How to Start a Cabin Rental Business - A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Start a Cabin Rental Business: A Step-by-Step Guide

In this article we discuss How to Start a Cabin Rental Business: A Step-by-Step Guide.

Starting a cabin rental business is an excellent opportunity for anyone who dabbles in real estate or loves the outdoors. It can be an increasingly popular alternative to more expensive hotels and campgrounds, and if you own a cabin that is sitting empty most of the time, you could make some money by renting it out. 

What are Cabin Rentals? 

Cabin rentals are private vacation rental properties that are rented out to travelers on a short-term basis as an alternative to expensive hotels. Cabins come in different types and styles. Some examples are tiny treehouses in the woods, farm houses, log cabins in the mountains, lakeside cottage.

What are the Advantages of Cabin Rentals?

The intimate, home-away-from-home setting and facilities equipped with kitchens that allow guests to cook their meals are some of the most appealing factors that attract tourists to choose cabin rentals. Tourists can enjoy a unique vacation experience in the woods, on beaches, and on islands. Plus, cabin property rentals can be a more affordable alternative to pricey hotel rooms. 

Starting a cabin rental business can be profitable and rewarding. As the pandemic restrictions start to ease, the demand for these types of rentals is expected to rise. Yet, there are essential details that have to be taken care of before the first guest arrives. Below, you will find the step-by-step guide on how to start a vacation rental business.

1. Create a Business Plan

All businesses need a good plan to succeed, and vacation rental businesses are no different. Start by assessing your current situation. Determine and organize all the expenses and income projections to help you figure out how much money you need to get started, how much profit you can expect from each property.

Plan out how you will run your rental business and how you will market it. Decide on a target market and write down your marketing ideas. Think about your goals and your budget as you create your plan. Building a cabin rental business plan will ensure a good start and guide you through the process. 

2. Choose a Location 

How to Start a Cabin Rental Business - A Step-by-Step Guide - Choose a Location

Choosing the right location is a key factor in determining your success. Here are some handy tips to consider when choosing a location for your cabin rental business:

Accessibility. You want your customers to be able to reach your cabin easily and safely. Make sure that the site you choose is accessible by road, especially if your customers will be bringing their vehicles.

One most popular and accessible vacation hotspot for “staycationers” and tourists from all over the country is the Great Smoky Mountains

Local attractions. The proximity to fun outdoor adventure activities that people want to do while on vacation can be an added advantage. Think about what kind of activities people would want to do in your area — then build your cabins around that idea.

For example, if you have excellent hiking trails nearby, add a few cabins with wrap-around porches so guests can enjoy the views as they sip their morning coffee (or evening wine).

Space requirements. Evaluate how much space you need for all of the features that you want to offer. If you want to include full-sized tennis courts, a swimming pool, cabins, and a playground, you’ll need quite a bit of open space.

On the other hand, if all you want is a simple meeting area with enough room for people to set up tents, then you won’t need much space at all.

Land ownership requirements. If you don’t have the money or credit rating necessary to buy land outright, then consider leasing or renting the land from a private owner or the government. You may also be able to find someone who will let you use their land

3. Secure Licenses and Permits 

Choose a name for your cabin rental business and register it with the appropriate agencies. Secure all the necessary licenses and permits needed for the type of business you are starting. Understand the laws governing short-term rental business in your chosen location.

4. Furnish Your Vacation Rental

How to Start a Cabin Rental Business - A Step-by-Step Guide -Furnish Your Vacation Rental

Amenities. Well-kept property with modern amenities will provide guests with a comfortable stay. Repairs, upgrades, and additions like a hot tub or fire pit may be worth the investment. 

Besides, you may consider participating in opportunities to win a cabin renovation. Enhancing and maintaining the appeal of your vacation rental to potential guests increases it. A recently renovated and upgraded space may entice guests looking for a unique getaway experience, which you can provide by investing in renovations.

Supplies. It’s a good value proposition for rental business owners to make sure that their guests will enjoy a convenient experience during their short vacation. Think about investing in supplies and tools that are essential in the bathroom, kitchen and dining area, living room and bedroom. 

Furniture. There are countless options to decorate the interior of your cabin property. The types of furniture you choose to decorate the property with will depend on your personal preferences, needs, budget, target guests, and trends. As you choose what furniture you want to buy, keep the following factors in mind:

  • Take stock of what you have and determine if it can be used in your rental property to avoid making unnecessary purchases.
  • Focus on lighting. Lighting is essential for determining your cabin’s mood, ambiance, and functionality. It can create a more enjoyable environment.
  • Provide ample storage options. Providing storage rooms or cabinets for your guests will help them keep their belongings organized during their stay and help make them feel at home.
  • Remove personal items. Remember that it isn’t your personal living space. Be sure to remove any personal items such as jewelry, family photos, personal documents, or other personal items that you wouldn’t want to keep unsupervised.
  • Buy furniture that is built to last. Invest in furniture that is built to withstand wear and tear. Dependable, durable furniture will save you money and time in the long run as you won’t have to worry about buying replacements often.

5. Define Your Brand 

How will your business be different? Think about your unique selling propositions, who your customers will be, and how they can be reached. Here are some key factors to consider as you create and build your cabin rental branding.

Conceptualize a character. Vintage cabins and charming cottages are popular options for vacation rentals. Consider where tourists might want to stay and how your property fits in with the local landscape.

Create a good name. A unique name will give your property identity and will make it stand out among all the thousands of other rentals in your area.

Hire a professional photographer. Photos of your property help prospective guests picture themselves enjoying their stay. Hire a professional photographer who specializes in real estate photography to make sure photos are taken from the best angles and at the best times of the day.

A strong brand will help you claim your spot in the marketplace and increase your chances of getting more inquiries and bookings through your online booking software.


6. Find a Cleaning Service

Prepare your property for guests. Hiring a professional cleaning service in-between guests is important to ensure your vacation rental is always clean, fresh, and ready for the next round of renters. You can hire an employee directly, contract with an independent cleaner, or work with a cleaning service. 

7. Get Insurance

If you own a cabin, the risk of renting it out is that it potentially exposes you to liability if—for example—someone is injured on your property. Rental owners typically need property insurance and liability coverage.

Property insurance covers the building itself, as well as any items inside the building that belong to you, such as appliances or furniture. Liability coverage protects you from legal liabilities if someone has an accident on the property. You might not be legally required to carry these insurances but it’s wise to have them in place.

8. Develop a Marketing Plan

The key to success in the highly competitive vacation rental market is to develop a marketing plan that will not only help you ensure a steady stream of income but will also allow you to rent your cabin at fair rates so you can make the most out of it

There are several ways to promote your vacation rental property, and all of them have one goal in common: making sure your target customers know your property exists, and that it’s their best option for a vacation. Here are creative ways to market your vacation rental property:

Find a niche and target it

Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Find a niche and market directly to it. That could be any number of things — live music fans in search of a weekend getaway, big families who need space for more than the usual six guests, or people looking for pet-friendly accommodations.

Once you’ve identified your niche market, advertise in places where those people congregate online. For example, if you’re targeting golfers, consider joining an online group for golfers in your area.

List on vacation rental websites

The next step is to list your property on top vacation rental websites. The popularity of Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway and similar vacation rental sites has made it easier than ever for entrepreneurs to rent out their properties and have access to a large pool of potential guests looking for accommodation.

Use social media

Social media is another great way to promote your vacation rental. Create pages for each of your properties on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterests and Youtube. Post photos and updates about what’s going on at and around your property.

Consider joining relevant Facebook groups where you can share information about your property. In addition to posting great content, connect with potential guests by answering questions they may have.

Make videos

A video can go a long way in marketing your cabin rental property. It allows potential renters to get an up-close and personal look at your property.

Include shots that show off all the amenities and features, both inside and outside the house, to entice them to stay at your place over others. For more information read our article on How to Make Professional Looking Videos as a Beginner.

Start a blog

Many travelers use blogs when they’re planning their trips, so starting one with information about things to do in the area is a great way to promote your vacation rental property.

For example, if you have a beach house, start a blog that contains tips on how to catch fish or what types of equipment you need for various water sports.

Join community groups or message boards

People are always posting on community groups and message boards looking for recommendations on what places have the best food or where they


Starting your own cabin rental business may entail a lot of hard work, but if you love the outdoors and enjoy meeting people, it can be a rewarding experience. By going about the guide above and taking the right action, you’ll be on your way to successfully start a profitable cabin rental business.

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