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How to maximise the potential of your vacation rental property

test spoke to Datin Susean Loh Hani, owner of Ratu Rening Residency, a jungle retreat at the foothills of Genting Highlands, for some advice on what investors can do to get their vacation rental business off to a good start.

© Datin Susean @ Ratu Rening Residency

Running a vacation rental business is one of many options that a property investor can explore to generate rental income. When managed well, a vacation rental property can be rewarding. However, achieving this requires a specific set of skills. 

First, it is crucial to identify the difference between a vacation rental business and a traditional rental property investment. While conventional property investment can offer a more stable income, vacation rental businesses can provide higher returns and growth opportunities. 

The unique challenges of managing a vacation rental require investors to conduct thorough due diligence before buying a property for this type of business. You may need to learn about showcasing your property creatively to attract guests, becoming an accommodating host, and ensuring your property is well-maintained at all times. 

Let’s take a look at Datin Susean’s tips:

There are many types of vacation rentals including city and nature staycations. How to decide on the kind of vacation rental niche to fulfil? 

Your vacation rental property has to mirror your personality, passion, and preference. You will need to consider this thoughtfully as it will be a long-term venture. Always pick something timeless over current viral trends, allowing you to make minor changes accordingly should you need it. 

For example, if you love nature – by all means, go for the jungle living concept. If you consider yourself an islander or a beach-goer, consider a vacation rental property by the beach or with a seaside view. The urban dweller concept could be good for lovers of city living. These are just a few examples. Be creative and explore your options. 

How do you attract guests to your vacation rental especially when you are first starting out? 

© Datin Susean @ Ratu Rening Residency

Never underestimate the importance of hosting when it comes to attracting guests. You have to build a personal connection with your guests by being approachable and accessible to them. 

They might become your regular guests or even refer you to others if they find you genuine and helpful. Otherwise, your vacation rental destination will be like a hotel; you check in and check out – which lacks personal connection since no one knows who is running the place.  

That said, some guests may be private and would prefer not to be intruded on by the formalities of hospitality. So they may be polite but reserved. As a host, it is your responsibility to identify and prioritise this. 

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Do you have any tips on becoming an accommodating host? 

Your first meeting with your guests is crucial. In my experience, some guests can be relatively private. But on the other hand, some may be very open and love having conversations. So as a good host, tailor how you cater to your guests’ preferences and behaviours based on your observations. A simple welcome gesture like providing refreshments is enough to break the ice. 

Once your guests have settled in comfortably, now is your chance to start approaching them, like telling stories of the place or recommending activities they can explore. This strategy has helped me receive many repeat guests – some even book our home a year in advance! I believe our unique and personalised hospitality is the key to this success. 

What can you do to make your vacation rental more desirable and stand out from the rest?  

© Datin Susean @ Ratu Rening Residency

Highlight the best parts of what your vacation rental offers. They can be anything from facilities to amenities. For example, if there’s a river behind the property, you can curate a special spot; either for water activities, recreation, or barbeque. Have a jacuzzi or a private pool? Shout out about it on your website or Instagram page.

Additionally, the overall presentation of your property is very important as no two properties are the same. Just like paintings, every work of art is a unique masterpiece. The same goes for your vacation rental property.

Our central theme at Ratu Rening Residency is jungle living. One of the estates is built around a spring water reservoir connected to the natural sensation of the gracious jungle, complete with contemporary architectural design and modern amenities.  

Another estate is along a flowing river with clear water within a tropical floral garden. Our guests can enjoy riverside and garden picnics, fishing, barbequing, and intimate dining for special occasions. Our goal with these estates is to provide the best amenities and experiences while harmonising them with the needs of travellers who want a comfortable retreat in the jungle. 

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What is your main advice to those interested in running a vacation rental business? 

Aspiring hosts need to be ready to give their all, especially if they are going to be hands-on and doing it full-time. Before starting the business, you must gain proper knowledge of the daily operational commitment to ensure your vacation rental is ready for every guest.  

Perhaps you can try staying at several vacation rentals to observe and learn how the operations and management are being handled well and consistently. Then, interact with the owner to get a better glimpse into the business before you start your own.   

Doing as much research as possible is key to making the whole experience less intimidating for you. Once you have enough information and a solid understanding, you can gradually start planning and venturing into the business.   

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