A frequent concern among VRMs is whether or not their list of amenities has an effect on booking rates. To settle your minds, there aren’t many make-or-break vacation rental amenities. When it comes to short-term rentals, guests are much less likely to discount a property over its lack of non-essential items.

Generally, people understand that amenities only have a very loose correlation with property quality. But that doesn’t mean they don’t make a huge difference in guest experience. And guest experience, as we all know, has a direct effect on your booking rate.

Function gets you the booking, thoughtfulness keeps them coming.

Rather than making efforts to check off every single amenity option on your listing pages, let’s be strategic. Your focus should be on two areas: function and thoughtfulness. A recent customer survey by Airbnb found that a majority of guests prefer function over thoughtfulness.

So, what does that mean for us? While the coffee machine should be in your listing to help secure bookings, including a selection of exotic coffee beans at the property would be a thoughtful bonus. Potential guests are looking for a coffee machine before the beans.

For every functional amenity, there’s a thoughtful extra that has the potential to send your guest reviews through the roof.

Examples of Going the Extra Mile with your Amenities

Airbnb Amenity ItemThoughtful Extras
Hair DryerHaircare Products
Cable TVNetflix / Roku
Alarm ClockBlackout curtains, sleep masks, ear plugs
StereoBluetooth speakers, iPod dock
Double/Queen/King size bedSelection of firm and soft pillows
TVDVD collection, family-friendly seletions for children
BathroomExtra toothbrushes, razors
Fridge / FreezerStocked essentials / snacks
Swimming poolPool toys and floating devices for children
BathtubEffervescent bath bombs
Free Wireless InternetMobile charging station
Bed LinenExtra linen sets
Coffee Maker in RoomSelection of beans and grinder

You’ll notice that everything on the extras list will go unmentioned on your listing unless you write it in yourself. In this case, we’re not actually looking to improve our listing – there’s plenty of other ways to do that. This is strictly about customer experience.

Of course you’re not expected to be supplying all of these extras – that’s not going to help your profits. But you’d be amazed at how just a couple surprises can improve your reviews. These are the things that stick out in peoples’ minds when they think back on their stay.

If you’ve read the Airbnb SEO guide, you already know the importance of improving your customer experiences. To summarize, the number of 5-star reviews for your listing improves your rankings in Airbnb’s location results. That means more bookings.

The correlation between reviews and bookings isn’t just limited to Airbnb though. Booking.com isn’t as open as Airbnb, but they do stress customer experience as their most important ranking factor. In explaining listing visibility in search results, they say the following:

“we suggest that you regularly check your price quality score, the flexibility of your policies, guest reviews, promotions, property page score and inventory to make sure you’re providing guests with the right offering at the right time”

So, as with most things in the VRM/OTA world, if Airbnb and Booking.com are doing it, everyone else is too. You have a perfect opportunity to improve your customer experience by fluffing up your amenity offerings. Give it a try and see what happens.