A Step by Step Guide to Setting Up Your Short-Term Rental

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1. Change the locks

Just like buying your home the first step is to change the locks… I recommend using a touch pad lock with Wi-Fi connectivity.  This will allow you to give your tenants a code to access your property.  Guests appreciate easy direct access to a property.  Asking guests to go to a check-in office or find a lock box with a key can be both time consuming and problem prone.  The most common problem to arise is the previous guest lost the key…. 

To avoid this and improve guest satisfaction, install a REMOTE LOCK Open Edge 710 or equivalent (see post). Remote locks are great because you can maintain key access for yourself or maintenance emergencies, while providing code access for guests. 



2. Stock the kitchen

Guests are staying at your AIRBNB because it is NOT a hotel.  Stock your kitchen like it is your home.  Supply pots, pans, silverware and dining sets to exceed your standard number of listed guests.  It is a nice to include kid sets as well (depending on your market).  Have plenty of glasses.  If you have a pool or spa, include outdoor acrylic glassware.  Make sure to have a standard coffee maker.  Do not waste your time and effort on a Keurig.  A Keurig is great but stocking the K-cups can be a hassle. Include a toaster, toaster oven, blender and consider a waffle maker (depending on location).

Make sure to supply salt, pepper and spices.  Include a toaster, toaster oven, and blender.  Don’t forget cutting boards, storage containers, pitchers and a Brita/water purifier of your choice.   (Try to avoid refrigerator water and ice dispensers due to maintenance).   

There are many places to find good deals for kitchen supplies.  We found that Bed, Bath and Beyond is a great store for stocking up on supplies.  Make sure to collect as many of the Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons as you can before shopping. 

3. Beds are key and market dependent

If you are in a snow resort, kid friendly market, then the more beds the better.  If you can put two bunk beds in one room and the parents can have the other room then you have a winning set up.  

However, if your market is more upscale like Palm Springs, then you’ll want queen or king size beds in a nicely made up room.  How you arrange your beds is very market dependent. 

However, there is one universal truth…. protect your mattresses.   You want to protect them from kids and overly intoxicated adults… read between the lines….  

We recommend sealing your mattress with Sleep Tite Encase (available on Amazon).  Sleep Tite Encase is advertised as “complete protection against bed bugs, liquids, allergens and dust mites.”

You can also place a Sleep Tite Waterproof Mattress Protector over the Sleep Tite Encase.  The waterproof mattress protector does not protect against bed bugs… We combined both to extend the lifetime of our mattress and decrease the risk of any bed bugs in our property.  There is some up-front cost to this strategy but it is worth it.

Sleep Tite is not the only brand out there so look around for what works best for your Short Term Rental…

Lastly, we bought waterproof/bed bug proof encasement covers for the pillows.  These can also be found on Amazon. 

4. Sheets

Go white, soft, and in budget.  These sheets need to feel nice while being durable.  We found Amazon to be an easy way to buy sheets.   Check the sheets regularly and change out as needed.  We recommend having at least three sets of sheets per bed. 

Also, during the Covid era we recommend using duvet covers (3 per bed) that can be changed out and cleaned with the sheets between each stay.  The color for duvet covers can vary depending on your market. 

5. Towels

Go white, soft and in budget.  Amazon was king for this too.  Keep it simple.  Buy a couple and see if you like them and then go big.  If you have extra towels, no problem, you can store. 

Make sure to check your towels regularly and replace them as they wear out.  If you have a pool or spa, supply additional towels.  We have “pool/spa” towels that are white with colored stripes to make it easy to distinguish.

6. Supply Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi may not be available in the most remote locations but in a standard Short-Term Rental you need to supply Wi-Fi.  Like it or not, people are dependent on their devices.  If you can have some basic cable that is nice too, but Wi-Fi is most important.  It will also be helpful to if you install a Remote Lock.

7. TVs et al

There are entire blogs, magazines etc devoted to TVs and entertainment systems…  With that said, we like having smart TVs and or smart Blu Ray players that guests can use to connect to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu etc.  LG Smart TVs are reasonably priced. 

Make sure to provide good instructions on how to use the TV.  We take pictures of our remotes and draw arrows to the buttons with descriptions regarding use.  We laminate these instructions and include the Wi-Fi code on the page.  Having detailed instructions helps prevent calls about TVs.

We also place a laminated warning sign at each TV set up.  We used to have major problems with the entertainment systems being disrupted by guests and were receiving calls regarding TV problems.  This completely resolved after adding the below warning.

8. Games

Our Market is kid friendly.  We believe in supplying both board games and an entertainment system.  The classic games are Monopoly, Catan, Life, Chess, Backgammon, cards, Trivial Pursuit, Apples to Apples, etc…

The Wii is still the best family friendly game console out there.  It allows for four players and many of the games require motion.  When a family is on vacation and they can get Grandma dancing to “Just Dance 4” or racing in Mario Kart then you know they are having fun and will leave a nice review. 

You can find the Wii, games and accessories at Game Stop or Amazon. Be prepared to replace board games as pieces will get lost. Also, controllers will get broken but is part of the wear and tear…

9. Baby Gear and Miscellaneous

Supplying baby equipment can be plus or minus.  We provide a baby gate for stairs, a booster seat and a pack and play (no sheets).   Most people will bring their own supplies but most will not travel with a baby gate so that is a nice touch if you have a place with stairs.  We supply 4 kids table settings and cups.

If your unit is in a condo complex consider including a collapsible wagon.  If you are on the second floor your guests will thank you for making their loading and unloading process so much easier.

Provide bed side clocks with alarms.  Also, make sure to have plenty of extension cords with USB hook ups.  Place one on each side of the bed and in each common area for allow for charging.

If you have a STR with electrical wall heaters check out MYSA thermostats. They are wifi connected and you can have up to 10 properties on one account. MYSA thermostats are great and allow you turn on the heat at your place before you arrive. You can also turn down the heat after guests check out.

10. Music

Include a Bluetooth speaker and clear instructions on how to connect to the device.  People are on vacation.  For many that includes relaxing and listening to music.  We have had good success with the Marley Get Together but there are countless options…

You are well on your way to setting up a successful Short-Term Rental.  Make the process as smooth as possible by creating an Amazon Wish List labeled “Short Term Rental”.  When you find products you like, especially recurring maintenance items, like sheets, towels and bedding, add them to your “Short Term Rental List”.   This will make the process of replacing sheets, towels, and bedding so much easier.  Good luck and enjoy the process.

5 thoughts on “A Step by Step Guide to Setting Up Your Short-Term Rental”

  1. What a great list of products, thanks for assembling it! Makes me want to go purchase a STR right away so I can outfit it with all this stuff.

    Great recommendation about bed-bug proof mattress and pillow covers.

    1. Thank you. We wanted to put a list together to assist the first time buyer. We believe if you invest up front in some preventive measures that you will save money in the long run on big expenses like mattresses. It is just one of those things that you might not think about when buying your first STR… my first thought was what TV to buy and how big…

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