5 Family-Friendly Activities to Do on Your Topsail Island Vacation

Do you have a family vacation planned this summer in one of our Topsail Island vacation rentals? If so then we can point you in the right direction on what there is to do in the area that are family-friendly. We understand that sometimes finding things for kids of all ages can be a little challenging but we have a few family favorites for you below. Let’s look at what there is for you and the family to enjoy together while on your vacation.

Visit Southside Park

Want to spend a day at a local park for you and the kids to enjoy? Head over to Southside Park where you can pack a lunch and a book for you to read while the kids play on the playground. The playground has slides, swings and a climbing area for them to get some of their energy out. Or you could take a walk along the boardwalk that boarders the sound or watch the sunset before heading back to your vacation rental. If you want to take some fun family pictures this is a great place to go to. The park does overlook the Intracoastal Waterway and is beautiful.

Rent a Kayak

What a better way to see the Intracoastal Waterway then to rent a kayak for a few hours and enjoy. The Intracoastal Waterway offers a calm location for you to kayak, canoe or just to enjoy what nature offers you. What a great way to spend the day with your kids and enjoy the beauty of the island on water. If you have younger kids, this might not be a good option but for the older kids this would be a great adventure for them.

The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center

Topsail Island is known as a nesting grounds for the endangered Loggerhead sea turtle. Visiting the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center rescues, treats and releases turtles that have been hurt. This is a good educational visit to this center where your family will learn all about the turtles. You will learn about what is involved in saving the life of a turtle and about their nesting habits. There happens to be a small gift shop that all the proceeds will go into helping the turtles. Your kids might even get an opportunity to ask questions and maybe feed some of the creatures there at the center.

Nelva R. Albury Recreation Area

Want another fun place to take the kids if you feel they need to get their energy out? Then check out the Nelva R. Albury Recreation Area located across the street from a beach access on Topsail Island. This park has something for everyone in the family to enjoy. Let the kids play on the playground while you take advantage of the free exercise equipment. This playground has a firetruck climber, slides, swings and a large gazebo where you can enjoy lunch or dinner with the family there. What a great way to spend an evening or late morning at with the family.

Beach It

The number one place that you can enjoy is the beach. This is of course why you decided to come to Topsail Island for vacation. While Topsail Beach is smallest of the 3 beaches on Topsail Island, it’s located at the tip of the island. Depending on where your Topsail Island vacation rental you can have a step outside the door of your rental and stroll along the beach. Collect seashells, look for shark teeth or just enjoy the day at the beach. Even fly a kite in the evening with the kids and get your run in first thing in the morning. But keep an eye out for sea turtle nests and leave them alone while you play in the sand. Just enjoy the surf and the sand for a few days with the family.

There are several other things for you to do while you are visiting Topsail Island but these are just a few that we thought you’d enjoy. If you are still looking for a last-minute week to visit the area before school begins, then check out what availabilities we have. We can’t wait to see you this summer for you to make new memories for years to come.

 

Four Easy Ways to Have Your Vacation Rental Guests Return

Pleasing your guests and offering more than the competition doesn’t take a whole lot of time or money. Far too many companies only focus on the bottom line. The personal touch makes a big impression on guests. Moving the personal touch up the priority list and making more of an effort to make sure their every stay is a great one, will set you ahead of the pack.
 
Topsail-Island-Sunset
Here are some tips on how you can help your guests have a thrilling time with you and have them coming back for years to come.
 

1. Try to Think Like a Guest

If you were going to stay in your house, what type of experience would you want? What amenities would matter most? What information could you provide about the local area to make a guest’s stay easier? How close is the nearest grocery store?

 

2. Don’t Make Your Guests Guess

Don’t assume that the guest knows everything they want to do, where they want to eat, or how to get a hold of you, etc. Providing this information in printed form is a great idea. It’s also a good idea to have all of the contact information they might need accessible in case of an emergency.

 

3. Add a Personal Touch

One of the easiest things you can do to make a positive difference is to add a personal touch to your vacation rental. Leave a handwritten note for your guests, thanking them for their stay. Another idea is to leave them some fresh flowers, wine or a box of chocolates. It doesn’t take much money or time to make a big difference!

 

4. Stay Connected

Keep in touch with your guests afterwards and make sure that they know about events and attractions in your area. In this age of social media it’s easier than ever to stay in touch. Reward your previous guest’s loyalty with discounts, extras, and special deals or savings.

 

The most important aspect of any business is to put your customer first. Proactively anticipate their needs and do whatever you can to let them know they are a priority. Everyone likes to feel like they’re important, so if you treat your guests like royalty, they will return again and again.

 

 

8 Tips to Help Prepare Your Vacation Rental for Summer Guests

With the summer months about to arrive, things are going to get extra busy for homeowners who rent their properties out around Topsail. Those with multi-bedroom homes will likely be renting to larger groups which can mean bigger bucks but also more work.

The following eight tips will help you prepare your home for the influx of summer vacationers to ensure they have the best rental experience ever.

1. Plenty of Bedding
Have all bedrooms well stocked with quality, ample bedding. Include at least two sets of pillows per bed, mattress pads and high-quality sheets. Keep extra blankets in the closet so that your renters won’t have to forage for bedding.

8 Tips to Help Prepare Your Vacation Rental for Summer Guests
2. Deep Clean
Whenever you have new renters coming in, always hire a cleaning crew to give the house a deep clean, which includes making the bathrooms spotless, washing all the linens, wiping down the fridge, and so forth. It’s important to clean your home every time renters leave, in order to make it super clean and ready for the next guests to arrive.

3. People Love Extras
Who doesn’t forget at least a few things when traveling? Please your guests by supplying a few of those most often forgotten items — be it a toothbrush, shaving cream, or shampoo. Outfit all of the bathrooms with toiletries to make your guest’s stay more comfortable. Go the extra distance to take care of your guests beforehand, and they will be more likely to leave you a stellar review afterwards as well as return in the future.

8 Tips to Help Prepare Your Vacation Rental for Summer Guests
4. Pool and Hot Tubs
If your vacation rental has a pool or hot tub, make sure that it is fully operational for your guests. These are some of the most popular features that attract renters to a home, and nothing will dampen their spirits more than a broken tub or a pool without heat.

5. Entertainment
Despite the fact that your vacation rental guests will most likely be spending much of their time at the beach, there will be periods of downtime where they are relaxing in the house and may seek ways to entertain themselves. Leave some board games or a deck of cards in the living room that they can help themselves to.

8 Tips to Help Prepare Your Vacation Rental for Summer Guests
6. Internet and Cable
If you don’t offer Internet and cable it will severely impact your ability to keep your property rented. Make sure the internet access and cable are both up and running so that your guests won’t run into any issues while staying at your house.

7. Adequate Lighting
Do a once around your rental to be sure all the lights inside and outside the home are working. Replace broken bulbs and aim for softer lighting. For yards, add inviting outdoor lighting so that guests feel safe and comfortable spending time outside.

8 Tips to Help Prepare Your Vacation Rental for Summer Guests
8. Safety Matters
It’s wise to have a first-aid kit available on site. Also leave a list of emergency numbers on the kitchen counter, a printed sheet of what to do in case of a hurricane, and a working fire extinguisher on hand. Adding a functional flashlight in a kitchen drawer isn’t a bad idea either.

Follow these 8 tips and you’ll have happy guests who will return year after year while giving you rave reviews!

Which Vacation Rental Amenity Matters the Most?

While today’s vacation rentals are well above competing with hotels, they are very much in competition with other vacation rental homes in the area. The more amenities your property has the better the experience for the traveler and the more repeat guests you will have.
 
It’s important to know which amenities matter the most to your vacationers to ensure returning visitors and to maximize profit.
 
When Tripping.com did a survey asking what vacation rental amenities matter the most to U.S. consumers, at the top of the list was Internet/Wifi with 38 percent of consumers listing it as their number one most amenity.
 
Top-Amenity-at-Topsail-Realty
 
In this day and age it’s important for guests to stay connected to the internet while away. The internet is critical to find local restaurants, plan a trip, do business as well as to stay in touch with those back home. The internet is a must-have for most travelers.
 
When comparing vacation rentals to hotels, some luxury hotels still do not offer this most valued amenity free of charge. Hotel guests paying up to $500 dollars and above a night for a room still have to pay an extra fee to use the Internet/Wifi during their stay. When you compare that to vacation rentals, a majority of properties offer Internet/Wifi included in the price.
 
 

The Difference Between Vacation Rental vs Investment Property

If this New Year has your focus on investing in real estate it’s important to know the differences between a vacation rental and an investment property as what it means to own one.
 
The Difference Between Vacation Rentals vs. Investment Property

What is a vacation rental?

The term vacation rental is used to describe a privately owned furnished home, apartment or condominium that is rented out for short periods of time. Typically a vacation rental is for rent on a weekly or during off-season on a monthly basis.
 
Families and other vacationers often use vacation rentals as an alternative to hotels to get larger accommodations offering better amenities. Vacation rentals are rising in popularity because of their ability to offer more space and more privacy at a cheaper price than a typical hotel room.
 
It’s becoming increasingly popular for people with properties in vacation spots to rent them out for periods of peak vacation times such as spring break, the summer months or winter holidays. The appeal of additional income from a place you already consider home, is attractive to many.
 
If you have a property you’re considering turning into a vacation rental it’s important to have your home ready with everything a vacationing family would need. Read our other blog posts such as “Vacation Home Interior & Exterior Checklists”, “4 Surefire Ways to Make Your Vacation Rentals Stand Out Online,” and “Well-Stocked Vacation Rentals Get Far Better Reviews.”
 
Lots of photographs, well written descriptions, and awesome reviews are all very important in keeping a vacation rental occupied 100% of the time you have it available.
 
The Difference Between Vacation Rentals vs. Investment Property

What is investment property

Investment property is a house, apartment, or condominium that you’ve purchased for profit gain. It could be a property that you purchase, rehab and then re-sell for a profit or it could be a property you purchase with intentions of renting it out.
 
Regarding tax purposes, if the owner’s time spent in the second property is limited to 14 or fewer days or 10 percent of the time it’s rented out to other people, it’s considered a full-time rental or investment property, where the ultimate goal is to generate income.
 

Vacation Rental vs. Investment Property

With an investment property the goal of owning the property is purely to use to make money full time without ever living in it themselves. With a vacation rental, it’s a property that is usually a vacation home or second home that the owner can rent out short term to vacationers when the owner is not using the property.
 
We hope we’ve clarified the differences between a vacation rental and an investment property. You might just be surprised to discover you already own a vacation rental that you just happen to call “home.”

 

How to Appeal to the Eco-Friendly Vacationer

How to Appeal to the Eco-Friendly Vacationer
Environmentally friendly or eco-friendly are sustainability terms referring to goods and services that claim reduced, minimal, or no harm done to ecosystems or the environment. In recent years, terms like “going green” and “eco-friendly” are words you hear a lot on talk shows, commercials and product packaging. So it comes as no surprise that a good number of your potential vacationers care about the environment. Taking the initiative to market your vacation rentals to them will pay out big rewards.

How to Appeal to the Eco-Friendly Vacationer
Travelers who live green are looking for eco-friendly options even when choosing vacation spots. In this day and age, more and more vacationers expect eco-friendly features in a vacation rental. In a recent survey a huge 42% of respondents saying they hoped to stay in an energy-efficient home while on vacation. Recycling is also a big draw with 52% of respondents wanting to see recycling as an option.

How to Appeal to the Eco-Friendly Vacationer
“Effortless recycling and integrated bins always make the grade for eco-friendly homes,” says design expert Kerrie Kelly, who writes for The Home Depot. “Water filtration systems, full-sized beauty/cleaning products (as opposed to the smaller, wasteful travel sizes), and Energy Star appliances also help vacationers feel that they are helping the environment.”

How to Appeal to the Eco-Friendly Vacationer
Additional eco-friendly must-haves among today’s vacationing families include overall energy efficient heating, cooling, appliances, and green cleaning supplies for the household and laundry. Many will also sit up and take notice if your vacation rental home was constructed using eco-friendly building materials.

As people overall become more cognizant of their day-to-day energy and water conservation, we will see an increased demand for environmentally-friendly vacation rentals. It’s pretty safe to say when you put a vacation rental that is focused on environmentally friendly building materials and features next to one that is not, the eco-friendly home will win out every time.
 
 

When It Comes To Vacation Homes, Technology Matters A Lot

While not all travelers completely unplug on vacation, respondents to a recent survey say they browse the web and check email less frequently (62%) while on vacation and more than half (54%) would not give up their cell phone for a week in exchange for an extra week of vacation! Their needs go far beyond a strong Wi-Fi connection though.
 
When it Comes to Vacation Homes, Technology Matters a Lot
Jen O’Neal from Tripping.com had this to say about technology in vacation homes — “Wi-Fi is a necessity! Considering how many people need to work while traveling, or even just want to share their latest vacation photos to friends and family at home, Wi-Fi is definitely a key amenity for vacation rentals to offer.”
 

How Much Tech is Enough?

So how do you know just how much tech your vacation rental needs? When it comes to expectations, Wi-Fi is a major must-have item, followed closely by cable TV and HDTV, say vacationers. They’re looking for these features in every room, too, not just the living room.
 
When it Comes to Vacation Homes, Technology Matters a Lot

How to Smarten Up Your Home

More than a quarter of vacationers specifically seek out smart home features. The top requests are a smart security system or entry (door locks/video doorbells/garage opener) and a smart TV or electronics. One in four male Millennials planning a vacation expect a smart TV in their vacation rental!
 
Millennials are slightly less open to “unplugging” than other generations and they won’t compromise when it comes to music. Out of those surveyed 64% say they listen to music the same or more frequently on vacation versus the average vacation renter (47%).
 

About Tech Device Installs

The key to installing tech devices in a vacation home is to keep it simple, says technology expert Jennifer Tuohy, who writes about home tech for Home Depot. “Guests don’t need to be downloading apps just to turn the lights on,” she says. “The best tech for making guests happy in a vacation home are devices that are simple to use, or those that work autonomously.” She recommends the following top five tech picks:
 

Recommended Tech Additions

1. Smart Locks. A keypad-enabled lock or a smart door lock is the perfect solution to a vacationer arriving only to discover they don’t have the right (or any) key!

2. Smart Lighting. Walking into a home and having the lights come on automatically is a really nice way to begin a vacation. Smart lighting paired with a smart door lock will make this happen as if by magic: When the door unlocks, the lights come on.

3. Smart TV. A Smart TV with internet connection and pre-loaded with apps such as Netflix, HBO and Amazon is as important as having TV cable access.

4. Streaming Music. All holidays need a soundtrack, and Bluetooth-capable speakers are a must these days. An added bonus would be wireless streaming speakers such as Sonos, with pre-installed house accounts such as Spotify or Pandora.

5. Welcome iPad. Skip the pile of outdated brochures from local businesses and provide an iPad or similar tablet, loaded with apps for local attractions. A Google doc or other cloud-based document pinned to the home screen providing all the details you need to know about the home and the area is an excellent touch. Consider preloading the device with manuals and the apps needed to control the technology in the home.

 
 

Vacation Home Interior & Exterior Checklists

When it comes to what matters most in the interior of a vacation home, kitchens are at the top of the list! Vacationers want the ability to make their own meals and list it as a major factor in choosing a vacation home over any hotel or motel. In fact, 67% said they averaged two or three meals a day at their vacation rental, and only 8% admit to eating every meal out in area restaurants.

Vacation Home Interior & Exterior Checklists
“In vacation rentals, kitchens get used frequently, so ease of access and updated features such as layered lighting on a dimmer make staying in a rental much more comfortable,” says design expert Kerrie Kelly, who writes about interior design for The Home Depot. “Updated appliances, a layout for entertaining, and easy-to-clean surfaces like quartz countertops are crucial.”

Vacationers are willing to pay extra for an upscale kitchen with stainless steel appliances, a dishwasher and kitchen accessories like a corkscrew! The finer details really do matter. Think about what would make you comfortable and what was lacking if you ever stayed in a vacation rental.

Vacation Home Interior & Exterior Checklists
Beyond the kitchen, 30% of vacationers would like to have a fireplace, while 55% will pay extra for a washer and dryer on site. In the bathroom, vacationers often appreciate a relaxing environment. Turn your bathroom into a relaxing spa with a garden tub and a stand up shower and your renters will appreciate it more.

Vacation Home Exterior Checklist

The majority of travelers (68%) said that one of their favorite activities while vacationing is relaxing outside. Another 42% identified access to a deck, yard or other external space on the property as a major feature they consider when choosing a vacation rental. The cooks among them, 66% in fact, enjoy cooking outdoors, that range from basic grilling to outdoor kitchens and fire pits, too.

Vacation Home Interior & Exterior Checklists
“From personal experience, having ample entertaining amenities makes the experience that much better,” Kelly says. “Having an outdoor entertainment area with lounge chairs, an umbrella and an outdoor kitchen also allows guests to feel more relaxed and at home in the rental.”

Vacation Home Interior & Exterior Checklists
When it comes to pools and hot tubs, 60% of travelers desire these features and are willing to pay for them. Other exterior features that matter are proximity to attractions (65%), an outdoor living space (42% that includes patio furniture (32%), and recreational equipment (32%).

Keep these checklists in mind when you’re thinking about renovating your vacation home for rental purposes. It boils down to this — the more you offer your vacationers the more they’re willing to pay. It’s just that simple.

Survey Says…What Today’s Travelers Want in a Vacation Home Rental

More people than ever want to travel the country and when it comes to accommodations they don’t want to settle for a basic hotel room or campground. Private vacation home rentals are becoming more popular than ever not just with Baby Boomers but for Millennials, too. From home-sharing sites to luxury vacation rentals, travelers prefer a more customized approach to their annual vacation. Today’s travelers are not interested in living in a single room such as a hotel provides.

Survey Says…What Today's Travelers Want in a Vacation Home Rental
Based on recent surveys by Home Depot and Tripping.com the following data shines a brand new light on vacation home rentals that owners need to pay attention to.

• Of all people surveyed, 79% have rented a vacation home in the past so it’s not new to them.
• Of those, 46% have rented a vacation home in the last year and 52% plan to rent a vacation home in the next year.
• Boomers and Gen Xers are driving the biggest share of rental growth, with a 17% expected increase in those who plan to rent this year vs. last year.
 

Size Isn’t That Important

Vacation home rentals of all shapes and sizes are an appealing choice for travelers. A larger home, while netting you more income, is not necessarily the most preferred vacation rental. While single family homes are a great fit for travelers with children, smaller and more economical formats are more popular with singles and couples.

Survey Says…What Today's Travelers Want in a Vacation Home Rental

Coastal Locations Matter Most

As far as location, the beach is preferred by most travelers, with 74% of respondents preferring to spend their vacations on the coast. There are 83% that simply prefer to be near water — whether the ocean or a lake. Alternatively, 51% and 35% prefer mountainous and city vacations, respectively.
 

Who Are These Travelers?

The expectations of travelers regarding their vacation accommodations vary based on age, gender and family situation. However, there are a few commonalities that transcend across all vacationers surveyed.
 
Survey Says…What Today's Travelers Want in a Vacation Home Rental

Millennials want luxury.

• Millennials have expensive tastes—12% plan to rent a villa/estate in the next year vs. only 6% of Boomers and 9% of Gen Xers.
• Older generations, in spite of having higher incomes, are more likely to have stayed in smaller format homes like cabins or cottages than Millennials (75% vs. 64%).
• Millennials are most likely to rent a vacation home with friends (48%). Vacation rentals for the purpose of bachelor(ette) and girls’/guys’ weekends are also popular among both female and male Millennials at 35% and 34%, respectively.
 
Survey Says…What Today's Travelers Want in a Vacation Home Rental

Women prefer beaching it with friends.

• Women prefer the beach more than men (78% vs. 68%) while men have a higher preference for mountains than women (53% vs. 49%).
• Women are more likely to rent a home with friends (40% vs. 34% men). Nearly 30% of women have rented a vacation home for a gals weekend with friends (vs. 21% men for a guys’ weekend).
 

Vacations are a family affair.

• Families matter since 90% of people who rent vacation homes to so with extended family and 36% bring children.
• Family reunions are the top special occasion (41%) for which people will rent vacation homes.
• Homes with equipped kitchens was the biggest reason 71% of travelers with children said they chose a particular vacation rental.
 
Survey Says…What Today's Travelers Want in a Vacation Home Rental

Pets are family, too.

• Half of all vacation renters look for pet-friendly homes.
• Of those, 40% are willing to pay a bit extra for pet-friendly accommodations, most importantly outdoor space (81%) or a fenced-in yard (73%).
 

What matters most of all.

While it’s only natural that different types of travelers look for different features in a vacation rental home, most people want the same basic things. The top four features that make a vacation home appealing to a renter is: accessibility to a kitchen, value for the money, privacy and ample space to move around.
 
 

Is Your Vacation Rental Prepared for a Hurricane?

The recent close call with Hurricane Irma many owners of vacation property questioning how prepared they really are for a big storm. For those who just purchased their first vacation rental, there are things you need to be aware of to keep your home and your guests safe both before the storm and afterwards. The time is now to put together a hurricane preparedness plan to keep your guests and your property safe.
 
Hurricane preparedness

Before the storm

For information on how to prepare for a storm coming and to know what information to provide your guests with, go to www.ready.gov/hurricanes. Here you can read the FEMA guidelines and see sample communication templates to use for emergencies.

 

Does your rental agreement have a hurricane policy?

While the weather is out of your control, your ability to inform your guests of these situations, should they occur, isn’t. Check out the resources from HomeAway, which details the options for adding a hurricane policy to your rental agreement.

Evacuation Route

Provided Detailed Information

Have detailed preparation guidelines available in your vacation rental and an evacuation plan posted in case a hurricane warning is issued. Include local news stations and radio channels. Give information on the evacuation route from your vacation rental.

 

Stay Current with Forecasts

Predicting the path of a storm can be challenging. The storm’s size and path can directly influence what sort of wind patterns guide, enhance or hinder its growth. Forecasters have computers that take large amounts of data and predict where the storm will go and can usually calculate 2-3 days out fairly accurately. Generally the forecast track or path is given with the average consensus of these models. The National Hurricane Center has the most up-to-date information on hurricane developments, forecasts and weather alerts, discussions analyzing the data and more.
 
after the storm

After the Storm

Information on post storm clean-up with business-specific information can be found here: https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/manage/prepare-emergencies-disaster-assistance
 
If you’re concerned about health issues resulting from the event the CDC can help: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/index.html