Every vacation rental is unique. That’s why travelers and guests love them.

Hotels can optimize their rooms because every room is identical. You can have an entire building full of beds the same distance from the wall, lit by bedside lamps with the same wattage bulb, covered by linens that are bought in packs of 1,000 apiece.

But a vacation rental is different. Each room is a different size and has different assets to take advantage of, and way. Individuality is one of the best features of a vacation rental. Which is why it may be a little surprising that we’re going to talk about the 4 things that need to be the same for everyone.

There are, however, certain qualities every traveler is looking for when they stay at a vacation rental.

If the property doesn’t live up to these four critical standards, guests aren’t happy. Their reviews of the property will reflect their displeasure. These are the four essential standards every vacation rental needs to meet – along with suggestions for how to make sure they’re in fine form for every guest.

Vacation Rentals Must Be Safe

Guests may not notice when a rental is safe, but they notice when one isn’t. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher available when there’s a small grease fire in the kitchen, or your walkway keeps turning your guest’s ankle in the dark, it can cause real problems. We put this first and foremost because it’s not just a guest’s expectation: it can cause real liability issues for you as an owner if your property isn’t safe for occupancy.

Naturally, you should have excellent vacation rental liability coverage, but if you fail to keep up with safety regulations, your claim can be denied because of negligence.

Guests will also appreciate feeling secure and safe in a vacation property. If the back door doesn’t lock securely, they’re going to spend their vacation worrying about it – and that’s not the experience you want to provide them. To keep your property safe, make sure all your doors and windows have working locks and that fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are up to code and the batteries changed regularly. Provide easy-to-use fire extinguishers in the kitchen and near any heat source, and keep first-aid kits in all the bathrooms.

Make sure you pay attention to basic safety standards. Walkways and stairs should be easy to navigate, and outdoor trees and bushes should be trimmed in accordance with safety standards.

Vacation Rentals Must Be Clean

Of course, a vacation rental ought to be clean! And yet as obvious as it sounds, it’s one of the easiest things to get wrong. Most guest complaints are about the cleanliness of the vacation rental. While we’ll go ahead and assume no owner believes a guest is fine with an unclean property, there’s a reason why this complaint crops up again and again: getting just one task wrong ruins the entire experience. For example, your cleaning service might do a wonderful job cleaning your property 100 times in a row – but on that last time, they accidentally leave behind a sink full of dirty water without draining it. Even if the rest of the property is spotless, that guest is leaving a cleanliness complaint.

To guard against human error, recommend conducting a pre-stay walkthrough before every guest arrives. A quick 10-minute walkthrough will quickly reveal any cleaning issues before a guest arrives, and there is plenty of time to resolve the problem before it affects your guest’s experience.

Vacation Rentals Must Be Guest-Ready

If the guests can’t access the property when they arrive, they’re having a poor experience before they’ve even walked through the front door! Ensuring the vacation rental is guest-ready simply means double-checking to be sure everything works just as it should for guests. Be sure to check that all the light switches and appliances are working correctly, that the electronics are functioning, and that there is a stocked kitchen and bathrooms. Scheduling regular property maintenance will help, but strange problems do crop up from time to time, so it’s best to check before a guest’s arrival.

A pre-stay walkthrough is the best way to ensure the property is guest-ready before the guests arrive. Take the time to add a little welcome touch for guests, such as turning a few interior lights or leaving a welcome note. These gestures count!

Vacation Rentals Must Be as Advertised

Guests are often thrown by a property that doesn’t look the same as it did in the photos – even if the improvement is for the better. There have been confused comments on many properties saying “The decor was completely different” or “We weren’t sure we arrived at the right house because the entry was yellow, not blue.” If the difference in the advertisement and the real deal is negative, the comments go from confused to angry. “The listing said there was AC, but there’s only one window unit in the living room.” “The photos show a dining table that seats eight, but when we arrived, there were only four chairs. Where are the rest of us supposed to sit?”

It is essential to guests that what they thought they were getting matches up with what they received. And it’s easy enough to provide this for them: keep photos and property descriptions current, and notify any guests who booked before a decor makeover about the changes before arrival. Match staging to the listing photos. For example, if the living room drapes are open in the photos, open them for the guest’s arrival. If the dining room table is staged with plates and flatware, do so for the guest. It’s a small thing, but it helps create a sense of satisfaction for the guest: this property is just the way I imagined it.

Having a safeguard against issues and bad reviews may cost a little upfront, but in the long run, it will protect the reputation, the reviews, and the business.