Throughout my career, I’ve received many questions about how to start a short-term rental business. Before you start investing into real estate, you need to answer some other questions which can help point you in the right direction.

One of the most important questions that I tend to get is: “J, How do I really get started?”

Oftentimes, questions are the answers. Here's what I mean…

I emphasize to all of my students that the most important question to ask is: “Who do I want to serve?” 

Well, once you've nailed down an answer to that one, there are two more follow-up questions which will give you a lot of direction when first starting your business. 

1. Whom do you want to serve in your short-term rental business?

So let's pretend you want want to serve families who are traveling with small children.

The first question you're going to ask yourself is: “what do families with small children expect?” 

That's it. What does that target customer that you believe you're best suited to serve, expect? 

Once you know what they expect, that begins to give you some direction on what it is that you would like to do. 

For example – if you're considering a location near a busy airport as opposed to one location near a park and some grocery stores, which of those two locations do you think is better for the family? 

Quite possibly the one near the park and the grocery stores, right?

What would a family traveling with small children possibly expect? Well, obviously, they expect a place to sleep – not only for the adults, but also for the kids. 

Naturally, this could affect some of your furniture choices. You may want to use bunk beds or twin beds. One of my favorite choices is often using ottomans that are also convertible to beds, because they serve a dual purpose when families without kids are also staying there. 

Something else a family traveling with small kids might expect – especially if your location has stairs – are the gates that go in front of the actual stairs. This way your customers know that their children can be safe since they can lock and unlock the gate. 

Some other things to consider are the kitchenware choices. Perhaps not all of your plates are the full size, but kids size as well. This is once again an added convenience for parents who are traveling with their kids. 

So after delivering on the promise of what they expect, then you want to think about what they would like.

2. What would make your short-term rental customer say, “Oh, wow, I'm glad that this is here!”

For example – one of the things that I like to choose is the location to be more family friendly.  

Find high walk scores where there are already a significant amount of kids, or maybe even a playground on site. 

If someone is coming to one of your locations and staying for a longer period of time, there will often be downtime during their stay. They will likely need a place to let the kids get all of that wonderful energy. They may not know where to go but they do know that they don’t want to travel too far from their home base.

So if your customers are on site, and there's a playground, mom or dad will say, “Wow, I'm glad that this is here! This is very convenient for our needs.” 

3. What do you need that will make your short-term rental customer say, “Wow, I can't believe they included this!”

What's that astonishing factor? 

Here's a simple suggestion – children often come with equipment. You’ve got the diaper bag, the bottles, the car seats, the high chairs, the playpens, and all of the other stuff that goes into making your child comfortable. We all know that if the kids are not comfortable, nobody is actually going to be happy or enjoy their trip in any way, shape, or form. 

Here's the challenge… What happens when you go through the airport with that equipment? 

They typically charge you more because it's oversized. Furthermore, you have to wait longer. Heaven forbid there should be a connecting flight and something gets separated from everything. 

If you happen to serve that demographic, and you know that that's something that they're dealing with, why not just make sure that those items are something that you can provide?

When you provide them – and let your potential customers know that you provide them – you suddenly have a distinct competitive advantage.

As such, price becomes less of a part of the discussion. 

Here's the point. When they see that those items are there, it becomes an “Oh my god, I can't believe they have this!” 

Imagine your listing is perceived and how it is being compared to someone else's. 

And because you thought ahead about all of this – 9 times out of 10, that potential customer will choose you. 

Are you ready to learn more about how to establish your competitive advantage in the STR market?

Access the FREE Short Term Rental Blueprint video course: https://cashflowdiary.com/blueprint 

Subscribe to the Cashflow Diary YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/cashflowdiary 

Listen to the Cashflow Diary podcast on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/cashflow-diary/id623140540 

Listen to the Cashflow Diary podcast on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3iJetWgP5D7lGQ03gsX6yt?si=XjUp-iA6QoObPESLAAWxOA 

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