What the Most Successful Airbnb and VRBO Hosts Know About Staging Their Home

published Mar 15, 2019
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(Image credit: Sylvie Li)

So you’ve decided to rent out your pad to earn some extra cash. Depending on where you live, you can stand to make a hefty profit by making your home available for rental through services like Airbnb and VRBO.

Before you dive in, though, it’s crucial that you come prepared. There’s more to being a successful host on these popular vacation rental sites than meets the eye, and if you want your property to stand out, presentation is key.

To ensure that your space is the one travelers will want to make their home away from home, we talked to some of the most successful hosts on these sites.

Here are their best staging tips that easily—and consistently—snag them reservations:

1. Keep it simple

You may think that showing a tidy and organized home in your listing’s photos goes without saying, but it’s especially important to remember that less is always more. If there is too much visible clutter or even too many personal items, it can distract a potential renter.

Stacie Fredrich’s Breckenridge, Colorado home (Image credit: Courtesy VRBO)

“These basics ensure guests can experience maximum comfort and relaxation in their home away from home,” explains Stacie Fredrich, a “Premier Partner” (VRBO’s preferred host designation), who hosts her super-clean, calm, and inviting pad in Breckenridge, Colorado, on the sharing platform.

Laura Butler-Madden’s London flat (Image credit: Courtesy Airbnb)

De-personalize just enough so guests don’t have to be reminded that they’re staying in someone else’s home: “Guests want to feel like it’s their own little haven while they are away from home,” Laura Butler-Madden, who rents out her stylish London apartment writes in an Airbnb Plus host spotlight post. “We didn’t include any personal photos, just lovely artwork and books, which helps to keep things neutral.”

2. Help guests visualize themselves in the home

Although simplicity is key, it’s also important your space does not look too sterile in photos. Your guests should be able to imagine themselves stylishly living in the home during their trip.

“Set up the space or item so guests can visualize using it in the space,” says Fredrich. “For example, set up a picnic on the private patio to showcase the outdoor space, or set up some board games on the table to showcase which games are available. Make some coffee and tea to showcase your French press and tea kettle.”

Holly Baker, VRBO Premier Partner and host of A&E’s “Vacation Rental Potential,” agrees that these little details go a long way toward helping guests envision their getaway in your home.

Holly Baker’s Edmonton, Canada home (Image credit: Courtesy VRBO)

“The photos should look like someone is living in and enjoying the home,” says Baker, who rents out her super cozy property in Edmonton, Canada. “That doesn’t mean have actual people in the house, but it does mean having things like lit candles and maybe a few snacks laid out creatively in the kitchen.”

(Image credit: Courtesy Airbnb)

One spot to focus on is the nightstand area. In a video with Bobby Berk from “Queer Eye,” Airbnb Plus host Melanie shared that she sets out a glass of water along with a book from a local author to make the bedside area in her Los Angeles loft seem like the perfect place to relax for the night.

3. Bring in the professionals

A more intense option that pays off? Hiring professionals.

VRBO Premier Partner Bill Duncan recommends hiring an interior designer. He worked with Red Element Design to overhaul his Charleston, South Carolina, property, and he’s thrilled with the results.

Bill Duncan’s Charleston house pre-renovation (Image credit: Courtesy VRBO)
Duncan’s home post-renovation (Image credit: Courtesy VRBO)

Duncan also recommends hiring a professional photographer to accurately capture all your designer’s hard work.

But even if you choose to take your own, it might be worth spending a little time strategically zhushing up the place. “Good, natural light is a must, and sometimes you need to rearrange your furniture to get all the important pieces in the shot,” advises Baker.

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