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17 Nov 2023
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Property Management

As long-time Steamboat Springs property managers, we have taught ourselves to always keep an eye on the market and local vacation rental trends. After all, there's no better way to make informed decisions regarding pricing, positioning, and so on for your vacation home.

Still, with so many tools providing short-term rental trends and stats, it's easy to get lost and overwhelmed with the amount of information.

Besides, some of the things we read are not all that relevant for vacation rentals in Steamboat Springs.

Take Airbnb, for instance; the platform is promoting stays of 30 days or more, and they claim this is their fastest-growing segment. 

But are long-term stays a thing? Not as much; we tend to get shorter average stays - right now, stats are parked at 3.5 days for our rentals.

In a public move, Brian Chesky, Airbnb's CEO, also announced he's going back to the company's roots in the AirBed days and boosting stays in private room rentals. That's also a far cry from our vacation rental niche here in Steamboat Springs…

So we ask ourselves…


What are the trends that matter for rentals in Steamboat Springs?


In this blog, we want to focus exclusively on the trends that matter for our local market.

So, let's dive into it.


Property size is important in the short-term rental game


Research on short-term rentals shows that travelers who choose vacation rentals over hotels do so because they are looking for more space. The average hotel room is about 325 square feet, while vacation rentals often exceed 1,300 square feet. In other words, your guests want to unwind and stretch out.


The kitchen is a place for guests to have a great time.


A well-equipped kitchen is another key feature guests look for when booking vacation rentals. A recent study says that 64% of people who look for short-term rentals consider the kitchen to be very important.


They want to try their chef hats, cook meals, and dine with friends and family. Interestingly, privacy was the next most important factor, with 49% of respondents mentioning a desire for their own space.


There's increasing demand for natural getaways.

Rural and nature destinations are becoming increasingly popular, while demand for big-city travel in the US is slowing down a bit. 

Vrbo, for instance, says the number of travelers looking for cabin rentals has increased by 25% year-over-year, with 61% of families showing a preference for "outdoorsy destinations." What destination could be better for them than Steamboat Springs, huh?


Get ready to welcome new types of travelers looking for vacation rentals.


The new wave of travelers have more discerning tastes and expect a higher level from their vacation rental experience. In this ever-evolving business, it's important to understand the needs and preferences of new segments to always stay relevant.

The Gen Zs, for instance, are focusing on outdoor activities. They are said to be more financially conservative and environmentally conscious than other generations.


After the COVID-19 storm, revenues are returning to normal, but now competition is high in Steamboat Springs.


Overall, revenues in Steamboat Springs and Colorado as a whole have returned to more normal levels after the storm of COVID-19. Still, we are now noticing an increase in competition. Our market has experienced a steep increase in inventory over the past years.


What to do about it? 

Start thinking about how you can stand out with your interior design and amenities, and how you can secure more bookings for your vacation rental.

Pro tip: owners begin to take a financial hit at 4.6 stars, and they lose about 9% in revenue. From there, it's only downhill. If your score is lower than that, you will need to lower your price to stay competitive. That's something nobody likes doing.

At the end of the day, besides your reviews, photos, decor, and amenities are what will set your rental apart in our increasingly saturated market.

We'll see how you can exceed in each of these points. But before we jump into that, let's try to understand one thing:


Why do people look for mountain vacation rentals anyway?


Mountain vacation rentals are especially popular with travelers seeking remote and secluded retreats — a peaceful and private escape from busy city life.

While most short-term rentals are situated in urban and suburban areas, our mountain niche extends across natural environments such as mountains, lakes, and forests — scenic areas that enhance vacation experiences — like Steamboat Springs.

Essentially, cabins and ski-in-ski-out rentals are considered alternatives to hotels, providing a far more aspirational vacation getaway where people dream about spending quality time.

Need a clear picture of what we're saying? Think of a luxury cabin nestled in the mountains, offering a cozy and private retreat with beautiful views.

It helps to make your rental as desirable as possible, something beyond a typical getaway, associated with a sense of luxury and adventure.

And that works in various types of rentals, whether it's a tiny log cabin or a luxury property; it's always possible to create a unique experience for the modern traveler.


Here are some ideas:


1. Create a modern, Instagram-worthy decor for your vacation rental


While beautiful mountain views and natural surroundings are undoubtedly appealing, your interior decor is also a crucial selling point.

Mountain vacationers usually seek the cozy ambiance that cabins and lodges in Steamboat Springs are famous for, so maintaining a warm interior and investing in modern aesthetics is the way to go. 

Many cabins in our area retain their late 90s and early 2000s decor, so perhaps it's a good idea for property owners to forego outdated styles and embrace updated decor and lighting with a more vibrant and memorable appeal that still evokes that alpine feel.

It's essential to keep in mind that most people are in search of something extraordinary. That's why a modern, airy rental property with all the comforts of a proper home is likely to see higher success. Such properties typically feature a blend of rustic and modern decor, a fully-equipped kitchen, spa-like amenities, and enjoyable extras like a hot tub or fire pit, to name a few.

Here are some key factors to consider when updating your rental:


a) Create the right furniture composition


To achieve a sleek decor, opt for furniture with contemporary design concepts and elements. Choose pieces that are appropriately sized for the dimensions of your room, emphasizing simplicity with fewer decorations and frills.

Consider sofas and armchairs with slender legs and textured, block-colored, or minimally patterned fabrics; these choices contribute to a sense of lightness in the space.




Sleek furniture composition of Basecamp.



b) Tell a story with your decor


Sometimes, vintage and intricate pieces also deserve a well-earned place in your decor; they can add character and charm to any living space.

It's great to match these items with the history or feel of our lovely Steamboat Springs. Consider selecting pieces and artworks created by local creatives and artisans that depict the local nature and culture. Guests appreciate it when the decor of their vacation rental tells a local story.


c) Blend natural and artificial light


Any architect will tell you: finding the right balance between natural and artificial lighting makes a great difference in any project.

While natural light is wonderful, it can sometimes be too much. That's why we love using curtains and blinds; they help control the light and provide privacy, adding more charm to the space.

Additionally, aim to provide the entire cabin with indirect lighting using table and floor lamps. They help create a cozy ambiance, and if you choose sculptural pieces, they will add an extra touch of sophistication. 


d) Don't neglect your outdoors


If you have an interesting exterior space in your rental, make the most of it. Especially in warmer months when snow is not covering everything, people love to spend time on a nice rooftop, porch, or terrace. If these spaces are nicely curated, they can certainly add value to any property.



Ritter Ski Hutte

Ritter Ski Hutte takes advantage of its outdoor areas and views with a firepit. Guests love it!


2. Include some impressive amenities in your rental


Decor is great to help you stand out from the competition, but alone it won't do. To really go above and beyond what people expect, aim to create the ultimate retreat feel with some extra-nice amenities.

Investing in good amenities is an excellent way to secure more bookings and increase your revenues. As a rule of thumb, the larger your property, the more amenities it should have.

Here's a rough guide according to size:


    • For one-bedroom places, hot tubs are a nice addition.


    • Those with two or three bedrooms could invest in at least one entertainment feature. Multicade and pool tables are popular choices.


    • Three and four-bedroom cabins can have two or three of those entertainment features. Air hockey, foosball, and occasionally shuffleboards can also be nice.


    • Finally, larger cabins with four or more bedrooms can truly impress their guests with a media room, a game room, or both.


Pro tip: when thinking about amenities, consider the aspirational, Instagrammable aspect of the experience you create, and let your imagination run wild.

Blackhawk Loft

Blackhawk Loft boasts a private hot tub on its deck, serving as a captivating focal point for potential guests.


3. Boost your guest experience with tech


Enhance your guest experience by offering high-tech entertainment gadgets. Smart TVs or Roku players are now widely expected as high-tech amenities since they allow guests to log into their own accounts, a feature everyone loves.

Luckily for us, they are a convenient and affordable alternative to cable.

Are you considering the eco-friendly preferences of GenZers? Why not offer EV chargers?

Also, think of implementing contactless check-in with smart locks and creating digital guidebooks about your rental and the area — these are two industry standards by now.


Steamboat Springs, CO, Vacation Rental Trends: How to Make The Most of Them

There's no doubt about it: keeping an eye on the local trends, adapting when needed, and providing an excellent experience to your guests is the best way to stand out. Yes, competition is fierce, but you can always find ways to shine brighter.