I’ve been getting tons of questions lately about how I make money with my vacation rental business. It’s kind of a hot topic. Tons of people in the last few years have decided to rent a room, their whole house, their garage apartment, their beach condo….just to score a few extra bucks. It’s an awesome idea, and though potentially fraught with issues, it’s bringing people together in a pretty fun way.

As for me, I saw an opportunity in 2008 and going on a hunch, I snatched up my first lakeside property, closing just weeks before the Big Crash. Bad timing? Not really. It actually worked out great – suddenly, no one was taking vacations and the idea of the “staycation” took off. How did this benefit me? People were staying close to home and my vacation property was within an hour’s drive, or less, of several cities, large and small. No more flying to Florida for vacation; but a drive to central Missouri was friendly on the pocketbook. And my business took off. Within just a week or so of my purchase, I had my first guests.

Over the last decade, I’ve added to the flock – I built another property across the street from the first, bought one a ½ mile away and purchased yet another next door to my first. In the meantime, from all of my test-driving on my own properties, I learned a heck of a lot about the vacation business and turned to managing others’ properties in addition to my own.

I’ve learned about the tax laws; I’ve learned not to keep condiments in the fridge; I’ve learned to keep three sets of sheets on hand for each bed; I’ve learned that 99% of people are super great and just happy to be on vacation; I’ve learned that a scant 1% won’t be happy no matter what red carpet treatment I give them. Oh well.

I’ve struck deals, experimented with “specials” and discounts, underpriced, overpriced and everything in between. I’ve hired and fired more housekeepers than I want to count. I’ve branded all of my properties, the ones I own AND the ones I manage, with my own real name, not thinking through the potential consequences of this plan. The upside is that in doing so, I created a much broader business spanning far beyond vacation rentals.

Stay tuned. There’s more to come.

In the meantime, do you have any burning questions about how I did it – and more importantly, how you can do it, too?

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