14 Feb 2023
With thousands of options up and down the Outer Banks for visitors looking to book a vacation rental home, you want your rental home to stand apart. You’ve spent countless hours working to decorate and equip your home to make it beautiful, inviting, and comfortable while offering the ultimate Outer Banks vacation experience.
The reality, however, is that a lot of times, visitors are going to be looking online for homes with specific amenities that will suit their needs. And if your home doesn’t have what they’re looking for, there’s a chance they’ll end up choosing a different home.
What is an Amenity?
Amenities at a vacation rental property are essentially any additional things that you can provide that will make your guests’ vacation experience that much more enjoyable (or will add extra value to the property). This includes everything from WiFi and streaming services on the TVs to Game Rooms, Swimming Pools, and Beach Gear.
Every home isn’t going to have every amenity, but when booking rental properties, guests have the option to filter homes with certain amenities, so if you don’t have the certain amenities that they’re looking for, your property won’t even appear as an option for their vacation.
Keep reading to find out our top 12 most-recommended amenities to consider including as part of your vacation rental property as well as several options when you’re ready to buy them. (Please note: WiFi and TV are not included in this list because most renters expect that the property will have those readily available.)
This amenity is first on our list for a reason. While there are plenty of amazing restaurants for guests to go to when dining out and most rental properties come with fully-equipped kitchens, the reality is that many people who come to the Outer Banks on vacation are daydreaming of grilling out by the pool or enjoying fresh-grilled seafood on the sand. Whether you choose to include a gas grill, a park-style grill, or a charcoal grill, including any type of grill will make renters more likely to choose your property.
Top-Rated Gas Grill: Weber Genesis II E-335 Liquid Propane Gas Grill in Black with Built-in Thermometer
Top-Rated Charcoal Grill: Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill 22"
2. Full Kitchen with Coffee Maker and/or Keurig
Unsurprisingly, people don’t stop drinking coffee when they go on vacation. In fact, we’ve compiled a whole list of coffee shops up and down the Outer Banks that cater to that caffeine craving. However, most people prefer to at least have those first few cups at home so including a standard drip coffee maker, a Keurig, or both will be essential for securing bookings. In fact, why not create a fun, aesthetic coffee bar that will appeal to your guests and give them plenty of opportunities to take (and post) beautiful pictures of your home…thus encouraging repeat bookings AND new renters.
3. Streaming Services
As we mentioned earlier, guests generally expect there to be at least one television in the home, if not one in every room. But the way to make sure that your vacation rental property makes it to the top of everyone’s list is to consider including streaming sticks and services. Whether you prefer Roku or Amazon Firestick, providing the software and paying for streaming subscriptions like Netflix or Hulu can help boost ratings and ensure satisfied guests that come back year after year. While there’s nothing wrong with requiring guests to bring their own streaming sticks or use their own accounts, having it all set up for them can provide that extra boost that keeps them happy and tell others about your property.
Even though guests are usually only staying at our rental properties for a week at a time, spending time at the beach and getting covered in salt and sand means that, more often than not, guests are going to prefer rentals where they can wash and dry their clothes for free. And since most vacation rental properties on the beach were built with residential living in mind, there’s a good chance that your home is already equipped with the plumbing and you’ll just need to supply the equipment. Consider this one of those upfront investments that will pay off in the long run.
5. Beach Equipment
When you rent your home through Seaside Vacations, we offer credit for rental equipment that guests pay for as part of their booking fees. However, having equipment on-site for your guests to use can provide that extra boost that encourages bookings even during the off-season. What kind of equipment you choose to include for guest use is entirely up to you but can include everything from beach chairs and umbrellas to kayaks, bicycles, or sand toys for the kids.
For beach equipment, you can always check out local stores like Nags Head Ben Franklin or head up to Walmart for something quick and easy that you can take back to your rental that same day!
6. Fire Pit
Few things are as wonderful as a bonfire, whether it’s on the beach, in the woods, or in your own backyard. However, not every beach on the Outer Banks allows bonfires (see more here) so you can boost the appeal of your rental by giving your guests the option to have a fire in a safe, open space in the backyard of your property. Fire pits of various sizes and designs can be purchased at places like Home Depot or Lowes, or even online, and offer your guests the promise of cozy evenings beneath the stars eating marshmallows or relishing a cool drink. This is one of those investments that isn’t overly expensive but can really pay off with bookings over time.
Check out this Multifunctional Fire Pit Table or this highly-rated Propane Outland Living Firebowl on Amazon for affordable options that will increase bookings and customer satisfaction at your rental!
7. Outdoor Furniture
Selecting the kind of furniture you want for your rental can be as basic or as extravagant as you and your budget will allow. Offering views of the ocean or the sunset over the sound are definitely even more appealing when you offer them from the comfort of an Adirondack lounger or rocking chair. Before investing, do some additional research to determine what kind of furniture will not only look best with the overall design and feel of your house but will also be able to withstand the sometimes harsh weather of the Outer Banks while maintaining its beauty and integrity. This means considering HDPE/Poly Lumber for your outdoor furniture as it is more apt to withstand the sun and rain that alternate so often on the OBX. Alternatively, if your property is right on the water, consider teak outdoor furniture which, while more expensive, is unique because of its ability to withstand the wear and tear of saltwater.
This is a fun one and something easy to install anywhere on your vacation rental property. When people imagine trips to the beach, they often think of hammocks hung between palm trees that are perfect for taking a nap or reading in the warm weather. And while you’re not going to find any naturally growing palm trees on the Outer Banks, there are various ways to include a hammock as a perk of your vacation rental. Consider purchasing a stand-alone frame, allowing you to set up your hammock anywhere you like, or hang it beneath a sun deck. Some of our homeowners have hammocks set up in the carport for easy relaxation as soon as you get out of the car while others put them on mid-level covered decks, creating the perfect space to curl up with a book or take a nap after a day at the beach. Wherever you decide to put your hammock, you can rest assured that guests will love the opportunity to lay back and relax.
Check out Nags Head Hammocks for all sorts of options from Rope or Quilted Hammocks to Swings to Cumaru Chairs. They've been servicing the Outer Banks and beyond since 1974, making them the go-to place for a quality relaxation station.
9. Private Pool and/or Hot Tub
If your landscaping allows it, finding the place to put a private pool and/or a warm, bubbly hot tub can drastically increase not only the value of your property but booking interest, as well. There are lots of different options for what type of pool you want to install so consider what kind of upkeep will be required when installing. There are freshwater vs. saltwater options as well as heated vs. unheated. Each comes with its own set of maintenance recommendations, so be sure to do your research first. Hot tubs are a little more versatile and can be placed in many different places on your property to give your guests the best relaxation experience. People come to the Outer Banks to get away from it all and a warm, bubbly hot tub can help them do just that. If it’s possible, installing both a pool and a hot tub will drastically increase renter interest but it will still boost your property value if you’re only able to purchase one.
10. Outdoor Lighting
This recommendation can be one of the more simple ones, but it can have a dramatic effect on not only photos of your property but guest perception and reviews, as well. And when it comes to choosing the type of outdoor lighting that will work best for your property, like most things on this list, you can go as intense or as subtle as you like. You can choose from everything from tea lights to string lights to gorgeous outdoor chandeliers and solar lighting, all of which will add a distinct ambiance and flair to your property that guests are sure to enjoy. HGTV has a guide to outdoor lighting here, but below are some of our favorite suggestions for beachside outdoor lighting.
Rope Lights: Ollny LED Rope Lights 100 LED/33ft Christmas Lights
Whether you’re looking to put these lights inside or outside, rope lights are always a fantastic option for adding a little bit of spark to your patio, deck, or outside picnic area. These particular lights, available on Amazon for less than $30, can change between 16 different colors and can make any space feel like a party.
String Patio Lights: Addlon 48FT Outdoor String Lights Commercial Grade Weatherproof Strand, 18 Edison Vintage Bulbs
11. Gaming Tables
Game Rooms and Gaming Tables are one of our most searched-for amenities. Guests LOVE being able to relax after a day at the beach around a game of Foosball or Billiards. Some of our homes even offer stand-up arcade games and theater rooms, bringing in more guests. This is one of those amenities where you can invest as much, or as little, as you'd like. If you've got the space, have fun with it! Consider a themed-gaming area or a sophisticated room with a Billiards Table and a Wet Bar. However you choose to spin it, you really can't go wrong by adding more ways for your guests to have fun indoors. And if you'd rather your gaming area have a more old-fashioned feel, board games and puzzles are always a plus.
Be sure to check local Marketplace and yard sales for arcade games and tables on sale. Places like Dick's Sporting Goods and even Target or Walmart also offer great options for foosball and pool.
12. Pet Friendly
We know that this one is a personal preference, but guests are increasingly searching for rentals that will let them bring their fur babies along. And fortunately, in terms of rental preparation, there's minimal cost to you as the homeowner since our pet fee covers cleaning fees and guests are generally liable for any damage done to the property. You'll get more bookings once guests start to see that your home welcomes canine family members, meaning more filled weeks and less stress on your end. For more on Seaside Vacations' pet policy, check out our Outer Banks Dog Info Guide here.
Let Us Help!
With decades of experience and a dedicated revenue team, Seaside Vacations will work with you to set yearly rates that are competitive while ensuring that you’re getting the most out of your property investment. We love property management on the Outer Banks and it shows. Family-owned and locally managed for over 30 years, Seaside Vacations goes above and beyond to make sure property management is Hassle-Free, meaning that we’ll take care of the details so that you can get back to taking care of the things that matter most to you.
When you’re ready to give us a try, fill out this form for your Complimentary Rental Projection or give us a call at (252) 616-1056 to find out more about property management with Seaside Vacations today!
We’re experienced and here to help.
About the Author: Lauren is a mom, author, and travel enthusiast. An Outer Banks native, Lauren has a Masters in History from the University of Nebraska, which she earned after completing an undergraduate degree in History at UNC-Chapel Hill and serving a tour in the Coast Guard. When she isn’t writing for the Seaside Vacations Travel Blog, Lauren can usually be found with a book and cup of tea in hand, planning her next travel adventure.