3 Things Renters Look for in a Vacation Home, According to a VRBO Expert

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Ask anyone who’s recently tried to rent out their vacation home (aka the investment property you bought, which doesn’t get nearly as much use as it should): It’s not for the faint of heart. While lockdown might be a thing of the past, COVID has forever changed what renters are looking for in a home—and according to a recent Expedia report, that extends to vacation rentals as well. As many companies maintain a hybrid work-from-home model, “blended” or “flexcation” travel—which is a longer stay that mixes remote work and play—is on the rise, where 28 percent of travelers said they’re looking to take a flexcation trip in the next 12 months (per the report).

That said, people seem to be getting more specific with what they're looking for in a vacation rental. While a waterfront beach house is bound to bring in bookings, according to the report, sixty-five percent of travelers consider a rental’s amenities (both indoor and outdoor) as more important than the destination itself. So, we spoke to Tim Rosolio, vice president of Vacation Partner Success at Expedia Group and VRBO, to uncover the three amenities that are like fly paper to vacation renters right now. Read on for everything you need to know 

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Meet The Expert

Tim Rosolio: Vice President of Vacation Partner Success at Expedia Group and VRBO with 16+ years of experience in the vacation rental industry 

The Top 3 Things Renters Are Looking for in a Vacation Home

1. Hardcore Kitchen Appliances and Outdoor Cooking Upgrades

If there’s one thing people are prioritizing right now, it’s ‘foodie-menities.’ Rosolio tells us, “people get excited about doing an activity in a specific home. This is a situation where people have free time. They want to spend that time doing some baking. They want to spend that time making waffles in the morning rather than having a quick breakfast… I’ve seen property bookings skyrocket from including a KitchenAid mixer in photos.” As a result, rentals with cooking amenities—including fancy coffee machines, air fryers and pizza ovens—are in demand by a collective 92 percent, while 25 percent of renters expect a waffle maker in their property. 

Plus, there’s also a spotlight on outdoor cooking, where 50 percent of renters wanted outdoor kitchens or barbeques and 24 percent wanted access to gardens with fresh produce: “If you have a great grill, that’s an opportunity to [mention] ‘outdoor meals as a family’ in your listing’s description,” Rosolio adds. 

2. Business- and Family-Friendly Features

With the rise of flexcations are here to stay, people are looking for “business-friendly” accommodations now more than ever, according to the report. “These are things that you likely already have, and you just need to disclose on your listing,” Rosolio tells us. “The best example is Wi-Fi. You probably have Wi-Fi. But if you don’t disclose that you have Wi-Fi on your listing, you’re going to [miss out on an entire pool of potential renters].” Beyond that, however, the report also mentions VRBO partner, Heather Barbiere, who promotes her properties as “ideal work and play destinations with loads of work-friendly amenities.” 

In addition to featuring ‘free Wi-Fi’ in the headline, Barbiere also includes “quiet areas with desk spaces, play spaces for kids, discounts for longer stays and long-lead calendar availability” as amenities in her listing. “Those looking to attract flexcation family travelers should also ensure listings highlight that pets and children are welcome, and spotlight family-friendly accommodations and amenities, like private pools, spacious kitchen and dining areas, entertainment and games, nearby parks and recreation areas, and more,” Expedia experts also recommend in the report.

3. Games and Group Activities

“You always want to include a photo of a puzzle, a chess set or board games and card games if you have it at the rental property,” Rosolio says. “People need to be able to envision themselves there (which is the same reason why you should include photos of kitchen appliances). Think about when you’ll be renting the property and highlight thing to do in the season. For example, if it’s winter, put out some puzzles [on a cozy coffee table] and take a picture to include in your listing’s photos.” 

To that end, Anna Brown, Public Relations Manager for Expedia Group, also tells us: “Pickleball has been gaining popularity and deemed one of the fastest-growing sports…With that, VRBO has seen more vacation homes with pickleball court popping up, offered as an amenity for those who want to play while on vacation.” But of course, if you don’t have the budget (or space) for an entire court, you can always include a ping pong table or lawn games as an outdoor alternative.

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Sydney Meister is PureWow's Assistant Editor, covering everything from dating trends and relationship advice (here's looking at you, 'soonicorns') to interior design, beauty...