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Commercial Real Estate
Feb 15, 2022

Transformation of The Short-Term Rental Industry

Sponsored Content provided by Mike Harrington - CEO & Owner, Carolina Retreats

Part II - Guest Expectations
Our industry, the Short-Term Rental (STR) industry has changed dramatically since COVID and the advent of work from anywhere. That transformation has impacted facilities, conveniences and services that are most important to most travelers, regardless of whether they are work-from-homers or vacationers.
Some of these trends are centered around furnishings and décor, and others are centered around what most guests insist are necessities. 
Here, we’d like to share the amenities that may now make or break a reservation.

High-Speed WiFi

This is no longer a luxury for your guests, it’s a necessity. Not just for WFH guests, but all guests. There are few people who don’t have high–speed WiFi at home and whatever your opinion may be, they expect it in their STRs, too. It also must be able to support multiple devices.

Office Space

Don’t worry, guests don’t necessarily expect a dedicated home office. However, they do expect a well-furnished space, with an ergonomic chair, desk, and good lighting. Bonus points for extra outlets and USB ports. While this is of course, most important for WFH guests, all your guests will appreciate having a space to get on their laptop and check email.

Smart TVs

Or at the very least, cable TV. Even during vacation, guests enjoy the option of watching their favorite Netflix, Prime, Hulu, etc. shows.

Smart Home Features/Security Features

Up your cool factor significantly with smart home features. While upgrading these features is an investment, you will find an increased savings in energy consumption over time, as well as happier guests.

And like high-speed WiFi, many of your guests already have smart home automation at home and may well expect it in their STR. According to an article in, certain demographic groups are willing to pay a premium for smart home features in their vacation rentals.
The most popular of these features include:

  • Smart Locks

  • Smart Thermostat

  • Smart Lighting

  • Virtual Assistant

  • Video Doorbell

  • Noise Detecting Devices


Because sometimes we need to get off our screens! These simple and inexpensive extras are particularly useful on inclement-weather days.

Game Consoles

A lot of guests specifically look for STRs that offer an XBox, PlayStation, or Nintendo and may well choose one property over another simply because the game systems are offered.


It’s a huge bonus for many parents when STR properties supply items such as Pack n Plays, high chairs, strollers, and baby gates. Extra points go to those owners who take it a step further and provide electrical outlet covers and baby cabinet locks.


According to a survey conducted by the National Pet Owners Survey, 70% of families in the US own a pet. That’s 90.5 million families. Most of those families include their pet as a beloved member of the family and insist on bringing them along on vacation. This is especially true of long-term, WFH guests. It’s a lovely touch to not just allow pets, but welcome them with beds, bowls, waste bags, and a small assortment of welcome treats.


What’s cozier and/or more romantic than a fire on a cold evening?

Pool/Hot Tub

While these may not be feasible for all STRs, they are great selling points for potential guests.

Washer and Dryer

Because nobody wants to spend even an hour in a laundromat on vacation. This is particularly crucial if you plan on accepting long-term guests.
Amenities in STRs reflect, in large measure, the conveniences we find in our day-to-day homes.  Trends will continue to evolve as travelers' needs and wants change. But there is a certain wisdom in the adage “the customer is always right”.  When it comes to STRs everyone, owners and travelers want the experience to be a good one.
The other transformation that has affected the success of a short-term rental is related to a much more elusive concept – design.
We will take a deeper dive into design trends in part III of this series.

Mike Harrington is the CEO & Owner of Carolina Retreats, a specialty lodging and vacation rental management firm serving more than 300 vacation property owners throughout the Cape Fear region. Before founding Carolina Retreats in 2015, Mike spent 10 years on the Outer Banks as CEO and General Manager of Resort Realty, a high end real estate sales and vacation rental company with 600 properties under management, five offices, and more than 100 full-time employees and real estate agents. Mike is a Past-President and Board Member of the Vacation Rental Manager's Association (VRMA), the largest international trade association for the vacation rental industry, as well as Past-President for the North Carolina Vacation Rental Manager's Association (NCVRMA). He is frequently asked to speak at seminars and trade conferences on the latest vacation rental management trends in marketing, operations, and strategy. Mike holds a MBA from East Carolina University, as well as a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management and serves as an Advisory Board member for East Carolina's School of Hospitality Leadership. 

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