Portugal has always been a first-class holiday destination, but last year the country took things to the next level, smashing all previous occupancy records. Sounds like a great opportunity to make some money renting your home out to tourists, but how can you rise above the herd?
If you own a property in Portugal and plan to rent it out, there are several things you can do to make it rise above the others in online reviews. You can also reduce the stresses associated with short term rentals by getting some basics right. Whether you’re renting like this for the first time, or you’ve been in the game for several years, here are some tips to up your holiday rental game.
Neutral and practical is the order of the day when furnishing a rental property in Portugal.
1. Choose furniture wisely
If you’re furnishing a property as a holiday rental, it’s wise to think a little differently than you would if you were doing it just for you. Individual tastes vary, so what’s quirky to some is a turn-off for others – sometimes to the point that people will leave negative reviews if they don’t share your tastes. Neutral and practical is the order of the day. Easy-to-clean leather or faux-leather sofas are a good idea. It’s easy to source this kind of furniture in Portugal, thanks to IKEA and stores like Casa and Conforama. While many management companies offer to arrange furniture packs, it makes sense to do it yourself if you have the time, as there’s often a huge mark-up.
2. Check out your management agency
Get chatting in any expat bar in Portugal and you won’t have to look hard to find people who “work in rental management”. This can mean anything from dealing with cleans and check-ins for a couple of apartments to running a bona fide management company.
Choosing the right individuals to manage your affairs is crucial to successfully renting your Portuguese property. They will act as the customer-facing part of the whole operation, and you’re trusting them with a valuable asset AND your rental income. Ask a lot of questions and seek more than one reference.
One way to check out a new management company is to have friends “mystery shop” your holiday let without revealing they know you. You’ll find out exactly what your guests will experience.
“The monthly price for a fixed phone line and broadband package from the likes of MEO starts at around €25.”
3. Get good Wi-Fi!
Wi-Fi is considered essential by most people, so offer something that works reliably. It’s possible to use a 4G mobile hotspot for this, and there is a good signal for this in most tourist areas. However, mobile broadband packages often come with data limits, which will run down very quickly if your guests decide to watch any streaming TV – which they almost certainly will.
As a result, it’s worth the investment in fixed line broadband for your rental property. The monthly price for a fixed phone line and broadband package from the likes of MEO starts at around €25. Some owners may baulk at paying this for something they don’t use all year round themselves, but it’s easy to earn the cost back if reviews mentioning “great broadband” result in just one extra booking each year.
4. Include a welcome pack
You know that feeling when you arrive tired and stressed at your holiday home and are desperate for it to be nice for you and your family? One great way to make a good first impression is with an unexpected welcome gift. It’s something people often remark on when they leave an online review too.
Thanks to Portugal’s lovely local foods at low prices, you can leave an upmarket welcome pack including things like local wines and olive oil for very little money – more than worthwhile for the feedback you will gain.
5. Think about utility bills
One thing that can seriously cut into rental income is big utility bills. Tourists are often too busy enjoying themselves to thinking about switching off the air conditioning when they’re going out all day. Think about how to mitigate this. Consider devices that turn off air conditioning when people leave, and use (polite, rather than nagging) notes asking people to consider water and electricity consumption. On that subject, a fascinating study on how to get your guests to be less wasteful is included here.