Setting Up a Short Term Rental: The HostGPO Playbook

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Setting Up a Short Term Rental: The HostGPO Playbook

If the thought of setting up a short term rental from scratch is overwhelming, you are not alone. This is hard work and there are a lot of steps that need to be taken before you’ll feel ready to list it live online. 

The truth is, you might never feel 100% ready to list it, but that’s just part of the excitement and adventure of this learning experience. At HostGPO, we want to help eliminate that decision fatigue and help you to feel as confident as you possibly can before clicking “list” – that’s why we have laid out this HostGPO playbook to guide you in your set-up process! 

We start our playbook from the very beginning – you just acquired your property or decided to make an existing property an STR…what now?

Renovations & Upgrades

First thing’s first – do you need to do any renovating, upgrading, or painting to the property? If the answer is yes, check out these vendors first:

  • HostGPO has a great partnership with Ace Hardware for all your supplies needs. Your discount will apply to purchases both online and in-store, depending on whether or not your local store is a participating location. Take advantage of this discount for replacing fans, plumbing, floors, fixtures, and more.
  • Backdrop Paint is one of our most recent vendor additions and members are already raving about them. Head to their website to choose from over 60 highly edited, stunning colors. Not sure which color to choose? Have no fear! They’ll send you a complimentary Backdrop color card to assist with your analysis paralysis. When you settle on your perfect color, our member discounts are unbeatable.
  • Rejuvenation and West Elm have some beautiful high-end fixtures, lighting, and bath and plumbing items. This is also a great place to search for any window, wall, stair, cabinet, and door hardware!

8+ Weeks Out: Furniture

Now that you’ve got a fresh, clean slate that you’re happy with, it’s time to furnish and decorate! But where to start?

If you can check these three boxes, you might be a great candidate for our Williams-Sonoma Interior Design Program:

  • I have 8+ weeks on my timeline before I want my listing to go live online.
  • I have a budget of at least $17,500 to furnish and set up my entire unit.
  • I am in need of design help!

We teamed up with the Williams-Sonoma brands (West Elm, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Rejuvenation, etc) to provide an interior design expert to design and layout your entire unit – FOR FREE! They can also combine items across brands (ie. a kitchen from Williams Sonoma + bed frames from West Elm) and oversee the white-glove installation for the unit.

Even if you use the design program for all of your furniture and kitchen items, you can still choose to purchase separate items like rugs, linens, and mattresses from our other vendors to help keep costs down.

If you’re thinking, “Help! I only have 3-5 weeks to set up my entire unit!”, you’re still in great hands with our HostGPO vendors, and there are plenty of options for you. If you’re timeline is tight or if you prefer to design yourself, we’ve still got you covered:

  • Start your furniture search at West Elm and Pottery Barn. It’s recommended to give yourself at least 5 weeks for furniture purchases. Both West Elm and Pottery Barn make furniture shopping more convenient by including “in stock and ready to ship” sections on their websites. There are hundreds of items in each category that are already in stock, so start your search here! 
  • Try playing around with sizes and colors of the items you find in the in-stock section in order to be able to see which variation of the item is actually in stock. For example, this mid-century 6 drawer dresser is in-stock and ready to ship in the acorn color, but not in the white color.
  • Don’t forget to input your zip code when searching for furniture on these websites. Each time you click on an item, you’ll be able to see a projected time frame for when you can expect it to arrive. 
  • Pro shipping tips: Most larger items (think beds, couches, credenzas, and dressers) at West Elm and Pottery Barn are eligible for assembly services. You’ll know an item is eligible if it says either “Flat Rate Delivery” or “White Glove Delivery” below the price when you click on the item. When your items are delivered, they’ll be assembled for you, and the packaging will be removed, which is all included in the flat rate shipping fee. If you know you need to order several large items, try and place them all in the same order if possible. Doing so will ensure you only have to pay one flat rate shipping fee instead of multiple.
  • Extra pro tips: Check if items are contract-grade.  Contract-grade items are constructed to withstand commercial use and are great to have in short-term rentals. 

3 Weeks out: Linens

The next thing to tackle is linens. We recommend you begin sourcing your linens 2-3 weeks out from your ideal go-live date. Luckily, we have done the leg work for you and curated a BedBOX in partnership with Standard Textile. Just choose the quality tier you are seeking and the size bed you need to outfit and leave the rest up to us! With one click everything you need to outfit your bed and bath will arrive. We chose these products and quantities very carefully, considering the most commonly ordered items and the products your guests need for a great night’s sleep. Whether it’s comfy pillows, protective mattress pads, or super soft sheets, this BedBOX has you and your guests covered. 

If you prefer to source linens on your own, a good rule of thumb is to have 3 sets of linens on hand for each bed in your rental. Here is a basic checklist, (which is built in to the BedBox already):

  • Sheet Set (3 per bed – 1 in use, 2 in backstock)
  • Pillows (2 pillows for twin, 4 pillows for every other size)
  • Pillowcases (2 extra pillow cases per pillow, always extra pillow cases!)
  • Duvet Insert (1 per bed)
  • Duvet Cover (2 per bed – 1 in use, 1 in backstock)
  • Bath towels (4 per person – 2 in use, 2 in backstock)
  • Washcloths (8  per person – 1-2 in use, 6-7 in backstock)
  • Hand towels (4 per bathroom – 1 in use, 3 in backstock)
  • Pool towels, if pool or spa is provided (2 per person)
  • Bath mats (3 per bathroom – 1 in use, 2 in backstock)
  • Robes (this is a personal preference and an amenity that goes a long way with guests – 2 per person – 1 in use, 1 in backstock)

Standard Textile, one of our favorite HostGPO vendors, has amazing products for all of your linens needs. They have been around for over 80 years, and they’re the leading provider of linens in the hospitality industry! You’ve probably experienced their perfectly unwrinkled products if you’ve stayed at a Marriott, Hyatt, or Hilton. Their products are hotel-grade, extra durable, and manufactured to withstand commercial use, so every day washer and dryer cycles won’t wear these products down like other linens retailers! 

Through our partnership, they provide both wholesale and retail quantities to fit each hosts’ specific needs. It’s easy to shop – just head to our HostGPO x Standard Textile E-Commerce store and order straight from there. Also, their customer representatives that we can connect you to are fantastic, and they’ll be sure to talk you through your specific needs and streamline the process quickly if you need some guidance!

2 Weeks Out: Mattresses, Kitchen, Rugs, Art, Amenities

It’s two weeks until go-time…what should you be thinking about? Mattresses, kitchen supplies, rugs, art, and amenities are last on our list but certainly not least! This phase of set-up will truly bring your rental to life.  We have a great resource for all things kitchen-related:

  • Our Shoppable Kitchen checklist is a curated list of all the items needed to set up a unit that sleeps up to four people. To add all the items we suggest on the Basic Set-Up list to your shopping cart, simply click a button. That’s it! We thought of everything, so we recommend you skim through the cart to see if there are things you need to remove that you already have. If your unit is larger or smaller than 4 people, consider changing the quantities of certain items.

Now that you’ve outfitted your entire kitchen in one-click, it’s time to consider mattresses. We recommend Helix’s hospitality mattresses as a go-to, can’t-go-wrong option. They’re 10-inch hybrid mattresses (part coil + part foam) with a quilted top panel. They’re not available for retail, just for larger hospitality groups like HostGPO, but the prices you’d pay are unbeatable! 

For a higher end, luxury option, check out Helix’s retail mattresses, where your HostGPO membership will get you incredible discounts and free shipping! It’s no wonder these 12-inch mattresses were the most awarded mattress brand of 2020 – they really are heavenly. Be prepared for 5-star reviews galore!

For a more budget-friendly option, Brooklyn Bedding has you covered. The HostGPO partnership with them includes a 9” and 11” Doze Dreamfoam mattress and a 10” hybrid mattress that’s a safe bet for all guests to enjoy. 

Shipping times for all our mattress vendors range from 5-15 days. They arrive in a box, rolled up, and should be ready in no time to sleep soundly on!

Rugs and decor are next on your priority list. Our vendor RugsUSA has a massive marketplace of rugs in every style, size, and shape. They have amazing washable rugs that come in one-piece so you can easily throw it in the wash when it gets stained. Your discount as a HostGPO member also applies to their lamps!

For all of your wall art, head to Society6, DenyDesigns, or Giant Art. At both Society6 and DenyDesigns, you can curate unique custom-made items for your property. Giant Art also has a wide selection of imagery to fit any interior décor. You can’t go wrong bringing your walls to life with any of these vendors!

Lastly, you want your guests to feel pampered when they enter your rental. This is where amenities and special touches come into play. Public Goods will be your go-to for all your toiletries and consumables. They have everything from shampoo and conditioner to cleaning supplies and snacks at discounted prices for our members. 

Not sure where to start? We partnered with Public Goods to create a HostBOX, which is a curated collection of household best-sellers to make hosting easier for you and more memorable for your guests. This box should be enough to get you started with your first round of bookings (rule of thumb – one box per 4 guests). Once you’ve used all of the products you can easily purchase another box or just the items you loved most in bulk through the wholesale site with your discount.

If you’ve followed the playbook up to this point, congratulations! Even if you don’t feel like it, you’re ready to list your unit online. Now it’s time to sit back, breathe a sigh of relief, and watch the bookings come in.

Craving more inspiration? Read other HostGPO Member Spotlights.

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