Renting Out Your Cottage – Tips For Success

We’re often asked by new cottage rental owners what they have to do to maximise occupancy, build a good repeat market and create good income.  So, we looked at our most successful rentals and – the ones that are solidly booked, not only in the high season, but through the shoulder season and into the less popular months.

We looked at the range of accommodation, amenities offered, the rates and reviews to come up with this list of features that appeal to guests so much, they come back again and again.

The location or type of waterfront didn’t seem to make as much of an impact on choice as the way the cottage was presented on a listing and how the reality of a stay matched the description and images.  

These are the eight elements that came up consistently and they are what we share with our newly registered owners to ensure their success.

Exceptional Cleanliness

You cannot cut corners on cleanliness in these times.  Whereas years ago, rental guests were tolerant of the occasional dust bunny, a few bugs in the window wells and maybe a tiny speck of dried mouse poop on the floor under the stove, these missed details are now cause for serious complaint and refund demand.

The most outstanding cottages have professional cleaners who come armed with a checklist, a multitude of cleaning materials and an attitude that guest satisfaction results from their attention to detail.

Unlimited Wifi

If you were a fly on the wall at your cottage when a family arrives, you can bet the first question you’d hear would be:

“What’s the wifi password?”

Now that remote working has become so commonplace, the provision of wifi is pretty much the biggest deal breaker when people are looking for a cottage. 

Comfortable beds with 2 pillows per person

Gone are the days when the old mattresses from home made their way to the cottage where they would enjoy their final 20-odd years of squeak and lumpiness. Given the increase in rental rates over the past ten or so years, guests quite rightly expect to experience a great nights sleep on a really comfortable mattress with at least two pillows per person, and great quality linens.

The look of a bed on a listing can be enough to make or break a rental decision so take time in planning every bedroom – not just the master.

Enough dining space (inside and outside) for the number accommodated

Sometimes guests will want to eat inside – sometimes out on the deck – but wherever they dine they will want to be together – not to have to eat in shifts.  The best cottages have sufficient dining space, meaning tables and chairs, for everyone to sit together for a meal.  Inside, this may include breakfast island seating but it is preferable to have an extended dining table to accommodate all.

Quality entertainment

Buy the biggest flat screen TV that will comfortably fit in a living room or family room. The most popular cottages have wall-mounted Smart TVs in every bedroom as well.  If you are able to provide the unlimited Wifi you’ll need for streaming to multiple TVs, your place will be in a lot of demand.

Non-motorised watercraft

While the occasional guest will have their own boat they would like to bring, most are happy with paddling a canoe, kayaks, stand up paddleboard or a pedalboat.  The more you can provide the happier your guests will be.  

Insurers are usually comfortable with non-motorized watercraft as long as they are regularly checked for leaks, are sea-worthy and you also provide a water safety kit for each boat.

Automatic generator

Even the most wonderful vacations can be marred by a power outage, and these are common in cottage country areas in summer.  When the power goes out so does the ability to flush the toilet (without hauling water from the lake), shower the kids, wash the dishes, and run a load of laundry- all those things that were planned at the time the power failed.

Happy thoughts of the great day on the water and anticipation of a movie night will be quickly replaced with concern over preparing a meal, having adequate lighting to see the kids into bed and worry about when the power will come back on.

An investment in an automatic generator is your key to even happier guests than you had before, as they realize their fridge is still humming and the wifi is still working, while the neighbours are in darkness.

Well-equipped kitchen

We often see that phrase in cottage descriptions but it rarely matches the perception of what a well-equipped kitchen should be.  But when you see a review that praises the owner for providing everything the guest needs for cooking, you know that owner has their guests needs in mind.  

At the very least the knives should be sharp; the toaster and coffee machine should be large enough to make toast and coffee for the whole group within a decent breakfast time span, and the freezer compartment of a decent size.

Then there’s small appliances. Check out our list of the Five Small Appliances that will Wow Your Guests.

Exceeding Expectations

Today’s guests have higher expectations than ever before.

They’ve stayed in high quality vacation rentals throughout the world and expect certain standards will be met. They write reviews after every stay and judge a property based on what they have experienced before.

Remember that the moment you decided to accept money from people in exchange for a stay at your place, you entered the travel, tourism and hospitality industry. This brings responsibilities, so giving attention to these eight ways you can impact a family’s year will go a long way to making a difference to them.

Rental Management Services

We’ve been successfully managing cottage rentals for 18 years and would love to help you as well!