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How To Make Money On Vacation Rental Property In Hawaii

How To Make Money On Vacation Rental Property In Hawaii

Whether you own a home in Hawaii or if you’re still in the process of acquiring the right property, you probably know that Hawaiian vacation rentals are hotter than ever. Our tips for maximizing profitability and minimizing vacancies help your vacation rental property work for you – even when you’re enjoying some well-earned beach time. Header photo by Adam Bouse.

Choose The Right Property

Approximately one of every 24 homes in Hawaii is a vacation rental. The high percentage rate of vacation rental homes and a shortage of affordable housing for residents led Hawaii’s government to take a tougher stance on short-term rentals (STRs). 

In Honolulu, for example, there are limited number of STRs allowed, and transient vacation rental units (unhosted rentals that don’t qualify as B&Bs) are only permitted in resort areas and certain apartment zoned districts, with exceptions for homes that carry nonconforming use certificates. Meanwhile Maui is home to more than 16,000 units that are eligible to operate as STRs without short-term rental permits.

Hanauma Bay, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Photo by Cosmin Serban

The moral of the story? Ensure that the property you’re considering can be used as a vacation rental before investing. If you’re already a property owner, check state and local ordinances to ensure that you are in compliance. Then, let the fun (and profits!) begin.

Decorate Beautifully 

Travelers want comfortable accommodations, but that’s not all: they prefer spaces with visual appeal. When furnishing your vacation rental property, keep it simple but stylish. Think upscale hotel with a few homey (but not too personal!) touches and you’ll be on the right track. 

Designers offer plenty of helpful tips for decorating a vacation rental:

  • Decorate for a wide range of tastes, not just for your own aesthetic. 
  • A few Hawaiian themed pieces are fantastic but too much island-themed décor can be overwhelming. 
  • Use colors and textures to add interest, but keep knick-knacks to a minimum. Guests appreciate uncluttered surfaces where they can place their belongings. 
  • Choose comfortable, high-quality furnishings that can withstand regular use. 
  • Opt for cool, hard-surfaced floors with area rugs rather than large swathes of carpeting. Not only do hard surfaces offer a contemporary aesthetic, cleaning is easier!

Remember, you’re not on your own when it comes to decorating your vacation rental. Invest in professional decorating services if you’re not sure where to begin!

House and car in Hawaii.
Photo by Paul Trienekens

Consider Creating A Kid-friendly Vacation Rental

Think about making a point of welcoming families. While singles and couples can easily make themselves comfortable in hotel rooms, those traveling with children gravitate toward vacation homes.

Fortunately, you’ll be at a distinct advantage if your rental is kid-friendly, as families are major consumers within the Hawaiian vacation rental market. Overall, a full 71% of families with kids prefer to rent vacation homes instead of hotels – partly because they’re able to cook their own meals.

Include Helpful Extras

Increase your rental’s appeal by stocking items that will help your guests feel at home. Extra linens (hotel-quality, of course!), plenty of towels, and different types of pillows – ergonomic and fluffy – to ensure that everyone sleeps comfortably are only the beginning. Anything that your guests can enjoy while lightening their luggage load will certainly be appreciated! 

If you’re going the kid-friendly route, take it a step further: Young families look for items they might need, i.e stroller, high chair, pack and play, a changing table, and a crib. Families with toddlers and school age kids appreciate items such as games, beach toys, children’s books, puzzles, and gaming consoles.

Travelers always appreciate well-stocked kitchens with plenty of pots and pans, small appliances, and dishes. Bonus tip: You’ll get even more great reviews if you include plenty of coffee! 

Think about helping your guests enjoy beach time even more by including items they’ll need. A cooler, ice packs (frozen and ready to go!), body boards, snorkel gear in different sizes, and the gift of a fresh bottle of reef-safe sunscreen will be appreciated while helping you get noticed.Be sure to provide a concierge document with the most important information at the top. List everything that guests need to know, including Wi-Fi password, emergency contact information, and more. In addition, suggest nearby shopping areas, great restaurants, and experiences your guests might appreciate. A selection of guidebooks might be appreciated, too!

Vacation rental bedroom, full of light; modern decorations, light colors, white linens.
Photo by Nienke Witteveen Fleuren

Keep Your Vacation Rental In Pristine Condition   

Nothing generates negative reviews quite so quickly as a home that has obvious faults. If you have time to manage your property yourself and have good connections with local cleaners and handymen, you can keep more of the profit. Otherwise, consider working with a property management company. They will help you with things like cleaning, linen replacement, maintenance, landscaping, and more. Your time will be your own, your property will be in good hands, and your guests will be far more likely to leave excellent reviews that in turn generate more interest – and more profits. 

Create The Perfect Listing

List your Hawaiian vacation rental with an eye toward highlighting its location and amenities along with property features. Visual appeal is an absolute must, so be sure to have your rental professionally photographed by someone with real estate photography expertise. Images can make or break your success on the rental market, so your photos are a great investment! 

In addition to still images, consider having a 3D tour created, so that potential guests can picture themselves enjoying a relaxing vacation in your home. Properties with 3D tours enjoy a stunning 14 percent increase in occupancy, reducing vacancies and maximizing profitability for their owners. 

Price your listing appropriately. Use local data to take advantage of higher rates during winter peak season. Lower the rates and generate more bookings during shoulder seasons, so it’s less likely to go unoccupied. 

Words matter! Your photos and 3D walkthrough will grab (and help keep!) visitors’ attention, but interesting copy can make a huge difference, particularly when it’s time to talk about your home’s location and amenities. Refer to local attractions too, as mentioning these can help potential guests find their way to your listing. Take inspiration from existing listings and have others read what you have written before publishing. As with all rentals, it is essential that you get your property in front of as many eyes as possible and have excellent reviews. While advertising on VRBO and Airbnb is a standard nowadays, it’s advised to also list your property on a local Hawaii-specific website.

Kilauea, Big Island, Hawaii
Photo by Cristian Guerrero

Final Thoughts

With the Aloha spirit in mind plus a little bit of help from property experts, it’s possible to maximize profits while taking pride in your Hawaiian vacation rental. Standing out from the competition means you’ll get great reviews faster while treating your guests to a memorable vacation.

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