Global events in recent years have changed our attitudes towards travel and the way we consume. While resort tourism was once the norm, these times have taught us the beauty of slowing down and reconnecting with nature.
The rise in sustainable vacation rentals can be seen across the global tourism industry today. From globetrotters yearning for off-grid eco-friendly accommodation, to vacation rental property managers investing in energy-saving technology, there has been a significant shift in mindset.
As demand for properties adapted to the norms of sustainable vacation rentals grows and travelers become more environmentally conscious, property managers are finding new ways for their properties to exceed the expectations of their clients. Whether that means taking actionable steps towards improvement or advising property owners on the best way to go green, every effort counts.
Here we’ll go over seven ways that you can create eco-friendly vacation rentals to both protect the planet and increase the profitability of your business.
Balancing Sustainability & Profitability
Before we get into the action, let’s clear up a common misconception. Sustainability and profitability are not mutually exclusive.
What many property owners and professional property managers don’t know is that sustainability and vacation rental profitability go hand in hand. Although the main motive for switching to sustainable responsible tourism should be to counteract the escalating climate change, businesses should also be aware of the role that these changes play in increasing their bookings and cutting down on energy costs.
The money and effort invested into sustainable vacation rentals can help your business grow by attracting conscious travelers and meeting their needs. Through powerful social media marketing and keyword usage, you can adapt your direct booking strategies and boost profitability over time.
1. Use energy-efficient appliances
One of the best ways to go green is to invest in energy-saving lighting, appliances, and systems. Use LED light bulbs, consider installing a solar power system, and systematically choose larger appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, heaters, washing machines, and dishwashers with low energy usage.
If you’re managing vacation rentals with older appliances, when it’s time to replace them choose energy efficient models. These switches can drastically cut down on utility fees and greenhouse gas emissions. When buying new appliances, look for ENERGY STAR certified products that are known to use less energy than standard appliances.
Remember to include clear and concise device instructions for your guests. For example, a washing machine might have a specific eco-setting that requires less water consumption, but if your guests are unaware of it, it’s very unlikely that they’ll use it. To avoid this, include instructions in a digital welcome book or a check-in email to encourage visitors to make sustainable decisions.
Pro tip: if you’re looking to go all-in, consider hiring a professional energy auditor to pinpoint inefficiencies within the rental.
2. Invest in smart home technology
Smart home technology allows rental managers to remotely monitor and control the energy usage in a property, all from the comfort of their personal devices. Its benefits include being able to customize appliances for maximum efficiency, protecting your home from damage, and reducing energy bills.
Considering all of the perks that come with this technology, paying a higher price upfront is definitely worth it. Your investment will lead to improved efficiency and you’ll eventually save more than you spent.
Smart cooling and heating systems
With smart thermostats, property managers can adjust their cooling or heating settings with ease. Instead of leaving it to guests to manage this chunk of energy consumption, your thermostat can analyze energy usage patterns and optimize them consistently.
Smart thermostats are also a wonderful way to surprise guests. Here’s an example: let’s say it’s winter and your clients have just spent an hour on public transportation. By the time they arrive at the property, they are shivering cold. Thanks to smart technology, you can program your thermostat to start warming the rental before their arrival so by the time they step foot through the door, they are welcomed into a cozy haven.
Avantio integrates with tools like Operto and Ecosensor to help monitor occupancy as well—when there isn’t anyone in the property, you can automatically shut off heat or cooling until the afternoon.
Particularly since the pandemic, incorporating self-check-in for vacation rentals has been a must. Aside from being safer and more convenient for guests and property managers, smart locks also minimize the number of car journeys you have to make to let guests into the rental.
As reported by the EPA, “Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation account for about 29% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest contributor of U.S. GHG emissions”. A whopping 58% of these emissions come from light-duty vehicles, meaning that even the smallest adjustments (like using smart locks for self-check-in) are helpful for the environment.
How often do guests leave the lights on while they’re out exploring the city? A smart lighting system detects when someone is in the room and adjusts the lights accordingly.
Smart light bulbs have a positive impact on your wallet as well as the environment. According to ENERGY STAR, their certified smart bulbs “use 90% less energy than traditional incandescent light bulbs and have 15 times the life expectancy than that of incandescent bulbs.”
Some systems regulate their brightness depending on the time of day and sunlight availability. This is particularly useful in cities or countries that receive a lot of sunlight year-round as it can considerably affect energy efficiency.
The variety of smart technologies is endless. From smart solar panels to irrigation systems, it’s worth spending some time doing research and finding what additions your properties could benefit most from.
3. Offer recycling options for guests and give clear instructions
The EPA states that recycling “reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators, conserves natural resources, and prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials.” However, according to Blake Morgan from Forbes, many Americans don’t recycle as much as they could because it’s confusing and inconvenient.
Because recycling programs vary throughout the country, many people feel uninformed when it’s time to sort out their waste, especially if they’re on vacation. This presents an opportunity for professional property managers to:
- Offer recycling options if they aren’t already
- Provide clear instructions with labeled bins
Along with recycling, you can also start a composting pile in the garden and turn it into a learning experience for children. Not only will this inspire your environmentally conscious guests but it’ll also lead to nutrient-rich soil that can be used for fertilizing a garden.
4. Provide sustainable transport & activities
Depending on your location, you can offer various sustainable transportation options and activities. These can include bicycles or electric scooters for getting around town, kayaks for lakeside or oceanfront rentals, routes for hiking trails, and a list of attractions, shops, and restaurants that are within walking distance of the property.
To go the extra mile, provide sustainable responsible tourism supplies that guests can take with them on their outings such as recyclable trash bags and reusable water bottles.
What’s more, if you’re managing a luxury vacation rental, these additions are an effective way of elevating the overall guest experience and adding a special touch to the property.
5. Use locally sourced supplies
Opting for locally sourced supplies allows you to cut down on shipping and transportation costs while also reducing your carbon footprint.
Instead of traveling out of town or ordering supplies online, research nearby providers and businesses to help support local communities. And better yet, always look for reusable alternatives such as kitchen towels instead of kitchen rolls and tote bags instead of plastic shopping bags.
If your rental provides basic household items, cleaning products, and toiletries, be sure to let guests know in advance so that they don’t buy single-use supplies for their green getaway. Encourage the use of eco-friendly goods and inspire guests to continue these practices in their daily lives.
6. Reconsider your interior design
While many of the properties you manage may already be fully furnished, it’s worth sitting down with homeowners to discuss future renovations and decorative additions. As mentioned before, try to source all materials locally and minimize your impact on the environment by using sustainable materials like:
- Reclaimed wood
- Recycled glass
When furnishing a rental or replacing broken furniture, look for recycled or vintage pieces rather than heading to mass-producing conglomerates. During the decorating process, you can make small but meaningful changes by using real plants instead of plastic ones and avoiding disposable designs.
When investing in bedding, curtains, or carpets, go for eco-friendly textiles that require fewer chemical treatments. These include:
- Soy silk
- Organic cotton
7. Start a garden
Managing properties with substantial outdoor space? Speak to homeowners and suggest starting a garden to reduce your carbon footprint.
Aside from naturally cleaning the air, replenishing the soil, and saving energy on grocery rounds, having a garden with vegetables and fruits is a sure way to impress guests. Depending on where you’re located, some of the easiest foods to cultivate are:
- Blackberries and raspberries
Surrounding a property with trees and shrubs also cuts down on cooling costs in the summer as nature efficiently blocks the sun from heating up a home.
The most important thing to remember is that sustainable vacation rentals aren’t just a trend—they’re a new way of life and here to stay. That said, we hope that these seven ideas will motivate you to make positive changes within your vacation rental business, whether big or small!
Looking for ways to make your business even more efficient and energy-saving? Discover our vacation rental software ecosystem today.