7 Hudson Valley Tips for Being Vacation Rental-Worthy

Is your house vacation AirBnb-worthy? If it helps its occupants experience joy in an effortless, locally-authentic way, then the answer is yes.

Here’s why: 86% of Airbnb users say they pick the service (or similar sites like VRBO and Homeaway) because they want to feel like a local. They’re sick of long lines, tourist traps, and cookie-cutter hotels. They want to check out unique local neighborhoods, sleep in a comfy bed, cook in a well-stocked kitchen, and get away from the chores and sameness of everyday life. And they want it all to be ready for them to enjoy when they show up.

That sounds amazing, right? It’s why Airbnb has skyrocketed to being the third-most valuable private company in the world after just eight years in business. The Mid-Hudson Valley is no exception; in 2015, nearly 100,000 people used the site to book a stay in the area.

If you’re renting your home out as a vacation rental, living in it full-time, or visiting on the weekends, our monthly Hudson Valley property management and concierge service ensures an Airbnb-worthy experience for you and your guests. Here are some things that we keep in mind:

1. Curate Comfiness

Airbnb’s founders started the company by offering a room that had three air mattresses in a guest room. It’s come a long way since then, and a minimum requirement is making sure you’re stocked with the basic amenities.

To stand out, some of the differentiators can be having a really comfortable mattress, high-quality sheets, lots of pillows, locally-made soaps, oils and scrubs, and a nice selection of teas. For some of our clients, we even stock seasonal floral arrangements from Hops Petunia and wine selections from Kingston Wine Co., who both combine worldly palettes with upstate sensibilities and a strong sense of curation.

“there is nothing better than mint in a floral bouquet in the summer, it just smells like happiness”

Kelli Galloway, the designer behind Hops Petunia, says that the best Airbnb floral arrangements “...take into consideration the style or aesthetic of the home...I try to use fragrant flowers or herbs of the season. Like there is nothing better than mint in a floral bouquet in the summer, it just smells like happiness. I think having a soft scent of the season in your room/rental when you walk in is just such a luxury, even in its simplicity.”

Kingston Wine Co.’s Michael & Theresa Drapkin believe that good wine is a necessity of life and travel. When selecting the perfect “Airbnb wine,” they “....take into account the season, the context of the visit, the meals that will be served or prepared, and the taste preferences of the guest(s). Our offerings focus on the traditional, time-honored wines that you would find at an iconic Parisian restaurant or the rustic country wines of an Italian Agricultura.”

P.S., Kingston Wine Co. now offers free Saturday delivery for orders over $100 or 12 bottles of wine.

For maximum impact (and better reviews) with rentals, it’s recommended that you underpromise and overdeliver. Perhaps your guests are aware that curated wine selections will be waiting for them, but they'll be delighted by also having a beautiful floral arrangement in their bedroom.

Hops Petunia flowers in Kingston Wine Co.'s downtown Kingston space.

Hops Petunia flowers in Kingston Wine Co.'s downtown Kingston space.

2. Have a single point of contact

A critical element of Airbnb is that it removes the friction from everyday hassles for the end user. If you’re a property owner, there can be a whole lot of friction when you’re waiting six hours for the cable company to show up, or frantically Googling for a plow truck that is available after one of those freak Hudson Valley snowstorms.

To best remove this friction, maintain a single point of contact; our property management service has established partner relationships to handle both everyday problems and emergencies. You or your guests only have to call one phone number, and a trusted person will be tasked with waiting for the cable company or arranging for a snowplow.

3. Leave some DIY time

In today’s automated, technology-driven world, doing something yourself is underrated. Sure, it might be tempting to turn on your fireplace with the flick of a switch, or to never have to chop vegetables again, or have a perfect garden that you never touch. But you’re also denying yourself the satisfaction of doing something yourself.

Your guests also may want some low-tech upstate escapism, as long as it’s not dangerous and they have the tools they need.

A property management service is going to handle the heavy lifting of landscaping, laundry and cleaning, but they can leave behind some satisfying and low-risk opportunities that can be enjoyed. Enjoy the zen of picking fruits and vegetables from a garden, or raking leaves (and jumping into the piles).

4. Don't stress the logistics

Coordinating logistics as a homeowner can turn a relaxing weekend into a white-knuckle race against time.

For one, it’s stressful for visitors to commit to a time to meet and be let in. If they’re traveling from far away, it means that they’ll have to check in every half hour when there’s a detour, traffic on the Tappan Zee, or a slight change in plans. This is where a lockbox or lockitron comes in handy; people can arrive at their own pace, get inside, open up the wine that’s already waiting for them and start relaxing.

Another aspect is preparation; heads can spin when guests and homeowners realize that the thing they wanted to do (barbecuing, starting a fire, riding their bike) is going to require a trip to a store that might not be open or is far away. For the greatest enjoyment, it’s best to stock the necessary cooking supplies, charcoal, firewood, s’more ingredients and whatever else BEFORE you need them. A property management company can accommodate special requests ahead of time, but it can also anticipate needs based on common requests, the weather and specific events or holidays that coincide with the date.

5. Have someone notice red flags

When you’re renting to people from the Internet, guest vetting becomes essential. If there are indications that there’s going to be a wild party, or that your guests are going to go over the occupancy limit, you need to set expectations or just say no. If you’re uncomfortable with that, a property management service provides someone to do it for you.

Red flags also come in the form of looming issues or micro-decisions that might affect the value or enjoyment of your home. Some examples include heating inefficiencies, leaks and drafts, water pressure and water quality issues; our property management service can serve as a de facto home consultant that can identify and address issues more efficiently than individual contractors can.

6. Source some one-of-a-kind furniture

If your home is going to provide an authentic, local experience, then you should think about sourcing some authentic, local design and furniture.

We’ve previously written about our friends at Hundred Mile and Sawkille, but another partner who we’re fortunate to collaborate with often is Samuel Moyer Furniture, located in Hudson, NY. They transform reclaimed, ethically sourced materials into one-of-a-kind, generation-spanning pieces as part of the “slow furniture” movement. Their physical space in Hudson is called the Culture+Commerce Project. (Photo credit)

Even if you just have one piece that has a unique local story, you’re curating a narrative for yourself and your guests and adding value to your home experience.

7. Make great suggestions

One of the benefits and downsides of the Hudson Valley is that there are so many options of things to do. It can feel overwhelming for new visitors.

For cities, Airbnb addresses this with its Neighborhood Guides, which contain the inside scoop on what locals actually like doing; in San Francisco, they guide visitors away from the Fisherman’s Wharf tourist trap and advise them to spend an afternoon in Dolores Park instead.

For our rentals and property management clients, we like to provide just a few curated, essential suggestions of places to go in a guidebook. Rather than listing every restaurant in town, we’ll only say what makes our favorite places special.

Here’s one of our guide books that was designed by local designer Carla Rozman:

Find out more about our Property Management Service in places like Woodstock, Hudson, Rhinebeck and Kingston, NY:

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Produced by Kingston Creative. Illustrations by Gabrielle Green.