Around the world people are taking note of options that they have to earn extra income by converting unused space into a rentable guestroom. Perhaps you live in a city or locale that receives a lot of tourist traffic. Alternately, you may be located in a community where parents come to visit their children or residents host on a regular basis.
Regardless of the situation, opportunities exist that make it worthwhile to rent out your space. Companies such as Airbnb, HomeAway and Trip Advisor create a friendly environment in which you can market your guestroom at no cost.
If you’ve decided to take the plunge, you have multiple options. You can rent out an existing room for a smaller income or you can fix up a space so that it’s specifically designed to accommodate guests. If you decide on the former, you can simply advertise “room in a house” and be prepared to share your front door, your living room, your bathroom and your privacy.
If you wish to make a serious investment and look to your guestroom as a serious source of income, make sure that you design the guestroom in a way that offers the best possible level of hospitality to your guests.
The entrance is the first view that your guests will see so make sure that it’s inviting. Place plants around the door opening and make sure that there are no steps where people can fall. Good outdoor lighting is a must so that guests will feel comfortable returning to the room at night.
Place a Welcome mat outside the front door. You may need to move it back a little to keep the screen door from banging it but the mat is important so that people don’t track outdoor dust and mud into their living space.
The number and type of beds that you put in your guestroom will depend on the type of visitors that you want to attract. If you’re in Vegas aiming for a couple that’s planning to visit the casinos for some gambling and entertainment, a nice king-sized bed will be perfect. On the other hand, if your target population is families who will spend their evenings with the kids watching television while the parents play Vegas games online, you might want to include a double bed or two twin beds plus a sofa couch for the younger family members.
Make sure that there’s plenty of lighting near the beds and enough outlets for the guests to charge phones. Check that the Internet is strong enough so that you, plus all of your guests, will be able to go online at once. In today’s world, good connectivity is critical for travelers.
Even if there’s only one guestroom, you should plan to include a kitchenette. Kitchen facilities are one of the main reasons that travelers choose to stay at a guestroom rather than at a hotel. Many people enjoy the independence of being able to prepare light snacks and meals for themselves, rather than rely on the hotel dining room or other local eateries for all their dining needs.
At the bare minimum your kitchenette should include a sharp knife for cutting, plates, cups and silverware. You can provide disposables or real cutlery and dishes. There should be a fridge (small is fine), a microwave and an electric kettle where people can heat up water. It’s a nice touch to put in a coffee corner with coffee, tea and sugar.
Studies show, over and over again, that the bathroom is the most important part of hotel or guestroom accommodations. People want to feel comfortable as they use the facilities so you need to make sure that the bathroom is fairly roomy and has everything that’s necessary.
The shower should have good pressure and people should be able to easily get ahold of the soap and shampoo – you can put up a hanging shelf that is accessible within the shower. If the sink is small it’s possible that there won’t be room to put a soap dish on the sink. If that’s the case, you can hang a soap dish right above the sink.
Finally, keep a stand stocked with toilet paper next to the toilet and a small garbage can in the corner for tissues. There’s no real need for a medicine cabinet if you are expecting guests to stay for a maximum of a few nights but a mirror is a must.
You might be debating about giving your guests access to your outdoor area. After all, that’s where your privacy may be compromised. However, giving guests a nice place to sit with comfortable table and chairs can really add to your guesthouse’s appeal. If the yard/porch area is sunny, don’t forget to prop an umbrella over the garden furniture.
How to Market
Now that you’ve created the kind of guesthouse in which you yourself would be comfortable staying, how are you going to market it?
There are plenty of things that you can do on your own to market, both online and offline. Some promotional activities require that you pay a commission or lay out some money but there are plenty of things that you can do for free
- Don’t scrimp on photos. Get a professional photographer with a wide angle lens to come in and take good quality photos of your facilities.
- Set up a web page. Add in your photos, a description of your guestroom, and contact information.
- List your guestroom on booking sites such as Booking.com, Airbnb, HomeAway, Trip Advisor, Expedia and others.
- Set up a Google Business Page. Google features business pages in its search engine. So, for example, if you have a guesthouse in San Diego, it will show up on local businesses when someone searches for guesthouses in San Diego.
- Notify people on social media of your guesthouse. Post periodic updates, cute pictures, things going on in your area, etc to keep people returning to your social media page or profile. You want them to think about YOU when they are coming to your area or when they have a friend or relative coming to the area.
- Collect reviews. Google Business Pages, Trip Advisor and other sites give clients a chance to review their experiences. Studies show that people are swayed by these reviews and make their plans based on the reviews. After a guest leaves, ask them to leave a review.
Enjoy your guests!