9 Tips for success in an ever-changing Palm Springs Short Term Rental Market

The short term rental market in Palm Springs and globally has been steadily growing over the past 10 years, and was supercharged in the past two years through Covid.  With a growing supply of short term rental properties on the market, homeowners need to continually think about ways to increase the view count of their property to stand out above the competition. 

Whether you decide to partner with Open Air Homes or not, here are 9 tips to think about for success with your Palm Springs vacation rental: 

1. Design dictates the type of renters you will attract.  Design your home to cater to families and work-from-anywhere guests, not party groups. 

Party groups are an inevitable part of the hospitality industry, but through the right type of home design, you can appeal to the type of guests who, on average, treat your home with more care.  Catering to families and work-from-anywhere guests should be at the top of your mind. 

Put yourself in the shoes of a parent planning their family’s vacation.  They imagine a vacation where their kids will sit around and play board games, grab tennis rackets or a basketball to have a healthy competition, and play for hours in the pool.  They also are looking for TVs in the rooms so their kids can escape.   They are in charge of planning an unforgettable experience for the family, and if you can find ways to appeal to this type of traveler, you will have success.  

Digital nomads are a growing population of people who can work from anywhere.  They want fast and reliable wifi, desk or dining table space to work, and comfortable furnishings throughout.  

We often partner with design firm Interior Particulier, known not only for their residential work, but also for designing some of the most sought-after homes in Southern California. 

2. Make the search engine algorithms your best friend.  A higher view count will lead to more bookings. 

The Short term rental industry is getting more competitive than ever.  If your home is consistently on page 3 or more of the search results, your chances of high occupancy will go down. 

The algorithms of Airbnb, VRBO, and others take into consideration a number of factors: Number of photos (at least 30), response time to inquiries, wishlist saves, dwell time on your listing (the time a guest spends looking at your listing), and a variety of other measurements (reach out if you want to discuss further). 

Make the algorithm your best friend by keeping your calendar accurate, accepting vetted guests who inquire in a time efficient manner, and not canceling bookings.  No time for new friends?  No problem, that’s why you have us at Open Air Homes.

3. If you are taking rentals for 31+ day stays, confirm your host or property manager is a licensed real estate brokerage and has all guests staying over 31 days sign a C.A.R. form for everyone’s protection.

We feel that it’s important to note that all 31+ day rentals legally are required to be handled by a real estate brokerage with a DRE number.  If your host or property manager is taking 31+ day rentals without a brokerage license, the guest has not signed the proper C.A.R. forms to protect you as an owner. 

When a guest stays for over 31 days in the State of California, they switch from being a guest to a tenant, and have tenant rights.  In the rare case where you’d have to evict a tenant, you want to make certain that you have a signed C.A.R. form. 

Most property managers who list homes for 31+ day stays on sites like Airbnb in Palm Springs do not have a brokerage license, and you are putting yourself at risk by taking these rentals without proper legal documents. 

Our DRE number (DRE #02164159) is on our website, all 31+ day guests sign a C.A.R. form and we follow the letter of the law.  This extra step protects our homeowner partners and their assets. 

4. Think about Desirability above all else.  

Would you believe us if we said the most viewed home on our platform has a chicken coop in the backyard? Well, it is. They deliver fresh eggs every morning to our guests.  Potential guests continually add this home to their “wishlist” to book and share the home with others, increasing the placement it receives on sites like Airbnb and VRBO. 

How can you make your home stand out above other homes in a crowded space?  Think outside the box to find unique ways to increase desirability from the type of renters you want to attract. 

The number of homes for rent is at an all-time high (in Palm Springs and the Joshua Tree area in particular), and guests now know that they can book last minute and still find a high amount of quality inventory available.  Having a desirable home will increase the lead-time that bookings come in, and also have your home standing out last minute when it’s available. 

5. Install a noise monitoring device. No, we do not mean wire-tapping.   

You might be wondering how you can monitor noise levels or prevent parties  from guests while you’re away from your home? While wire-tapping is illegal, there are noise monitoring devices (we recommend Minut) that alert us if a group is breaking the rules, and we can step in before your neighbor notices. 

With a Minut device, you can get real time detection of noise above the threshold you set and other important functions it has to ensure your guests are not a bother to your neighbors.  

For unincorporated areas in San Bernardino County (like Joshua Tree), they just passed an amendment to provide a $150 permit fee credit for new STR owners who install noise monitoring devices.

In Palm Springs especially, the city has strict rules about noise, with a three strikes you’re out policy.  Make sure to alert all guests to the seriousness of the city of Palm Springs, both to protect our community and to ensure you can continue renting your home when you’re not in residence. 

6. Make your primary bedroom a sanctuary!

More often than not, the person paying for the vacation will be sleeping in the primary bedroom.  Make this your focus by designing a comfortable space for the person footing the bill.  We recommend making all bedrooms a sanctuary, but if you had to choose one to stand-out, make it the primary. 

We cannot reiterate enough how important having a comfortable bedroom is. Getting a good night sleep will ensure having well rested guests, well rested guests are typically happier.  We have put together a blog on the Best Bedding Pieces for your Short Term Rental Property with pieces that have been working for us over the years and keep guests coming back! Our ratings speak for itself.

7. Make your neighbors your allies. 

When we sign a new home in Palm Springs, we introduce ourselves to all the neighbors and give them our texting line to reach out if there are any issues with the guests at the home.  We are in direct communication with a number of neighbors in Palm Springs and other desert areas, and we treat them as partners for success.  

We find this to be a better solution rather than the neighbors escalating issues with local authorities and putting your short term rental under risk of losing its license.  Hosts and Property Managers ought to come out of the shadows and introduce themselves, so they can continue to find ways to mitigate noise and parties, and find the right balance between long term community members and shorter term guests. Like we do.

8. Make sure your host or property manager has a direct-booking channel for repeat guests, and ask if they are investing marketing dollars to prioritize direct bookings. 

Our homeowner partners make the most money when guests book directly through Open Air Homes.  Guests also pay the lowest rate anywhere, similar to the way most boutique hotels work.  

Ask your Host or Property Manager if they are investing in Google, Instagram, or TikTok ads to increase direct bookings.  

Open Air Homes aims to have 50% of our bookings be direct in 5 years.  We have been building a client base of travelers for the past 9 years and have invested in our direct booking experience to ensure we can stay ahead of the competition. 

9. Use the remainder of the summer to fine tune your home for the fall. 

The summer months are the perfect time to consider making changes to your rental property.  Lose the design elements that cater to party groups, repaint your home, and reshoot the finished product.

If your home has below a 4.3 star average and a lot of reviews, digging out of that hole to stand out online will be a challenge.  Read the reviews, see how you can improve your home, and re-launch your listing in the fall from scratch having learned all of the lessons that lead to low reviews in the first place.

The agency to agency transfer process takes 45 days, and if you are looking to enhance your home and start fresh, now is the time to make a change.  

As a design-driven company, Open Air Homes can help set your home apart and cater to the right clientele.  We use the 45 day agency to agency transfer period to reimagine your home so that your home can go to market with an incredible product.  

We hope you enjoyed these tips! If this blog was the sign you were looking for to make changes to your rental property, do not hesitate to reach out to us.

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