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From Sex to Bed Bugs: 7 Things to Know About Vacation Rental Design

Andrea Lillo /// May 17, 2023 /// Designers Today

Where your guests will be having sex may not be something someone thinks about when designing a vacation rental property (hint: everywhere), but planning for that and other issues will help make the process as smooth as possible.

At last month’s Vacation Rental Design Summit in High Point, N.C., organized by High Point by Design and High Point Market Authority, experts discussed how they address the challenges of the business in the panel, “Pushing Through the Pain Points,” moderated by Marie Cloud of Indigo Pruitt. Panelists were Jessica Duce of JDuce Design, Tyann Marcink Hammond of Branson Family Retreats and Touch Stay, Julia Harmon of Compass, Joseph Szymczak of Slate Interior Design, and Tatianna Taylor-Tait of Tatianna Taylor-Tait Ltd.

Recognize that the guests will have sex everywhere

Duce recalled the time neighbors near one rental property started complaining about how guests were having sex in the property’s hot tub, which was outside the primary bedroom in an open area. So they had to quickly add fences and landscaping because “it never occurred to them that people were going to come there, have sex in the hot tub – and they’re going to. They’re going to have sex wherever they can. They’re on vacation.”

That’s why it’s so important that the products for these spaces should be high-quality, including bed frames, said Taylor-Tait. “Will it stand the test of time?”

Focus on the high-traffic areas

When it comes to vacation rental properties, Taylor-Tait recommended buying high-end products for five areas: mattresses, bed frames, sofas, dining tables, and dining chairs. “You really want to invest in your main high-touch areas,” she said. “Those are the things that you’re going to spend the most money on because that has the most high-traffic use. You don’t want to be replacing these over and over again.”

Revere housekeeping

Duce spent a day with housekeeping early on and “it was hell … they work their butts off.” Hammond added that the cleaners are the most important part of the team for short-term rentals. “You got to keep them happy.”

The easier things are to clean, the quicker the cleaning staff can turn over a property. If something has tiny crevices, for example, then the cleaners have to spend time getting cheese, syrup, or whatever out of those groves, said Hammond.

“You’ve really got to think about who’s going to be using these properties, what is going to happen, because more than sex is going to happen. They’re going to drop food in everything, because they are going to eat in bed, too,” Hammond said.

Cleaners like nightstands mounted to the wall because then it’s easier to vacuum underneath, Duce added.

Hammond doesn’t use bunk beds in her properties because the cleaners hate making bunk beds, though Duce said her properties use a latching system that makes the cleaning process easier.

Make sure the space looks like the pictures

Communicating how the property should look when resetting a property for arriving guests is key. Hammond uses a standard property appearance guide “so the entire team knows exactly how the properties need to look after maintenance, after cleaning, after inspections, everything.” That includes even things such as how many towels and where the throw pillows should be and in what room, she added.

“Being organized is huge,” said Hammond. Her properties also require three sets of linens, not just two, as well as a specific number of cups and plates, and silverware.

The property should look the same as its pictures every time, said Szymczak, who created a turnover manual to address things like disinfecting and cleanliness. ”You want to keep those five-star ratings and I think one of the quickest way not to get a five-star rating if somebody finds something” wrong.

When setting up remote homes, Hammond uses a warehouse to store products. Taylor-Tait tries to get wholesalers to hold product as long as she can before she has it shipped to the property.

Duce uses storage units, making friends with the storage unit owner/manager – giving them compensation if needed – and then ships everything to the unit. The manager will take pictures of what’s been shipped and put it into her unit.

Another unmentionable

Bed bugs. “You cannot stop bed bugs,” said Hammond. “But you can have a plan in place.”

The team can be trained to look for bed bugs, and a professional can come in regularly to check, she added. And they’re not always in the bed: Once bed bugs were found underneath a couch in one of her properties. Twice a month, her properties use a bed bug defense chemical, which doesn’t prevent them but kills them more quickly.

One must-have to help is mattress covers, and Taylor-Tait urged designers to make sure they are specifically for keeping out bed bugs.

Materials matter

One of the greatest moments in furniture right now is indoor/outdoor fabrics, said Szymczak. “It makes our job a little bit easier and being able to specify off-white furniture, which always photographs well and people love it and we don’t have to worry about it too much.”

When it comes to fabrics, Duce loves and is a brand ambassador of Revolution Fabrics, while Taylor-Tait recommended Universal, Rove Concepts, and EQ3.

Hammond doesn’t use bunk beds in her properties, and not only because cleaners hate them: “We are here to make memories with families and well, those memories will not be a hospital trip.” If you are going to use bunk beds, there are strict standards, such as weight limits, which prevents everyone from using them, she added. She prefers trundle beds, day beds, and sleeper sofas.

And if your property is pet friendly

Hammond’s properties are dog friendly, and they have welcome baskets for the dogs, which include old towels, food and water bowls, and poop bags. The old towels by the door are for wiping paws when they come in from the outside, she said.

Extra time may also be needed to reset a property after a dog stays there, to make sure all of the pet hair is removed, added Harmon.

She also provides a dog crate at every house “because we don’t expect them to travel with the dog crate and we also expect them to use the dog crate when they leave the property without the dog. That way, the house is taken care of.”

Last year, Hammond’s company made $25,000 on dog fees alone. Her properties charge between $25-$35 per dog per night, except for people coming in for Purina dog shows, who are charged half price.

The most dogs she has had at a property at once was 13. “Twelve is our limit now.”


Link to article: Designers Today

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