Whether going it alone or considering partnering with a vacation rental management company, there are many possible pitfalls to avoid. Here are some of the top mistakes owners make when considering who and how to operate a vacation rental. Consider the following, and set up yourself up for long-lasting success.
✱ Assuming & Not Asking Questions
While the excitement of purchasing a vacation home can be exhilarating, don’t let that joy cloud your decision-making
- DON’T sign with the first PMC (property management company) that you speak with. Shop around and compare to get a better understanding of the available options, strategies, and to gather ideas if you’re considering going it alone.
- DON’T get “sold.” Some PMCs and sales folks are trying to get their commission and will say anything to get you to sign with them. Some contracts will even lock you in for months or even years. Be sure to get everything that you discuss verbally in writing.
- DON’T assume that guests know how vacation rentals work. If you’re going it alone you may have some hand-holding to do, which could take a substantial amount of time.
- DO get rental revenue projections before you sign up with anyone. If a company refuses to show you historicals or create a projection analysis for you, run in the opposite direction.
✱ Wrong Frame of Mind
There are 3 important things here:
- Owners with unrealistic revenue expectations. Element prioritizes transparency, as they believe all vacation rental companies should. PMCs should be willing to prepare a revenue projection analysis or show historicals for all prospective owners before any agreement is signed. This will give owners a rough estimate as to what they can expect. Most projections come with numerous disclaimers, but make sure you understand how they plan to reach the projected numbers then hold them accountable. Try scheduling a call or meeting once or twice a year in which performance for the previous period is discussed.
- Owners that treat their rental as anything less than a business. Your property represents so much more to you and your family, but once you start accepting rent, it becomes a business and will need to be treated as such to ensure its sustainability, your liability is limited and the risks are worth it financially.
- Slow start = bad thing. The truth is that rental momentum requires both time and alignment. Think of what you would look for when renting a property. Potential guests are looking for professional grade photos, an abundance of stellar reviews, and quick response times.
✱ Not Screening Guests
This mistake occurs far too often and is a potential nightmare waiting to happen. If you haven’t already, search for news stories about “vacation rentals.” Don’t let these horror stories scare you off, just remember to use effective methods in screening guests or inquire with your PMC on their procedures. It’s in everyone’s best interest to ensure it’s being done.
✱ Advertising on a Single Platform Versus Too Many
Think Goldilocks scenario – not too many, not too few
With a seemingly endless supply of marketing channels vying for your attention, many mistakes can be made. Research your options – certain booking channels simply don’t generate adequate bookings to justify their expenses and effort. Some have firm restrictions and terms, while others don’t share guest information. Not to mention percentage-based versus subscription-based fee structures. Quality PMCs will do this homework for owners and stay ahead of ever-changing trends.
✱ Not Utilizing a Rental Agreement
Florida is a very litigious state full of all sorts of crazy stories
The rental agreement is critical to the viability of your rental – the binding agreement between you and your guest, limiting liabilities and protecting all parties. Professional PMCs always know to use a well-written rental agreement prior to guests receiving the arrival information. A proper agreement typically includes stay dates, total trip cost, maximum occupancy, pet and smoking policies, and pool and spa regulations. And remember – just because something hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it won’t.
✱ Setting and Forgetting Rates
The cardinal sin of DIY owners!
If you take just one thing away from this article, please don’t set rates only once annually. Yield management is a practice said to have come from the airline industry’s efforts to capitalize on every single seat. In typical supply and demand fashion, base rates are set initially, but quickly and frequently adjusted in response to market demands. Keep your ear to the ground, pay attention to the data and don’t be afraid to adjust your rates up or down in order to maximize bookings. Remember – your property is perishable; unsold nights go spoiled.
✱ Not Setting and Following Policies
By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.
There will often be gray areas with certain policies and procedures where you’ll want to help the guest, but not staying consistent in the grander scheme of things will almost always cause issues down the road. Quality PMCs enforce reasonable policies and procedures, which not only limit their liability, but the property’s as well. For owners thinking of going it alone, significant time should be spent developing your standard operating policies and procedures. This should always be completed before opening your home to guests but now is better than never if you’re already in operation. Consider how to deal with emergencies, your key procedures to ensure the safety of every guest, what your cancellation policies and screening processes are, and so on.
✱ Limited Contact Availability
Vacation rentals have come a long way, but still lag behind hotels in ease of booking.
Since staying in a vacation rental involves people’s personal homes, a screening process needs to take place, rental agreements need to be signed, and deposits and payments need to be received. This creates a lot of work for the individual or company managing the process. We find that roughly one in four inquires result in an actual booking. While you may believe you can balance your day job and your vacation rental tasks, you may want to examine the service you’re providing from a guest perspective. If a guest submits inquires for a handful of properties on Vrbo, and your response takes 48 hours while others responded in under 1 hour, who do you think the guest is most likely to book with?
New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest celebrations of the year, and Central Florida is no exception. From theme parks to downtown parties, there are plenty of places to ring in the new year in style. Here are some of the top places to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Central Florida:
Walt Disney World: The most magical place on earth is also one of the best places to celebrate New Year’s Eve. All four theme parks offer special events and fireworks displays, and Epcot’s World Showcase features an epic countdown and a dazzling fireworks show that’s sure to impress.
Universal Studios Orlando: Universal Studios Orlando hosts a New Year’s Eve party that’s perfect for families. There are live performances, dance parties, and character meet-and-greets. The park stays open late so you can ride your favorite attractions and enjoy the fireworks show at midnight.
Downtown Orlando: If you’re looking for a lively party scene, head to downtown Orlando. The city hosts a massive block party on Orange Avenue, featuring live music, food vendors, and a countdown to midnight. Many bars and nightclubs in the area also offer their own New Year’s Eve events.
ICON Park: ICON Park is a popular entertainment complex on International Drive that offers panoramic views of Orlando. On New Year’s Eve, you can enjoy dinner and drinks at one of the many restaurants, ride the towering ICON Orlando observation wheel, and watch the fireworks display at midnight.
Church Street Station: This historic district in downtown Orlando is home to a variety of restaurants, bars, and clubs, all of which offer their own New Year’s Eve events. The centerpiece of the celebration is the giant orange drop, which descends from a crane at midnight.
No matter where you choose to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Central Florida, you’re sure to have a memorable time. Whether you’re watching fireworks, dancing the night away, or simply enjoying a delicious meal, there’s no better way to ring in the new year than in the heart of the Sunshine State.
While Central Florida is best known for its theme parks, there are also plenty of off-the-beaten-path attractions that are worth exploring. If you’re looking for something different to do on your next trip to Disney World, here are five hidden gems that are worth checking out:
Gatorland – Located just 15 minutes from Disney World, Gatorland is a 110-acre alligator park and wildlife preserve that has been entertaining visitors since 1949. Here, you can see thousands of alligators and crocodiles up close, as well as other native Florida wildlife like snakes, birds, and panthers.
Old Town Kissimmee – This vintage amusement park and shopping center in Kissimmee is a throwback to classic Americana, with a collection of restored carnival rides, souvenir shops, and a weekly classic car show. It’s a fun and quirky way to spend an afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks.
Dezerland: Located in the heart of Orlando, Dezerland is a unique museum that features a vast collection of classic cars, Hollywood movie props, and even a James Bond exhibit. Visitors can also enjoy go-kart racing, virtual reality experiences, and an arcade.
Crystal River Manatee Swim: Crystal River is the only place in Florida where you can legally swim with manatees in their natural habitat. The gentle giants come to Crystal River’s warm waters each winter to escape the colder Gulf of Mexico temperatures. Visitors can take a guided tour to observe or even swim with these endangered animals.
International Drive: While it’s not exactly off-the-beaten-path, International Drive is often overlooked by visitors to Central Florida. This bustling stretch of road is home to a variety of unique attractions, including the Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, the Orlando Eye observation wheel, and the Fun Spot America amusement park.
These off-the-beaten-path attractions are just a few examples of the unique and unforgettable experiences you can have in Central Florida. So the next time you visit Disney World, consider taking a detour to explore some of these hidden gems, you won’t be disappointed.
Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival is an annual event that takes place at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. This festival is a celebration of cuisine and culture from around the world, featuring food and beverage tastings, live entertainment, and special events.
The festival typically begins in late summer and continues through fall. If this is your first time attending this festival, here’s everything you need to know to make the most of your experience:
Food and Drink Offerings
One of the highlights of the International Food & Wine Festival is the vast array of food and drink options available. Guests can sample dishes from over 20+ different global marketplaces, each offering a unique culinary experience. The menus change from year to year, but you can expect to find everything from sushi to tacos, along with a wide selection of beer, wine, and cocktails.
Throughout the festival, guests can enjoy live music and entertainment from around the world. The Eat to the Beat concert series features performances from popular artists, while the World Showcase stage hosts cultural performances and demonstrations.
The International Food & Wine Festival also offers a range of special events for guests to enjoy. These include culinary demonstrations, beverage seminars, and exclusive dining experiences featuring renowned chefs. Tickets for these events can sell out quickly, so be sure to book in advance if there’s a particular event that interests you. Check https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/epcot-international-food-and-wine-festival often for updates.
If you’re a fan of Disney merchandise, you’ll definitely want to check out the festival’s special merchandise offerings. From t-shirts to pins to kitchen gadgets, there’s something for every Disney and foodie fan.
Tips for Attending
To make the most of your International Food & Wine Festival experience, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Plan your visit on a weekday if possible, as weekends can get crowded.
- Consider purchasing a festival passport, which includes menus and stickers to mark off the marketplaces you visit.
- If you’re planning to attend a special event, book your tickets early as they often sell out quickly.
- Be sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable shoes, as much of the festival takes place outdoors.
Overall, Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival is a must-visit event for foodies and Disney fans alike. With so much to see, taste, and experience, it’s a celebration of culture and cuisine that shouldn’t be missed.
The Kennedy Space Center, located on the east coast of Florida about 60 minutes away from Disney World, is a major spaceport and launch site for NASA and its partners like SpaceX, Blue Origin, ULA, and more. It is open to the public and offers a range of educational and immersive experiences for visitors. Here is everything you need to know about the Kennedy Space Center:
The Kennedy Space Center was originally established as the Launch Operations Directorate in 1962, but was later renamed in honor of President John F. Kennedy, who set the goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. The first manned Apollo mission, Apollo 8, was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in 1968.
Exhibits and Experiences
The Kennedy Space Center offers a wide range of exhibits and experiences that provide insight into the history and future of space exploration. Here are some of the most popular attractions:
- Space Shuttle Atlantis: This exhibit features the Space Shuttle Atlantis, which flew 33 missions in space. Visitors can see the shuttle up close and learn about its history and capabilities.
- Rocket Garden: The Rocket Garden features a collection of historic rockets and spacecraft, including the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsules.
- Heroes and Legends: This exhibit honors the astronauts who have contributed to the exploration of space. It includes interactive exhibits and artifacts from various space missions.
- IMAX Theater: The IMAX Theater shows a variety of films about space exploration, including documentaries and fictional movies.
- Astronaut Training Experience: This experience offers visitors the chance to train like an astronaut, including simulations of a Mars mission and spacewalks.
- Launch Control Center Tour: Visitors can take a tour of the Launch Control Center, which has been used for all manned missions since Apollo 8.
- Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex: The Gateway exhibit is one of the newest attractions at the Center, and it showcases NASA’s plans for deep space exploration. The exhibit includes a life-size model of the Gateway, which is a space station that will orbit the moon and serve as a staging point for missions to Mars and beyond. There is also an actual SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on display.
The Kennedy Space Center is still an active launch site and offers visitors the opportunity to witness rocket launches. Launch schedules are subject to change, but visitors can check the Kennedy Space Center website for the latest information.
Tips for Visiting
- Plan ahead: The Kennedy Space Center is a popular attraction and can get crowded, especially during peak seasons or launch days. Plan your visit ahead of time to ensure that you can see everything you want to see.
- Wear comfortable shoes: The Kennedy Space Center is a large facility and requires a lot of walking. Wear comfortable shoes to make the most of your visit.
- Visit during a launch: Seeing a rocket launch is a truly unforgettable experience. Check the launch schedule and plan your visit accordingly.
- KSC Explore Tour Addon: For about $25 added onto your admission ticket, you can skip the lines for the Saturn V bus tour. Highly Recommend
- Chat with an Astronaut: During this experience, the Astronaut of the Day sits down in a casual, small-group setting to answer your most pressing questions. Enjoy a sampling of food and beverages while having a group conversation about what it’s really like to live and work in space. With plenty of time for questions, you are sure to leave with incredible stories to share. Highly Recommend
The Kennedy Space Center is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in space exploration and the history of NASA. With its interactive exhibits, immersive experiences, and exciting rocket launches, it is an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.
Central Florida is a hot spot for water parks, with some of the best in the country located right here in the Sunshine State. Whether you’re looking for thrilling water slides, lazy rivers, or just a place to cool off on a hot day, Central Florida has something for everyone. Here’s a guide to some of our favorite water parks in the area.
Blizzard Beach: This Disney World waterpark is a winter wonderland in the heart of Florida. With thrilling water slides like Summit Plummet and Slush Gusher, as well as a wave pool and lazy river, there’s something for everyone.
Universal’s Volcano Bay: This waterpark transports you to a South Pacific paradise, complete with a towering volcano that houses the Krakatau Aqua Coaster. Other attractions include a wave pool, a lazy river, Honu of the Honu ika Moana (meaning Turtle & Whale), and the Ko’okiri Body Plunge with its 70-degree drop through a trapdoor.
SeaWorld’s Aquatica: This waterpark is themed after the South Pacific and features thrilling water slides like the Ihu’s Breakaway Falls, the Omaka Rocka, and the Taumata Racer. There’s also a lazy river, a wave pool, and an epic kids’ area with smaller slides and water features.
LEGOLAND Water Park: Located within LEGOLAND Florida Resort, this water park offers a unique LEGO-themed experience with attractions like the LEGO Wave Pool and the Build-A-Raft River. Kids can also build their own LEGO creations while lounging poolside.
Typhoon Lagoon: Another Disney World waterpark, Typhoon Lagoon offers a more tropical experience with its surf pool, lazy river, and water slides. Thrill-seekers can tackle the Crush ‘n’ Gusher, a water coaster that sends riders through twists and turns.
Island H2O Water Park: Located on Route 192 in Kissimmee, Island H2O is a unique water park that uses technology to enhance the guest experience. With the park’s app, visitors can create their own profiles, customize their ride experiences, and share photos and videos on social media. The park features over 20 attractions, including the wickedly fun Reply Racers and the relaxing River Run.
No matter which waterpark you choose, be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen, wear comfortable swimwear, and stay hydrated throughout the day. With so many options to choose from, you’re sure to have a splashing good time in Central Florida.
Central Florida is one of the best places to spend the holiday season, with its mild weather and a wide range of festive events and celebrations. Here’s some of o0ur must-dos when planning your perfect holiday getaway to Central Florida:
- Disney World is a must-visit during the holiday season, with dazzling decorations, enchanting holiday-themed shows, and special events like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
- Guests can take a stroll down Main Street, U.S.A. and admire the towering Christmas tree and festive wreaths adorning the shops and buildings. TIP: epic photos await once the sun sets for the evening
- Don’t miss the nightly fireworks spectacular, which features a special holiday-themed finale.
- Universal Orlando Resort also gets into the holiday spirit, with Grinchmas and other festive events. TIP: be sure to reserve Breakfast with The Grinch
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with snow-covered roofs, holiday decorations, and special holiday-themed food and drinks.
- Guests can also enjoy the Universal Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s, which features larger-than-life balloons, colorful floats, and characters from popular holiday movies and TV specials.
- The Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee hosts a variety of holiday events, including an ICE! exhibit featuring ice sculptures and a Christmas light show.
- Guests can also enjoy snow tubing, ice skating, and a gingerbread decorating workshop.
- The resort’s holiday decorations include a stunning 54-foot-tall Christmas tree and a nightly light show in the atrium.
- SeaWorld Orlando offers a Christmas celebration with holiday shows, festive decorations, and special events like the Sesame Street Christmas Parade.
- The park’s Christmas Market features a variety of holiday treats, handmade crafts, and seasonal merchandise.
- Guests can also take a spin on the park’s ice skating rink or take a ride on the Sea of Trees, a wintery wonderland of lighted trees on the water.
- Legoland Florida Resort offers its own holiday celebration, with a dazzling 30-foot-tall Christmas tree made entirely out of Legos.
- Guests can take a ride on the Holly Jolly Trolley, visit Santa’s Workshop, and watch a live musical show featuring LEGO characters.
- The park’s decorations include holiday-themed LEGO models, twinkling lights, and colorful garlands.
No matter where you choose to spend the holidays in Central Florida, there’s sure to be plenty of festive fun and magic to go around!
Universal Epic Universe will be Universal Orlando’s third theme park and the newest in Central Florida in over 20 years. Here is everything we know so far about this epic project.
The estimated opening date is set for Summer 2025
The park will cover an area of about 750 acres and will not be physically connected to the current Universal parks although nearby
Epic Universe will open with five distinct lands:
How to Train Your Dragon
Super Nintendo World
The Wizarding World
Confirmed Rides coming to Epic Universe
Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge
Donkey Kong Mine Cart Coaster
Rumored Rides coming to Epic Universe
Frankenstein’s Manor (dark ride)
How to Train Your Dragon Coaster (steel launch coaster)
How to Train Your Dragon Sky Fly flat rides
Indoor Ministry of Magic Adventure (fast, high thrill)