starting a cabin rental business

Starting a Cabin Rental Business: Everything You Need to Know 

The vacation rental industry is growing rapidly on the whole, as many travelers are searching for that home-away-from-home to spend their vacation. In fact, revenue in vacation rentals amounted to $49.541 billion in 2020.

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Cabins are one of the many types of vacation rentals homes guests can choose from. Nowadays, travelers like the opportunity to get away from the city for a quiet and peaceful getaway. They want to experience something out of the ordinary and that cozy ambiance that cabins are so often associated with.

Cabins are a perfect opportunity for guests to escape the city, and it’s also a unique business opportunity for you!

How to Start a Cabin Rental Business

When starting in any business, there’s a lot of research and preparation involved, and part of that includes having a cabin rental business plan. It’s best to have a clear plan in place before, calculate all the costs, investment, and marketing strategies before getting your cabin up and running.

If you’re considering starting a cabin rental business, here are ten key factors to examine:

1. The Location

First of all, you need to figure out where exactly do you want to invest. Typical cabin locations include the mountains, the woods, by a lake or in a residential area. It’s also important to evaluate how you’d like to invest in the cabin:

  • Is it an empty plot of land that you intend to build on?
  • Is it an old cabin that needs renovating?
  • Is it the cabin ready to live in?

Is there a high demand to rent in your chosen area? For example, would it be located near a popular ski resort? Or near a spa or yoga retreat? Or is it simply in a secluded area where guests can experience that ultimate escape?

Starting a cabin rental business

The best way to start would be to search for vacation rentals advertised in the area you wish you purchase. You can have a look at listing sites such as Airbnb or Then have a look at what kind of properties are on offer, and whether cabins are an option and if they are in demand.

You can also use AirDNA, which is an analytical platform that gives insight into vacation rental data according to the location.

By all means, you can invest in a cabin that is in a secluded area or miles from the next town. That’s the whole point of a quiet escape! You’ll just need to have an online marketing plan and different strategies in place, such as using social media to promote your cabin and give it the exposure needed for bookings.

2. Types of Cabins

Cabins come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There are many different types, such as tiny houses, treehouses, cottages, log cabins, farmhouses, ranches, lodges, ski chalets, etc. Consider the style of the cabin too. Will it be made from wood or stones? Will the cabin be rustic or modern? Will the interior design and style be consistent with the exterior?

cabin rental business

Decide which cabin would be most suitable for you as a rental owner and what kind you would like to run and manage.

3. Calculate the Investment

Before you start with your cabin rental business plan and buying the actual property,  you need to calculate all the costs. Think about how you are going to finance your new business:

  • Will you need to take out a loan or mortgage?
  • If so, what level of monthly loan payments can you manage?
  • How much will renovating the cabin cost?
  • How much will all the furniture and amenities cost?
  • Additional expenses such as cleaning, repairs and maintenance
  • Marketing expenses, OTA fees

Don’t forget 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, for example, any floods or emergency repairs.

4. Licenses and Taxes

As a cabin rental owner or manager, you will need to secure a license before you can operate. Any business requires a general business license, and that includes cabin rentals. You may also have to provide proof that the property you are renting is not 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 need to pay rental tax. At times there can be a number of deductible expenses that cabins owners can take into consideration when filling out a tax return.

Check your location’s laws and requirements and if you can, speak to an attorney to make sure you have all the correct documentation to start your business. 

5. Cabin Rental Business Plan

A cabin 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.

cabin rental business plan

Creating a viable business plan will help you identify risks before you even invest, which will, in turn, help you determine the chances your business has at success. Not only will the business plan 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 make sure you going in the right direction

It is advisable to have a business plan before you buy the cabin, so you can truly judge if it is a worthwhile investment and business venture.

6. Marketing to Your Guests

Once you’ve decided on a location, you need to know how to market the cabin and who your target audience would be.

Decide if your cabin is intended to be a romantic getaway for couples, a cabin suitable for families or a fitness retreat for fitness and wellness travelers. Of course, you can also market the cabin as generic and not specify who it’s exactly for.

target your cabin rental guests

Are you planning to market to an international audience? If so, it’s a good idea to have a multilingual cabin rental website, so that it will be accessible and understandable for non-native English speakers. Another important factor is to decide whether your cabin is pet-friendly.

Indeed, you’ll need to advertise the cabin on the market to get bookings. Think of the different ways you can promote it. Do you plan to have your own website for your cabin or go through online travel agencies?

Is it a seasonal or year-round cabin? Decide whether you want a cabin just for winter and Christmas, or whether you want it open for the off-season too.

7. What Kind of Amenities Will You Offer?

Now we’ve covered pretty much everything, there’s just one thing left: the inside of the cabin. The interior is also the selling point and true experience. After all, it’s where guests will be spending their whole time! So what kind of amenities would you like to include in your vacation rental cabin?

There are a few things that allow guests to unwind and relax, like a hot bath. If you have space for a hot tub, nothing beats the feeling of warming up after being skiing or hiking outside in the cold all day.

cabin rental business plan

As cabins are associated with keeping warm inside and cozy, it’s a great idea to include a fireplace. You can even include wood and an ax for guests to cut wood themselves and place it into the fire.

Adapt your rental around the activities available. For example, if it is snowy or situated by a ski resort, provide sleds. It’s something that the whole family will love, especially the kids! If your cabin is by a lake, what about a rowing boat your guests can take out for the day.

Think of a cozy rural cabin and offer your guests something that goes with it – such as hot chocolate or the ingredients to make mulled wine. Provide blankets for guests to warm up in the living area, and books for that quiet getaway. You can even provide a fondue set and long forks to melt marshmallows by the fire.

Make sure to include all the amenities in your listing description and when marketing your cabin, so guests are fully aware of everything you have to offer.

8. Cabin Name

There’s one thing that often gets left until last, even though it’s one of the most fun parts of starting a vacation rental business! That is, choosing a cabin rental brand name. Your cabin could have a unique name, something associated with the area or something creative, it’s all up to you.

Your brand is the basis for your marketing and will help your cabin make a name for itself. Once you’ve chosen a name for your cabin, you’ll be able to use that name across your social media, website and all your OTAs.

9. Showcase Your Photos

Once you’ve got your cabin sorted, it’s time to sell the experience through photos. Be sure to have high-quality photos and include as many photos as possible. You’ll want to showcase all the rooms, amenities, outdoor area, and of course, a picture of the cabin itself.

how to start a cabin rental business

Consider writing captions under each photo, for example, “relax by the warm fireplace,” “perfect weekend getaway with the family” or “plenty of activities nearby.” 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 4 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 cabin covered in snow, they’re unsure of how it looks during the warmer months.

10. Website & Channels

Having an optimized and professional cabin rental website is a great way to showcase your cabin. You can all take matters into your own hands and have control over everything: booking system, accept online payments and managing all guest inquiries and reservations form one place. With Lodgify, homeowners can easily create their own website without the hassle of programming and have a wide selection of website templates to choose from.

vacation rental software

Lodgify also provide a channel manager, which syncs all your external vacation rental listings, such as, 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. You’ll only have to manage one calendar and never worry about double bookings. A channel manager very beneficial, especially when you are starting a cabin rental business and are listing your cabin across many listing sites.

What to Take Away

These are all important factors to consider before starting a cabin rental business. Whilst it’s a fun experience and can be 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. The vacation rental industry is unlike any other aspect of the hospitality industry because it’s personal, customizable, and flexible.

If you want even more detailed information on what to include in your cabin rental business plan, we’ve prepared a handy guide that includes all of the questions you need to ask yourself before starting your new venture.

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What do you think about this article?

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Show Comments (9)
  1. Good article. Just one thing: leaving an ax for your guests to chop their own wood? Unless the guests are being monitored, I would never leave a weapon without supervision. People are careless and sometimes parents don’t monitor their children. Anyways, just wanted to point that out. Thank you.

  2. I definitely agree that cabin owners should upload high-quality photos of their place. My friend is looking for a cabin where she can stay around Onalaska, WI, and the aesthetics of the property is the first thing she looks at. I hope she’ll be able to find a rental cabin with a good and comfortable interior design.

  3. I never thought about choosing the rental you get based on the activities that you can do. I want to go skiing with my kids this winter. I’ll see what they think about getting a cabin that is close to ski resort.

  4. You made a good point that choosing a vacation cabin that’s near a ski slope is a good way to make sure that the main attractions of the area is easy to get to. My friend and I are planning to go somewhere cold this winter because it doesn’t snow much in our hometown. Getting gear from a ski rental would probably be a good idea as well to make sure that we are safe in any activity that we do.

  5. Off grid cabins?
    Bare bones shelters?
    Do you need to supply water or coolers?
    Is a grill and fire pit enough for cooking?
    Outhouse or compost potty suitable?

  6. Can cabin rental businesses deduct or write off major expenses like replacing a well pump?

    Imagine 3 cabin neighbors maintain the same well. The rental unit is listed as a LLC while the 2 private residences aren’t.

    Are all operating expenses, depreciation, and repairs deductible for the LLC – but not the immediate neighbors?

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