Vacation rentals are becoming increasingly popular with travelers, especially during the COVID 19 pandemic, as they offer more privacy and a sense of security. Compared to hotels, they also come with more freedom. As a result, the vacation rental market is likely to recover more quickly from the pandemic. Perhaps you have already discovered or even purchased the vacation rental of your choice but are unsure of what steps to take next? There are indeed many things to consider between registering your vacation rental and the arrival of your first guests. This can definitely take a lot of effort, even though your property may be the perfect vacation home. That’s why we’ve put together a 5 step guide on how to successfully rent out and market your vacation rental in Germany.
1. Registering Your Vacation Rental
In Germany, vacation rentals must always be registered with the local residents’ registration office, especially if you have to pay a local spa tax or bed tax. In some municipalities, the regulatory agency (Ordnungsamt) may also be responsible for this. Furthermore, in some large cities, there is also a so-called “misappropriation ban” (Zweckentfremdungsverbote), on the basis of which special permits must be obtained or short-term rentals may also be completely prohibited. Therefore, please inquire in advance at the responsible district office or residents’ registration office which documents you need.
Secondary Residence or Accommodation Facility?
Whether you have to register your vacation home as a secondary residence or whether it is an accommodation facility depends on if you rent it out exclusively to guests or if you also live in it yourself from time to time. If you rent the property exclusively to guests, it does not count as a secondary residence. However, if you spend only one week a year in the property yourself, you must register it as a secondary residence and pay the secondary residence tax.
Notifying the Building Authority and Registering a Business
Before you deal with registering a business, you should notify the building authority of your project. This is because you may require a building permit for the change of use or even alterations. Depending on the federal state, there may also be different minimum sizes for bedrooms.
Whether you need to register your vacation rental as a business depends on whether you are making an economic profit or if a business operation is evident. Additional services such as breakfast or a certain number of beds can also be the determining factor. As the line is often blurred here, this must be decided on a case-by-case basis. However, if you rent out your accommodation exclusively to guests and do not use it yourself, you should always assume that your business is subject to registration. Furthermore, criteria such as the location of the accommodation or the type of administration also play a role.
In most municipalities, you are obliged to notify the trade office. This means that you must inform the office of your business regardless of whether or not you have registered it. If you must register your business, you do this at your local trade office and will have to pay a processing fee of between €15 and €65. The trade office will then forward the notification to the tax office.
Registering the Broadcasting Fee
Your vacation rental must also be registered with the contribution service (GEZ). The amount of the contribution here generally depends on the following criteria:
- If you also use your vacation rental yourself, you will pay the regular monthly fee of €17.50
- When you do not use the rental yourself, but it is located in the same building or on the same property as your residence, you do not have to pay any additional fees.
- If your permanently rented vacation home is located elsewhere in Germany, it is considered a “further place of business”. In this case, you usually have to pay broadcasting fees, but often only starting from the second additional place of business, and even then only one-third of the regular fee (€5.83).
In addition to the above points, there are some special cases that you must take into consideration when registering a vacation rental.
For example, if you want to offer a breakfast service, you must comply with the food hygiene regulations. Likewise, as already mentioned, in some large cities, you must observe “misappropriation ban” and apply for a permit at the district office.
2. Requirements of a Vacation Rental
In most municipalities, the basic requirements for registering a vacation rental are based on the minimum criteria of the DTV (German Tourism Association). Furthermore, you can also have your vacation rental classified by the DTV and offer your guests certified quality.
According to the Federal Registration Act, you must fill out a registration form with the specified registration details, such as name, address or even identity card number, when guests arrive.
There are different requirements for vacation apartments, vacation homes, or even vacation rooms in terms of amenities or size. The categories are usually defined as follows:
- Vacation home is a separate accommodation (detached house, terraced or semi-detached house) with its own sanitary facilities and self-catering facilities, in which guests can be accommodated for a fee for a temporary stay.
- Vacation apartment is a separate unit within a house with its own sanitary facilities and self-catering facilities, in which guests can be accommodated for a temporary stay for a fee. The terrace or balcony belonging to the object is available exclusively to the guests for the duration of their stay.
- Vacation room is accommodation in a private house, which does not require a permit and is equipped with a maximum of eight beds.
3. Adapting Your Vacation Rental to Your Target Audience
Now that you have registered your accommodation as a vacation rental and have met all the requirements to be successful, you need to think about your future guests. Depending on what kind of accommodation you have and where it is located, there may be different categories of guests for whom your vacation rental is just right.
Defining Your Target Audience
Why is it important to know your target audience? Guests looking for a vacation rental pay attention to specific details, such as the location of the accommodation, the price, the amenities, and so on. Knowing your target audience will help you increase the number of bookings and avoid cancellations.
Firstly, the category of your vacation rental is key to defining your target audience. A smaller apartment may be perfect for solo travelers or honeymooners but may not be ideal for larger families. The location also plays a crucial role in determining your target audience. A large vacation home in a rural area might be ideal for groups of friends or events. At the same time, an apartment in the city might be just right for Millennials or so-called “workationers” – guests who work remotely and explore new destinations in their free time. Once you know your target audience, you can focus on how to attract your ideal guests.
Equipping Your Vacation Rental Properly
One way to attract guests is to have great amenities. Fast Wi-Fi and a desk can get you more bookings from guests working remotely, and environmentally conscious guests will certainly appreciate your waste separation. An outdoor area with a terrace, a beautiful dining area, or a pool will be popular with most guests looking for a relaxing vacation.
Even if you don’t have an outdoor area, you can boost your vacation rental by having a very well-equipped kitchen, a great sound system or box-spring beds so that your guests can sleep soundly. In addition, safety also plays an important role. For example, a family with children will appreciate edge protectors or child-proof sockets.
Different target audiences pay attention to different amenities and locations, so you should know who will be booking your vacation rental to equip it accordingly.
4. Description Texts and Photos
Before you advertise your vacation rental on one or more portals, you should have an informative text and compelling photos. The most beautiful vacation rental may not get many bookings if your listing has a boring, confusing or overly long text, nor will unimpressive photos encourage guests to book your accommodation.
What to Highlight
Your ad should focus on the things that make your vacation rental unique and perfect for your target audience. Does it have a great view of the sea? Is the nearest beach only a few meters away? Or is the outdoor area ideal for relaxing, enjoying the sun and cooling down in the pool? Think about your biggest selling points and highlight them both in the text and in the photos.
Just like a professional copywriter, a professional photographer knows exactly how to stage your accommodation and capture it at its best. The weather, the time of day, the incidence of light and perfect camera angles can make all the difference to your photos. Furthermore, a smartphone simply can’t compete with a top-notch camera.
Potential guests will know within seconds of looking at your photos whether they like your accommodation. First impressions count, and professional photos are more likely to convince travelers and make them even more curious about your property. Besides, professional photos have been proven to generate 5 times more bookings than non-professional photos.
You may now feel inspired to sit down and start writing an excellent text for your vacation rental, mentioning all the highlights and explaining why it is the perfect accommodation for vacationers in your region. However, it might be a good idea to have a professional text created for your listing.
Professional copywriters can help you attract guests by creating the perfect text for your vacation rental. It is essential to know exactly what information travelers are looking for in a text and what amenities and specifics of the region should be mentioned. A very long and rather descriptive text could make travelers feel overwhelmed and move on to the next listing.
A compact text that contains all the necessary information and at the same time omits unnecessary points is key to a successful vacation rental business.
5. Listing Your Vacation Rental
The Advantages of a Channel Manager
Listing your ad independently on the big portals like Airbnb, Booking.com or Fewo-Direkt, but also with more local agencies, can help you get more bookings and thus increase your revenue. At the same time, this can cause various problems with double bookings, different pricing models and lots of time spent managing the different calendars.
Working with a channel manager, such as Bookiply, could be an all-in-one solution to this. This way, you can manage all portals through just one system and no longer have to log in to different accounts. Your vacation rental will be automatically published on the most popular travel websites and all bookings are centrally stored in just one calendar. By automatically synchronizing all calendars, already booked dates are then blocked, meaning you don’t get double bookings. A channel manager like Bookiply saves you considerable administrative work and also offers you additional services.
Bookiply provides a professional text in several languages for your vacation rental, professional photos and a regional account manager who will be your contact person for all matters.
With the help of a channel manager, your vacation rental is in the best hands and you will also never have to worry about cancellations. This gives you more time to focus on your guests.
Prices for different vacation rentals vary for many reasons, such as the type of accommodation, location and amenities. Although you can determine an average overnight price based on these criteria, it is not very useful to choose the same price throughout the year. Prices also depend on seasonality, demand and length of stay.
You can offer discounts to attract guests who want to stay for longer. The overnight rate will be lower, but you will earn more revenue if your calendar is filled for a longer period of time. Moreover, you can charge additional fees if you host more than a certain number of guests.
A good pricing model can be crucial to the success of your vacation rental business. A channel manager like Bookiply also has insights into market data and can help you set the correct prices for your region. This means more bookings and higher revenue for you.
You Are Now Ready to Start Renting Out Your Vacation Home
Now that you know exactly what to do to rent out your vacation home in Germany, you can get started and make your dream come true. We hope that you will feel motivated by this and ready to take the first steps towards building your own vacation rental business. Once your first guests arrive and enjoy a wonderful vacation with you, you’ll know it was worth it.