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How to Run Your Vacation Rental Like a Business

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Owning a vacation rental home in Aspen or Snowmass serves two dynamic and enticing purposes. First, it’s a comfortable and inviting place to stay in an area that you love. Second— if run well— it provides a steady stream of income. It’s a classic win-win investment.

The idea of owning a vacation rental home in Aspen often sounds easy, exciting, and fun. You’ll take some photos of your home, put it up on a listing site, and then watch the income pour in— right? Well, not so fast. For a long-term, profitable vacation rental home, you need to run your vacation rental like a business.

Imagine for a moment that you are a small business owner opening up a new store. What are a few things you would need to do for your shop to run smoothly? First, decide what your financial goals are for the shop. Then, hire a trusted staff member or two to help out. You’ll want to keep your shop clean and inviting to customers. Make sure your marketing efforts are drawing the right customers to your shop. Evaluate your income and expenses often and make adjustments here and there as needed. 

These are all smart and reasonable plans for a shopkeeper— and owning a vacation rental home isn’t very different. There are certain items you need to consider in order for your business to run smoothly and turn a good profit.

Here are a few tips to help you operate your Aspen or Snowmass vacation rental home like a successful business. 

Budgets And Bank Accounts

If you’re just starting, or even if you’ve been renting your home for a few seasons, a detailed annual budget will help you maximize your return and reach your goals. 

Budgets and Bank Accounts - PMI Aspen Snowmass 720 East Durant Unit E-7 Aspen, CO 81611Using forecasts and previous rental income statements, map out estimated income for each month. This will help you see and anticipate the natural ebb and flow of operating a business in a popular tourist destination like Aspen. 

Next, budget for monthly expenses like utilities and supplies. Also, include any big upgrade expenses you foresee coming up that year— like replacing the roof or the HVAC system. Having a detailed forecast like this will help you maintain focus and clarity throughout the year.

Open a separate bank account for your vacation rental home and deposit all your vacation rental income into it. Pay your monthly expenses from this account, too. Keep your personal accounts and your vacation rental account separate. This will make everything easier for you and your tax preparer.

Hire Experts To Help Run Your Vacation Rental Like A Business

 Hire A Property Management Company - PMI Aspen Snowmass 720 East Durant Unit E-7 Aspen, CO 81611A steady stream of vacation rental income will cover most mortgage payments, taxes, and maintenance fees on the property. 

As with your primary residence, your vacation rental property might also qualify for tax deductions. These include mortgage interest, insurance premiums, property taxes, certain utilities, and other rental expenses. We recommend working with a real estate attorney or accountant to make sure you are taking full advantage of all the available tax breaks. 

You should also consult with a local property management company on licensing requirements for vacation rental homes in Aspen and Snowmass. 

Invest In Insurance

Insurance is a must-have for any small business owner— vacation rental homes included. Insurance not only protects you and your property, it also protects your guests in the event of an accident. Without proper insurance, you can be liable for any claims made against your property. 

You should have a $1 million liability rider on your home insurance policy. Unfortunately, some insurance companies won’t allow you to apply this to your personal umbrella policy. Shop around and do your research. Once again, a local property management company can provide insight into vacation rental home insurance.

Repair, Replace, And Repeat

A properly run vacation rental home is refreshed often. Rental homes suffer much more wear-and-tear than an average single-family home. So it’s important to keep an eye out for items that need attention— and make those repairs and replacements happen. Worn furnishings, scuffed trim, broken dishware, and even stained oven mitts are some examples of items needing regular replacement or repair.

A specific item to update often is linens. Guests traveling to Aspen and Snowmass are looking for luxury. For most guests, that luxury includes clean, fluffy towels and sumptuous, high-quality bedding. Don't forget about the little items like dish towels, cloth napkins, placemats, and bath mats— these should also be impeccable and high-quality. All linens should be changed out and replaced at least twice per year.

Keep It Clean— Really Clean

Keep Your Vacation Rental Clean - PMI Aspen Snowmass 720 East Durant Unit E-7 Aspen, CO 81611As with almost any business, one thing that guests value most in a vacation rental is cleanliness. Your vacation rental home should be sparkling clean and spotless, and smell fresh and inviting. Hire a professional, well-respected cleaning service with an impeccable reputation. 

Keep in mind that the key to an immaculate home is not the cleaner— it's the inspector. A proper housekeeping service will have separate inspectors who visit the home once the cleaners finish and scrutinize every nook and cranny. This inspection is essential to catch the little items that the cleaners may have missed.

Practice Good Customer Service

Vacation Rental Market Trends - PMI Aspen Snowmass 720 East Durant Unit E-7 Aspen, CO 81611Like owning any small business, it’s important to greet your guests and to follow up with them to ensure they had a pleasant experience. Think of it as good customer service. This doesn’t mean you have to physically welcome them to your home, but a brief and friendly welcome email will go a long way. 

Interact with all reviews too— thank the good ones and respond politely and constructively if you get dinged by a bad review. It’s also important to connect with potential guests organically and often through social media. And don’t forget to reach out to former guests and ask for reviews. The more reviews your home has, the better.

Keep Up With Marketing Trends

Sure, it's easy to snap a few quick photos and put your home on a listing site. You may even get some bookings this way. But maintaining a profitable vacation rental home takes a thoughtful and strategic marketing approach. 

Running your vacation rental like a successful business means staying competitive in your market. Successful business owners have their finger on the pulse of market trends. They make adjustments to keep up with their competition. You can do this by checking out other Aspen and Snowmass vacation rental listings and see what they’re offering to guests. Read their reviews to see what guests are saying about their property. Keep up with how other successful listings are being promoted. Ask yourself— how can you get your listing out in front of more potential guests and which platforms would be most effective? 

Don’t Close At The Most Profitable Time

Open During Peak Rental Dates - PMI Aspen Snowmass 720 East Durant Unit E-7 Aspen, CO 81611If you owned a shop, you wouldn’t kick out all your customers and hang a closed sign during your busiest hours. So consider leaving your vacation rental home open and available during the peak months for travelers. For Aspen and Snowmass, our peak season is December through March, so leave your vacation rental home open for business during this time. 

Ask yourself what your goals are with a vacation rental home. Are you looking for a place to return again and again throughout the peak season? Or do you want an investment that gives you a great return? If your goal is a profitable business, hang out your open sign during peak travel times.

Owning a vacation rental home in Aspen and Snowmass is an exciting and profitable investment. But it takes work to maintain and effort to realize the return you want. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the items mentioned here, consider enlisting an experienced property manager to do all this for you.  

Hiring a vacation rental management company is often the best way to ensure that you’re operating all aspects of your vacation rental professionally and effectively. And at PMI Aspen Snowmass, we offer a full range of property management services. We know that happy guests are repeat guests, and we are committed to providing 100% satisfaction. We offer a complete package of services to owners. These include streamlined accounting, effective marketing, top-of-the-line housekeeping, and skilled maintenance.

The experts at PMI Aspen Snowmass are here to help you manage your Aspen/Snowmass vacation rental home easily and profitably. Our staff has been managing vacation homes in this area for years and is very knowledgeable about what makes a vacation home like yours stand out from the crowd. 

Contact us today by calling 970-279-1805 or email us at and let us show you how we can minimize your stress and time commitment. We’ll help you run your vacation rental like a business.