How We Started a Successful Vacation Rental Business and You Can Too

Five years ago, right after our wedding, my husband and I began our journey into the vacation rental industry. We had decided that we wanted to build or buy a retirement home in Costa Rica and that on the meantime, we would rent it out so it could pay for itself.

We were in our late twenties so talking about a retirement home or even about acquiring a second home was a little bit out there. However, we had a plan and we knew we could make it work.

Our scouting adventure tooks us literally all over the Pacific Coast all the way from Northern Guanacaste into the Southern-most beach in Costa Rica, near Pavones, a small town that’s famous only amongst surfers.

To outsiders, our adventure probably looked a bit erratic and crazy, but we had a very pragmatic approach. Before we visited any location we had

  1. Confirmed that property values were “cheap”
  2. Confirmed that the vacation rental market had potential and was not saturated

It took a lot of research. We spent weeks or months scouting through both real estate listings as well as Airbnb and Vrbo listings to truly understand the markets, the amenities that rent, the most popular property sizes, and what we could realistically expect to yield.

Ultimately we settled for a great piece of land in Uvita, a small town in the Southern Pacific Coast of Uvita, which still maintains a lot of the quaintness of a small Costa Rican town, and is surrounded by rainforest and beautiful beaches. All of which are mostly protected by the National Park System.

Our research said our best option was a two bedroom property with a pool and a view. We designed a house that was cost-effective but unique. Practical and almost undestructive, but with unique touches to help our guests (mostly eco-tourists, adventurous families, and bird watchers) feel like they were surrounded by nothing by rainforest.

Our research paid off. Our property is consistently booked 75-80% of the time in a market in which the average is closer to 40%. While to some this looked like we were lucky, we knew that it was all about our research. We had created a repetitive process that allowed us to truly understand a market and our competition to maximize our property’s potential.

After conducting the same type of analysis multiple times, including for friends and family, the idea for Hostology was born: a platform that is easy to use, provides market and competitor insights at a glance, and that could help anyone achieve what we had been able to.

The most common questions I see in all the Airbnb and Short Term Rental groups are mainly driven by a lack of understanding of the local market and competition. “Is my Airbnb priced too high?” “Should I increase my cleaning fee?”, “How much should I charge for my property?” I’m hoping that Hostology can help these hosts get a better understanding of their local landscape so they can maximize their property’s performance.

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