The beauty of the vacation rental industry is that no one size fits all. As the popularity of alternative accommodation continues to rise, we are beginning to understand what travelers are really looking for. While sights and attractions are still the main focus of travel, many people are now booking holidays just for their unique accommodation. That said, over the past few months with the pandemic, the desire to explore outside of cities has continued to grow significantly.
So if you’ve decided to go into the farmhouse vacation rental business, whether you’re starting from scratch or already own a farmhouse, then you’re on the right track! While this may be a niche market, similar to tiny homes and cabins, it’s one that can generate a lot of revenue if done well. A lot goes into renting your farmhouse; not only do you have to consider the financial aspect – which is most important – but the marketing and design also say a lot about what your business represents.
To help you get started, here are some factors you should take into account:
Analyze the Farmhouse Rental Market
First thing’s first. If you don’t already have a farmhouse, finding the perfect property or an already built farmhouse is going to set you up for success. When buying land, consider everything that might affect your business down the line.
While you might not want to start your farmhouse business in the middle of nowhere, out of convenience for you and your guests (unless that is the unique selling point you’re going for), you should analyze the market and find out if there are any other farmhouse vacation rentals in the area that you’re interested in. This research is always recommended, as it will help you to understand your competition and what they offer.
It’s important to analyze your competitors but it’s also crucial to understand who you’re targeting. Knowing what kind of demographic you are trying to attract and what steps you need to take to achieve this will lay the foundation for a profitable farmhouse rental business.
Calculate your Investment
While this step is a lot of work and can seem tedious at times, it’s absolutely necessary. Ask yourself how you are going to finance your new business with the following points:
- Will you need to take out a loan or mortgage?
- If so, what level of monthly loan payments can you manage?
- How much will it cost to renovate the farmhouse?
- How much will all the furniture and amenities cost?
- Will there be farm animals on the property? What will the cost of their care be?
- Additional expenses such as cleaning, repairs, and maintenance
- Marketing expenses, OTA fees
Be sure to include taxes and license costs. It’s also a good idea to leave room financially for any problems that could occur or for things that you didn’t calculate before, like floods or emergency repairs.
Next, you need to plan your budget and how much you’re willing to invest in this new business. Your budget determines where your limits are. Planning a budget is good for a number of reasons:
- It keeps your finances on track. Financial planning is the key to a great investment.
- It keeps you out of debt. If you don’t have a budget, you will most likely overspend.
- Budgeting for the future helps you determine how much you need to invest, and how much money you can save over time.
As you’re just starting out, our advice is to start small but put in enough so that your business is beyond presentable.
Licenses and Taxes
As a farmhouse rental owner or manager, you’ll have to secure a license before you can operate. Any business requires a general business license, and this includes farmhouses. Also, you may be asked to provide proof that the property you are renting isn’t your primary residence. In order to get a license, have a look at your local government website.
Taxes are also an inevitable part of running any business. Just like you need a license, you’ll also have to pay rental tax. At times there can be a number of deductible expenses that owners can take into consideration when filling out a tax return.
Be sure to check the laws and requirements of your location and if you can, speak to an attorney to make sure you have all the correct documentation to start your business.
Create a Business Plan
A farmhouse vacation rental business plan is an overarching set of rules, goals, and frameworks that will help you make decisions for your new business and its future.
Your business plan is the foundation of your rental business. When creating a business plan, you need to put these four points into consideration:
- Be Realistic – You’re starting a small farmhouse business, don’t expect your income to be one million every week. Set realistic goals so you can work towards meeting them.
- Keep It Simple – A lot of small business owners overanalyze every move when they’re starting and it ends up overwhelming them. Avoid burning out by keeping your business plan simple. By doing so, you will be able to break it down into more manageable pieces.
- Be Specific – Ensure your business plan is straight to the point. Steer clear of redundancies and your future self will thank you.
- Complete – Create a thorough farmhouse business plan that you can rely on. While being concise is recommended, you should make sure that all the necessary points are properly elaborated.
Creating a viable business plan will help you identify risks before you even invest, which will, in turn, help you determine the chance your business has of success. Not only will it help you define the strategy you will run your business with, but it will also be a useful tool to refer back to time and time again to ensure you’re going in the right direction.
It is advisable to have a business plan before you buy the farmhouse, so you can truly judge if it is a worthwhile investment and business venture.
Decorate Your Farmhouse
The fact is, you’re using your farmhouse to sell your brand. You want your guests to be attracted to your farmhouse and for them to see the care that has gone into your interior design. Just because it’s a farmhouse doesn’t mean that you should ignore important details that can enhance guest experience and create a memorable vacation rental. You can only get high-quality guests if you have a quality farmhouse vacation rental.
If your farmhouse is old, you could decide to repaint to appeal better to the kind of tourists you want to attract. If you’re targeting senior or elderly tourists, light colors like cream or blue will work best. But if it’s younger tourists you want to attract, bold colors like orange or yellow are more likely to catch their eye.
Refurbishing is another great way to improve your farmhouse vacation rental. However, remember to not overdo anything – you’re just starting out and you’re on a budget. From DIY projects to thrift shopping for affordable antiques, there are many ways to create a special home without going overboard. Just do what you can and ensure everything blends well together.
Market Your Property
Once you’ve got your farmhouse sorted, it’s time to sell the experience through photos. Be sure to have high-quality photos and include as many as possible. You’ll want to showcase all the rooms, amenities, outdoor areas, and of course, a picture of the farmhouse itself. Include photos of the local area and nearby activities, such as hiking trails, lakes, ski slopes, and any other sporting or leisure activities.
It’s also a good idea to include photos across all four seasons. This way, depending on the time of year, guests will know exactly what to expect. For example, if it’s summer and your guests can only see photos of your farmhouse covered in snow, they might be wary of renting it.
When marketing your farmhouse, the best place to start is through social media. Take advantage of free platforms like Instagram and Facebook to market your vacation rental. Although you can achieve great results for free, these platforms also have very budget-friendly advertising plans so you can reach a large, diverse audience. You even specify the age and location you want to advertise to.
There are even ways to successfully market your farmhouse vacation rental through email so remember that the opportunities are endless!
Create Your Website
Having an optimized and professional farmhouse vacation rental website is a great way to showcase your farmhouse and increase bookings. This will allow you to take matters into your own hands and have control over your business while also offering potential guests a much better booking experience.
Having a vacation rental website will allow you to safely accept online payments, meaning guests won’t be re-directed to another site in order to book. It also allows you to manage all guest inquiries and reservations from one centralized platform, saving you time and energy.
With Lodgify, homeowners can easily create their own website without the hassle of programming. Because of this easy-to-use technology and a wide selection of website templates, you don’t need to be tech-savvy to create a stunning and successful website.
Sync With External Channels
Lodgify also provides a channel manager, which syncs all your external vacation rental listings from top online travel agents like Vrbo, Booking.com, Airbnb, and HomeAway. You won’t have to manually update your calendar, as the channel manager will refresh it automatically and will always keep it up-to-date and consistent.
By using this tool, you’ll only have to manage one calendar and never worry about double bookings. This is especially helpful for people who are just starting in the vacation rental industry because they’ll avoid any human error that might jeopardize their business.
What to Take Away
Starting a farmhouse vacation rental requires a lot of work but now that you know what it’s all about, you can start your own by following just a few, simple steps. While it’s a fun experience and can be very profitable, it’s also important to research, have a plan in place, and be prepared.
Being your own boss comes with a lot of responsibilities, but a lot of rewards as well. Take advantage of the fact that the vacation rental industry is unlike any other aspect of the hospitality industry because it’s personal, customizable, and flexible. Be patient and you’ll soon see your business thrive!