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What we've learned about South Texas vacation rentals / short term rentals

Updated: Jan 26

While there are standard practices for managing short-term rentals, local nuances may require specific customizations.

Drawing on our experience in San Antonio (we will soon post for Austin STR's separately), we can share some effective strategies. Here are the most crucial points:

  1. The Home

    1. Backup keys! Backup keys: Always have physical keys in case the smart lock system's batteries run out.

    2. Safety and Security: Ensure operational smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; supply a fire extinguisher

    3. San Antonio Freeze & Portable Heaters: Sometimes - and lately more often than not - San Antonio experiences a few days or weeks of extreme cold during the year. If you're unsure your HVAC system can handle the load, have portable heaters ready (don't try to buy them last minute when the freeze strikes, they'll sell out fast, otherwise you might get lucky on apps like

    4. San Antonio Summers

      1. Garbage Bins: With the end of May comes larger groups at 3+ bedrooms. This leads to quicker trash bin fill-up. Even if your guests move the trash bins to the curb, arriving guests might encounter full, fly-attracting overflow before the next collection day. The city may not even pick up overflowing bins and/or ground trash.

        1. A single regular garbage bin may be insufficient for summer trash of larger homes. To manage this issue, you might consider the following strategies:

        2. Add extra bins or replace your current one with a larger size.

        3. Enlist neighbors or cleaning crews to move bins to the curb.

        4. For overflow: enlist to dump in their own bins (most states prohibit illegal dumping at other sites without payment. In San Antonio, violators could be issued a ticket)

      2. HVAC Issues: require regular maintenance (you don't want your guests to cancel their stays due to HVAC issues, so it is recommended to: 1) Check and continuously replace filters, 2) Schedule a Professional Services HVAC Tune-up and clear up debris from the outdoor units.

    5. Dedicated / Locked Supply spaces: if you can dedicate a locked supply closet/garage/other for you and/or cleaning crew, this would prevent guests from overusing certain items like: extra towels, toilet paper, paper towels

    6. Basic amenities that are now 'expected' include the list below.

      1. Wi-Fi ,

      2. Toilet paper, hand-soap, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner

      3. Dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, vacuum and/or broom, a surface cleaner.

      4. include bleach for you house cleaners in case of stains on your white linens and towels.

      5. A fully equipped kitchen, coffee and extra trash bags

      6. Hairdryer & ironing facilities

      7. 2'nd & 3'rd sets of spares of bed linens and towels (for extra or longer-term guests or quick turnarounds in case any of these get ruined)

    7. Keep batteries available/accessible: for locks, remotes, etc.

    8. Additional amenities that are appreciated include:

      1. Extra pillows, throw blankets for cold weather.

      2. Entertainment options like books, board games, and streaming services

      3. Additional towels for the use of swimming pools or hot tubs (if applicable)

      4. A basic first aid kit

      5. Anti bug spray

      6. Basic cooking ingredients like salt, pepper, cooking oil, vinegar

    9. Professional Cleaning and Maintenance: guests care about cleanliness above all else. It is important to note that as clean as a home can be, the condition of the property (interior and exterior-including yards) plays a huge part in the cleaning review scores by guests. For example, ant problems, messy landscaping or peeling wall paint can be perceived as "dirty".

    10. Regular maintenance checks will address issues promptly (Aally's Housekeeping provides both of these services, as well as rolodex of contractors we can recommend to coordinate for issues that may arise)

    11. Occasional deep-cleaning helps tackle hard-to-reach areas or nooks that cleaners don't have time for during a turnover, such as ceiling fans, grout lines, vents, and under furniture, etc. Some homes need them more regularly than others (e.g. when vent-dust is particularly problematic).

  2. The Listing

    1. Clear & Accurate Property Description. Be transparent about everything and set the right expectations to avoid disappointment and bad reviews.

    2. Effective Communication.

      1. Parking! Everyone always asks about parking, best to provide in your listing description or welcome messages.

      2. Let guests know where the Trash Bins are and what days to pull them out to the curb (otherwise coordinate with the cleaning crew)

      3. Try to have an emergency contact to respond in cases of emergencies and you are not available.

    3. Concierge Information: Especially in our parts of Texas....

      1. Bug Season: Not everyone is familiar with how bad this might get. Pest control is important to maintain for single family homes, but also if your space is particularly affected and guests are told in advance, expectations are set and complaints / review scores are managed.

      2. San Antonio Fiesta! / First Friday / Second Saturday. Inform your guests about these special local events for authentic experiences.

      3. San Antonio's "The Dog Guide": share this local website that includes Dog-Friendly places and dog-related events in San Antonio.

  3. Guest Types

    1. Traveling Nurses: San Antonio attracts a lot of traveling nurses. They typically staying for several months and are looking for a 1bedroom1bathroom unit. List your home on to attract these long term contracts. Listing sights like, customize long-term pricing for them and others who come to town for remote work.

    2. Parties: to allow them is a cost/benefit analysis based on many factors (demand, typical party profile in your area, etc.

      • In San Antonio, most of our clients can get away with not allowing for parties as a good proportion of guests here are couples, individuals or families. Yet, it might be lucrative to set up for such as a niche offering, just keep in mind the damage and higher cleaning expenses will be part of doing business.

      • Take pictures of any damages to be compared to previous images (Airbnb allows up to 2 weeks to receive records of the damages to help you recoup costs).

    3. Pets: Allowing for pets is an added value to clients of the San Antonio short term rental market. We find that most pet owners are responsible and respectful of your space, but as part of doing business, do account for related issues:

      1. accidents will occur

      2. low hanging curtains will be chewed

      3. towels will be used (and sometimes thrown out) to clean up mud and dirt

      • So, similar to party-homes, try to manage these inevitable occurrences by doing the following:

      • ask cleaners to clean damaged towels and bag them under the sink (verbiage in your welcome messages should instruct guests where the spare towels/linens are for accidents)

      • Collect pet-fees

      • Ask for refundable security deposits for long-term stays

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