How to encourage repeat bookings at your holiday rental

How to encourage repeat bookings at your holiday rental

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Holiday rental owner Sara McDaniel shares her top tips for creating unforgettable experiences that keep guests coming back.

My holiday rental journey started when I bought and renovated a couple of properties. Then, my business really grew when I renovated eight historic villas and started running them as a boutique holiday rental property. After three years, I now have 11 properties and I’ve learned a lot about how to create outstanding guest experiences that will keep guests coming back for more. 

Put systems in place to help you grow your business

When I first began my holiday rental business, things happened quickly. I was doing all the cleaning, as well as managing all the listings, coordinating the bookings and doing the marketing. That’s not something I’d recommend! If I’d had the chance, I would have put systems in place sooner to help manage everything. There are lots of channel management software options to manage your listings on multiple platforms, sync calendars so you don’t get double bookings, and just keep everything running smoothly.

I now have a cleaning team, a bookkeeper to look after the finances, and I’ve just hired a marketing firm to run ads on Facebook and Google. When you’re looking to grow your business, you need to have people and platforms you trust to help manage day-to-day activities. This frees you up to spend time focusing on ways to make your guest experience extra special and encourage more repeat bookings.

Create a unique guest experience with bespoke touches 

One thing that separates my properties from other holiday rentals is that we consistently provide a five-star experience. When my guests enter one of our villas for the first time, I immediately want to hit all five of their senses. We diffuse our own custom lavender fragrance through the property, so the villa smells calm and peaceful, and we have soft music playing on the TV. We have high-quality linens on the bed, so our guests feel warm and cosy. We also created our own custom blend of amazing coffee that’s available in every room. This attention to detail definitely pays off – we get five-star reviews and guests often comment about how comfortable our beds are, and that they love the way our villa smells.

Focus on little bespoke touches that will create a memorable experience from the moment the guest steps into your property. Aim for that five-star feel, and you’ll notice the difference when it comes to reviews, word of mouth and repeat bookings.

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Go above and beyond with cleanliness and communication 

When it comes to creating experiences that keep guests coming back, my two top tips for other hosts would be extreme cleanliness and outstanding communication. First of all, your property needs to be white-glove clean after every single guest. We wash all bedding after every check out, and I have amazing cleaners. They know the importance of making sure there’s not a single eyelash on the bathroom sink, not one hair in the bathtub, and no dust bunnies behind the furniture. Your property has to be pristine from top to bottom, every single time. You can’t scrimp on cleanliness.

Secondly, you have to go above and beyond with your communication. I have notifications set up on my personal mobile and my business phone, so we’re almost always able to respond within five minutes or less. We respond immediately, we are over-the-top kind and extremely accommodating when it comes to guest requests. If someone wants to check in early or check out late, we’ll accommodate if it’s possible, and we won’t charge extra. Making the communication experience optimal for your guests is key when it comes to getting repeat business.

Use social media to create a loyal community 

The most significant growth to my holiday rental business was when I renovated eight villas. I renovated them over the course of about 18 months, documenting the process on social media, for all to see. 

I believe that if you really want to take your business to the next level, and benefit from repeat bookings, it’s important to maintain a high-profile social media presence as an advocate for your business. I post on social media almost every day, and my feed is full of beautiful photos of my properties, with a lot of before and after shots. In my stories I like to get into the nitty gritty and explain how we did things. I get regular questions from potential guests, and I’m building relationships through social media. I’m also getting more bookings. For example, I have one lady from Louisiana who saw the villa renovations on social media and has visited three or four times now, because she eventually wants to stay in all eight!

Take it to the next level with decor and design 

Finally for holiday rentals, it’s important to stand out from the crowd, and the photographs on your listing need to be amazing. And if you want to grow your business, you really have to level up your decor. I’ve given each one of my eight villas an individual character through the interior design and I’ve kept a consistent approach across all the properties by mixing and matching lots of patterns. For example, I might have bold wallpaper patterns on the walls, and then I use a rug in the same room with another kind of distinct pattern. But all the colours and patterns complement each other, even down to the bedding and the bathroom tiles.

When it comes to the decor and design of my properties, I also really like to preserve as many of the architectural features and details as I can – each of the villas has the original arches or fireplaces incorporated into the renovation. Maintaining the character of the building is something that guests really appreciate. Look for ways to create unique character and appeal inside your property by implementing design features that will stand out and keep guests coming back from more.


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  • Put systems and people in place to help manage your day-to-day activities, freeing you up to focus on the things that make your property stand out
  • Add unique touches to your property that help create an outstanding guest experience as soon as they arrive – appeal to all their senses
  • Be a proactive advocate for your business on social media and use your channels to attract guests and build relationships with a loyal community 
  • Look for opportunities to give your property unique aesthetic appeal with striking designs, and make the most of any original features that add character 
  • Do whatever you can to optimise your guest communication – be quick, be clear and be as accommodating as possible, this is key to getting repeat business