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Vacation Rental Owner in the Outer Banks? Here are Tips to Stand Out in a Highly Competitive Destination


As Outer Banks property managers, we know just how crucial it is to monitor industry trends. Keeping an eye on market data empowers rental owners to make better decisions and attract more bookings.

There are quite a few solutions for global insights available, and they can provide you with some useful information on things like pricing trends, demand fluctuations, and a myriad of other factors that affect your business.

If you’re interested in those, we suggest you take a look at the industry leaders: AirDNA, Beyond Pricing, Hostfully, and AllTheRooms Analytics.

Based on the data these platforms gather, our short-term rental market was valued at a whopping $115 billion in 2020, and this figure is expected to increase by a few more billion in the years to come, with an annual growth rate of 6.9%.

It’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed by the vast amount of information out there regarding the industry as a whole, but we must remember that we actually operate in the vacation beach home segment of the industry, and precisely on Outer Banks, NC.

These details matter for reading the relevant market insights. After all, a lot of the data and information out there doesn’t apply to us.

Outer Banks rental industry trends that (really) matter

What about trying something new and diving into some recent info that really applies to our region and segment?

Let’s dive into it.

  • Size does play a role. Research tells us that those who choose vacation rentals over hotels are looking for more space and privacy. The average hotel room is only about 325 square feet, while some of our beach houses can span over 1,300 square feet. That’s all the privacy you need!
  • Your guests are aspiring master chefs. A nice kitchen is another reason why people choose vacation rentals. Studies show that roughly 60% of short-term renters really evaluate the kitchen before making a call. In the Outer Banks, they want a suitable space to cook and dine with friends and family — good thing our homes have fantastic kitchens!
  • Mother nature’s escape. Nature destinations are growing more popular by the day. That’s our niche! The Outer Banks boasts plenty of natural attractions and wildlife, making it the perfect destination for families seeking a break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
  • Modern hospitality. Gone are the days of easily satisfied guests. Today, travelers have higher expectations. It’s essential to understand the needs and preferences of modern travelers, not only Millennials but also Generation Z, who are often more financially conscious and environmentally aware than other generations.
  • Where’s hot right now in OBX? Every property manager in the Outer Banks knows that oceanfront properties are always winners. Still, to be more specific, substantial growth and construction are taking place on the Northern Beaches of Corolla, NC, while renovations and upgrades are giving a significant boost to homes in Nags Head, NC.


In the OBX, revenues are returning to normal but competition is high

After the strange few years that we just went through, rental demand in the OBX is returning to normality, which means things are looking a lot more like we were used to before the pandemic.

This also means that this is the time to refocus on making your beach rental stand out and attract both first-timers and recurrent guests.

This last piece of advice is largely due to an increase in competition. In short-term rentals as a whole, there’s an increase in inventory.

This is really the time to double your efforts not only on outstanding decor but also amenities and on consistently delivering a great experience to your guests — more on all that later.

There are several significant aspects to consider. However, before we explore those aspects further, let’s gain a deeper understanding of something…

Why do people look for private vacation homes in the Outer Banks?

Vacation rentals near nature have gained immense popularity among travelers seeking unique experiences. The Outer Banks in North Carolina is renowned for its enchanting beach, quiet seaside allure, plenty of water sports, and historical exploration.

Whether rentals are nestled steps away from the beach, come with a private boat slip, or are within a golf community, they cater to a wide range of preferences and desires.

Our beach houses evoke the dream vacation getaway, inspiring fantasies of stunning ocean views and the allure of pristine shores. Whether it’s a cozy bungalow or a grand beachfront estate that accommodates twenty guests, the modern vacationer seeks a memorable experience.

Give your rental a modern, Instagram-worthy decor

While scenic sea views and pristine white sands are certainly appealing, your interior decor is an important selling point.

Beach vacationers crave that coastal-nautical charm that homes in OBX are famous for, so it’s always a good idea to keep the interiors aligned with that dream. As we’ve previously mentioned, incorporating updates into your beachfront property will elevate the overall guest experience and increase its appeal.

Guest preferences can vary depending on the size and location of the home. For instance, a spacious 12-bedroom oceanfront luxury home should offer upscale amenities and understated coastal elegance, while a 3-bedroom soundfront beach house may be best suited with more prominent nautical decor.

When designing your beach rental, there are several key factors to consider. Here are some of them:

Furniture mix

To create a modern environment, choose furniture without excessive embellishments or ornaments, and pick the ones that are aligned with a specific style. For example, opt for sofas and armchairs with slim legs and textured, solid-colored, or subtly patterned fabrics. These choices will certainly introduce an element of airiness to the decor.

Sleek furniture composition of Stairway To Heaven.

Backyard at the OBX One, guests love a touch of luxury!

Work on storytelling

Local craftsmanship and historical pieces undoubtedly infuse character and charm into any living space. The Outer Banks stands out as one of the most culturally distinctive areas on the East Coast. Including pieces that tell these stories in your decor can be a real hit with guests.

It’s an excellent idea to incorporate art crafted by local artisans, showcasing the region’s scenery and culture. This not only helps you narrate an interesting story through your space but also evokes an emotional response from your guests.

Here are some tips: paintings depicting the Wright Brothers National Memorial, piers, lighthouses, boats, and wildlife will seamlessly blend in and enhance the ambiance.


Use natural & artificial light wisely

Finding the right mix of natural and artificial lighting is crucial to making your home look and feel great. Natural light is fantastic, but sometimes, in beach houses with not a lot of shade around, it can get a bit intense.

In those situations, curtains and blinds are your buddies — they help dial down the light and give you some privacy. Also, make sure you sprinkle some soft, indirect lighting throughout the rental using table and floor lamps.

Here’s a neat extra tip: consider adding sculptural light fixtures to enhance your decor. Lamps shaped like shells, anchors, fish, and even driftwood can bring a sculptural and playful touch.


Don’t forget the outdoors

Why rent a beach house if you’re planning to spend all your time inside, huh? Guests want to soak up the outdoors as much as they can, so make the most of your sun deck and porch to boost the appeal of your rental.

Your outdoor areas should mirror the same style as indoors, a nice place to hang out with a hint of personality. In simple terms, your backyard counts — especially when it overlooks the majestic Atlantic Ocean.

Add some impressive amenities and keep guests coming back

In our competitive niche, it’s essential to stand out from the crowd, and relying solely on decor won’t cut it. That’s why it’s crucial to create the ultimate beach retreat by offering extra amenities that truly deliver that ‘wow’ factor.

Investing in top-notch amenities can significantly boost your bookings and revenue. Of course, having a hot tub is a given, but above all, many travelers are on the lookout for a private pool – this is  always a big plus.

To simplify things, we like to tailor the amenities to the size of the rental.

Here’s the breakdown:

For smaller places with fewer than five rooms, hot tubs are the minimum requirement. You can also consider entertainment features like a multicade machine or a pool table, and if you want to take it up a notch, think about adding air hockey, foosball, and shuffleboards.

Now, as things get bigger, the fun factor increases. With larger homes boasting over five bedrooms, guests start to appreciate game rooms and media rooms.

It’s all about scaling up your amenities as the property size increases – that’s how it works.

Here’s a bonus tip: right after a pool, many people are searching for pet-friendly places. They want to bring their furry companions along, so keep that in mind as well.

Private pool at Beach Par Tee.


Boost guest experience with tech

The modern traveler looking for beach rentals is practically glued to their tech.

For entertainment, most guests these days expect a Smart TV or a Roku player, which lets them use their own streaming accounts. These gadgets are not only more convenient for them but also more cost-effective for you: they mean no more paying for cable like in the old days.

After COVID, things are growing increasingly contactless, so smart locks and digital guidebooks are the way to go. In the latter, include clear instructions on how to use the appliances, answer FAQs, and throw in some coupons and tips for attractions around the area.

A cool tech extra to consider is EV chargers — remember, GenZers love being eco-friendly.

Tech also plays a big role in boosting communication. From the beginning to the end of a guest’s stay, try to respond within five minutes, no matter what time it is. It’ll make your guests happy and boost your ratings, leading to more bookings. But be careful not to go all-in like a full AI chatbot on them, okay?

Know your niche, spruce up your rental & make more money

Yep, times have changed, and they’ll keep changing, so staying up to date with the market will ensure you’re always in the know. Here’s a word of advice: understand your niche and adapt where possible, before your competitors beat you to it.

Professional property managers like Village Realty are a great help in keeping up with the times. Our team of owner relations is always ready to discuss the best ways to spruce up your vacation rental, and we have endless tips to help you make more money.

To get a sense of our positive impact, try out our projection estimates on our website. For more insights on how to continually improve your rental game, stay tuned. There are more helpful blogs coming real soon.