The Amenity Stack: How the Right Combination Creates Massive Financial Upside

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In this episode, Tony and Jordan explore the world of vacation rental amenities, and how stacking multiple amenities on top of each other can create a winning formula that drives bookings and boosts average nightly rate.

As experienced vacation rental hosts, Tony and Jordan have seen firsthand the impact that the right amenity stack can have on guest satisfaction and revenue. But what exactly is an amenity stack, and how can hosts use it to their advantage?

Join Tony and Jordan as they break down the components of a successful amenity stack.

If you’re a vacation rental host looking to elevate your guest experience and increase your revenue, this episode is a must-listen. Tune in to discover the art of the amenity stack!

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This editable transcript was computer generated and might contain errors. 

Tony Stancato: Welcome to the Michigan. Short-term rentals podcast, My name is Tony Stancato here with my co-host. Jordan painter. What’s going on Jordan? Yes, sir,…

Jordan Painter: Man, living the dream. It’s a good day.

Tony Stancato: Happy Valentine’s Day. What do you got going tonight? Going out to dinner.

Jordan Painter: Yeah, I don’t know, we’ll see, we’ve been passing a bug around my house so everyone was pretty miserable last night. Not sure if Not sure if we’re gonna be up for it tonight, but Go get some flowers and…

Tony Stancato: Gotcha. Does that mean? Okay. Nice.

Jordan Painter: Take him home.

Tony Stancato: What about some dinner in?

Jordan Painter:  Yeah, maybe that. That’s the only option to get some, get some nice order out, carry out and take it home with some flowers and try to try to get some brownie points.

Tony Stancato: Nice nice. What else is? What else is new

Jordan Painter:  Man. Yeah, just the never-ending cycle of these projects so it’s, it’s the, you know, we did that podcast on the valley of despair. I feel like every time I turn around contractors, got their hands out for more money or they found another issue. We got to get another Plumber, electrician, whatever it is back in and yeah, just ready. Ready to be done? Ready to be done.

Tony Stancato:  Yeah, I I feel that definitely never goes as fast as you’d like, and never at the budget that you would like it to go at. So, you know, all stuff. We just gotta get better at bring in. I think we talked a little bit yesterday, just making sure that we’re bringing people in to help move the process along, you know, at the end of the day time is money. So looking forward to connecting with some people that might be able to help us move that along.

Jordan Painter: Yeah, I think that’s a great point. Just from the the business standpoint of the You know, the short-term rental is, you spend so much time doing low value low dollar jobs and…

Tony Stancato: You.

Jordan Painter: instead of focusing on the areas that actually make money. So definitely something to keep in mind is you’re looking through what you’re doing, where you’re spending your time as being efficient, and making sure that you’re participating as much as possible in the the income producing activities. And it’s just so easy to get sucked in and I’ve been joking lately as as today, I’m going to be on the way to do it again. I feel like I’m the personal banker for the few deals we have going on. It’s a, It’s a non-stop, you know, track to the bank, to get checks, or wire funds, or do something. So

Tony Stancato: Yeah, well you’re the banker. I’m the painter apparently. So Yeah.

Jordan Painter:  I’ll take that job.

Tony Stancato: Well, what do you say? We get into it?

Jordan Painter:  Go.

Tony Stancato:  Alright. Today, we are going to talk about the amenity stack. I know we’ve done quite a few podcasts about amenities in the past, but I think we were talking last week we were talking about. Hey, should we get a sauna over at this new property that we’re staging? And there was some some talks about, Hey, asana is not gonna bring people in right? And then that kind of got me thinking about our best property that did 115,000 last year. I mean it’s nothing special by by any means. It’s a it’s a cool place but it’s not like this luxury getaway and then it just got me thinking like Hey that place actually has a sauna in in your right. I don’t think people book it because it has a sauna and then I said, Okay well what amenities is it in? I think it’s

Tony Stancato: The amenities combined. So in like this instance I believe it got me thinking like Hey one plus one plus one equals 5 and at this particular property we probably have one of the coolest fire pits in all of Michigan to very large bear sculptures. Has a hot tub and has a sauna, right? So in that instance, it’s like the stack of those amenities that make it really desirable.

Jordan Painter: If?

Tony Stancato: What are your thoughts on the amenities stack and the importance of? Not only the other thing is like I just talked to somebody the other day. They’re like Hey getting a hot tub prices are gonna go up. It’s like Well, technically a hot tub isn’t going to necessarily bring in, you know, tons of traffic. Right. What else do you have? That’s pairing it with that because I mean a hot tub is getting to the point where it’s almost like that’s kind of the standard nowadays.

Jordan Painter: Yeah, I would agree. I I always kind of go back to my experiencing Gatlinburg Tennessee. So my family and I have traveled there several times over, I’d say like the last probably 10 years and, you know, we just did this podcast a week or two ago about just the level of competition and maybe some shift happening happening in the market because the inventory is going up and being competitive. And I think back to the first time that we went to Gatlinburg, it was like, you know,

Jordan Painter:  Everybody there has a hot tub and a pool table. It’s almost expected that when you’re booking a place in Gatlinburg, that they’re gonna have a hot tub in a pool table. Then we went five years ago and it was like, okay, there’s a hot tub in a pool table and maybe some other extra amenity, whether it was a fire pit or a game room. And we went again last year in everybody. That was, you know, competitive, it seems like they’re just continuously having to add on to that amenity stack. The the amount of amenities are providing to kind of separate themselves from the crowd. So, you know, the last time we went, they had a theater room. They had a game room, they had a hot tub, they had a pool table, they had all of these extras, you know, even a little arcade system in the


Jordan Painter:  And the living room. So I think you’re on to something there. When we start thinking about it like, Hey, why is it that the one property we have is is doing so well, and we’re comparing it. You know. We’re hearing other people who own properties that I would argue are probably more luxurious than ours that aren’t getting the same returns we are. And I do think it’s the the combination of you know you people will pay a bit of a premium for those extra amenities. You get you get more bookings and you’re the one that’s gonna book faster. So I think, you know, trying to figure out in each market, what is that, what does that magical? Magic three or four amenities, that you can have that, if if it’s between, you know, one property and another one, what’s setting yours apart. So

Tony Stancato: Yeah, I mean if we’re looking all other things being equal right, we’re both looking at. We’re looking at properties. That hey, three beds, two baths, both of them have a hot tub, they both have nice design, maybe they’re equal distance to the lake. I mean, in that instance, it’s going to be oh, whoa, this one has a, this one has a sauna, right? So yeah, the sun is not gonna bring in more but when you stack it on to the other ones and it’s like, oh yeah, but this one has a sonic. Even if like, only two people out of there, use it in your mind. You’re gonna say, Yeah, but this has a sauna. So you might you it’s just like, hey, we might use it, or it sounds good. And I think you’ve mentioned on previous podcasts, like you’ve booked places because it had this, it, whether you guys used them or not. I mean, it’s just that thing that sets you over the edge. So I guess on this one, just the most important, you know, information that we can relate to you is it’s not a single amenity that is going to drive.

Jordan Painter: It.

Tony Stancato:  The most, you know, drive more bookings to you. It can certainly help, but it’s not going to be the game changer necessarily, right? So, I was talking to the person, they’re like, Yeah, prices are gonna go way up and it’s like, well, I mean, Hot tubs are just kind of standard so now you can probably just get the the price that you were hoping to get in the first place. So what else can we stack on top of that? To make it a more desirable you desirable place that can set you apart from other people in the the market? and,

Jordan Painter: Yeah. I would I would kind of look at it is is just because we’re, we’re operating in Michigan. It’s like Okay. What are the what are the What are the three to four? Top must have amenities in the winter? What are the top three to four amenities that you have to have in the summer and there may be some overlap there but I mean take it from that view Tony. Like if you were to pick your favorite three, summer amenities to have one of those three.

Tony Stancato: Yeah, so my stack right here, ready pickleball court because nobody’s got one, you know, and I think I would go pickleball court for sure separate myself from the competition because nobody in Michigan has one. I think there’s like five. Well, Pickleball Court.

Jordan Painter: You hear that Jason and Jamie that’s for you.

Tony Stancato: I’m gonna still do the hot tub just because we’ve seen in the winter months. That places with hot tubs, do get more, they stay more booked and they book for more dollars. And then I think I would probably go with the sauna. I mean and it doesn’t even have to be a big one. I think we were talking the other day. Like, 2500 bucks, you can get like a three person sauna and so I think I’d go pickleball hot tub sauna and that would really separate us from everybody else. How about you?

Jordan Painter: Yeah, so for the summer, I would say I love the pickleball idea for sure, so I also like the idea of volleyball kind of badminton that, you know, that’s something that it’s if you do a good one, it’s low maintenance people really enjoy it. I think it’s something that is just an extra. You know, I think this all really goes back to your what, when you’re marketing these properties, you are giving up your painting, a picture for the people of what is the experience that I’m gonna have with, with the group that I’m going with? So I think when you’re, when you’re looking at it through that lens it’s like Hey I want to give them the vision before they get there to get them to book it. So for sure. Yeah. Pickleball I think is a good trial one. It’s gonna be a low competition as far as the other the other, you know, hosts that are able to offer that.

Jordan Painter:  Volleyball would be a close second to me, only because it’s so inexpensive. It’s easy to set up. It’s easy to maintain. It seems like that’s a really good one.


Tony Stancato: Yeah. so my thought on that and get your take on, it would be like I almost feel like the stack needs to be more expensive ones right because we can all get you know I think I did that list of a thousand right and you can spend a thousand bucks and you have all these things but with the stack really need to be like three amenities that Are a little bit more expensive that other people won’t necessarily be able to compete as easy.

Jordan Painter: Yeah, I I could go with that, but I do think that that volleyball is being it, that it’s inexpensive. It’s still something that people, you know, groups of people can play together in and it would it would certainly be something for my my family and the people that I travel with that it would be a huge bonus to have the option to do that. And I know just from having that at one of our properties, it seemed to be a big hit. I know, you know, we had constantly to reset the thing up because we had bought a cheap one and it was it was definitely something that was a big deal. The hot tub, even in the summer I would say is definitely a really up there. You know, throughout the year, we constantly get the question is the hot tub up and running, it doesn’t really matter what season it is and in. So I think the hot tub is a really good one. So yeah, I’m gonna go I’m gonna go with volleyball hot tub and then yeah, the sauna, same thing. The the few times that I have had the opportunity to to use that property myself.

Jordan Painter:  Um, the comment that I get, I’d say more than anything from people later was remembering the song. You know it’s becoming a more and more popular item. And so I think that that is definitely a really cool. Cool. Amenity that, that not too many people are gonna have

Tony Stancato: And it seems low maintenance. I mean, we have a knock on wood, had any issues with with the sauna and you don’t have to pay for the monthly maintenance, you don’t have to pay for the water to be, you know, cleaned out Refilled and all that stuff and I’ll go back to your volleyball comment as well if you do it right. It doesn’t have to be a cheap, a cheap add-on. I think we quoted sand like legit sand. And I want to say that was like probably gonna be as much as a sonic cost if not more. So I mean I think it was like five grand was the quote We got to get a bunch of sand just brought in and all that jazz so it definitely if you do it right? It could be something that can set you apart and have a little bit more of a professional type core. I think people could probably that could really help you. Set yourself apart, from other other people as well.

Jordan Painter: Yeah, that’s a good point for sure. So top three, that’s our top three summer. What do you what do you got for top three winner?

Tony Stancato:  Yeah, I mean they don’t change much sauna, hot tub. Those are both great options and then You know, it has to be something indoor, it’d probably be some type of arcade game or I know I like the Nintendo switch. I’ve also heard really good things about this board game. I think it costs like $900 and it’s a A game that you can pretty much play any board game you want on and all you do is kind of clean the screen because it’s, you know, it’s a video game type board game but you can play like monopoly in that kind of stuff on it. So something that something that keeps people inside and you know it’s fun to do and something that maybe not everybody else has.

Jordan Painter: Yeah, yeah, I would go for, yeah, kind of the same same, the same track. That sauna hot tub is, is as big, or bigger in the winter months than it would be in the summer. I think, especially for driving bookings. You know, if you’re close to, you know, beach or travel area in the summer in Michigan, that’s what people are going for. The hot tub is gonna be added bonus. Maybe you can buff up the rate a little bit, but definitely in the offseason to increase bookings that are typically going to be just weekends. Having those extras, make a big difference, maybe not as much in nightly, right? But in the, in the amount of time that you’re gonna be occupied and then, yeah, I would, I would say my dream would be to have some kind of a cool theater room and…

Tony Stancato:  It.

Jordan Painter: every single place that we have and, you know, whether it’s a projection screen or a big screen and just like a movie themed room, just to give that impact of. Hey, it’s a, you know, it’s a cool cool setting to go and you got the little popcorn stand and you got the, the big screen and maybe some some Cool posters and just kind of really dressing up a theater room along with, like you said, some arcade games and stuff like that, there’s a lot more of them. Now that you can buy from, you know, big box stores or you can go straight old school and get one of the legit ones, but I think that, that little bit of extra is gonna be a difference maker in whether they book yours or they booked a really nice house. That doesn’t have that.


Tony Stancato: Yeah, I think I’m thinking about it to kind of the thing I’ve been contemplating for the property that we’re outfitting right now would be kind of a more premium type poker table as well. I mean we get a lot of guys groups or a lot of couples and you know people that like to play cards I think if you can offer something that’s not chintzy and just be a really cool place where people can come in and play some play some poker as well. I think could be a great option and not everybody has it.

Jordan Painter: For sure, man. I would say the last thing for the winner would be if you have a short-term rental, that’s not occupied, Year-round then you don’t really need a garage. So that’s another area where you can really capitalize on that extra amenity space whether or not it’s heated. It can really add a lot of extra dimension to what you can do with the house. As far as have an extra room for some of those extra kind of indoor outdoor type activities where it’s it’s a little bit more climate control than outside, but you still have a pretty substantial amount of extra space that you can utilize. If you if you, you know, stage it appropriately.

Tony Stancato: Absolutely. So yeah, we just want to jump on here something that we’ve been thinking about, as we’re trying to equip these properties to again, get higher nightly raids in higher occupancy. I really believe this is the Oneplus one plus one equals five. So it’s not going to come down to just one amenity. It’s hey. What are those three to five amenities that other people aren’t willing to to buy?

Jordan Painter: If?

Tony Stancato: I mean, I’ve seen a lot of people aren’t even willing to buy, you know, some of the lower end stuff. So this is gonna be a way that you’re gonna be able to separate yourself from the competition and again, pickleball hot tub, sauna who else find me one, other property in all of Michigan, that has that stack. And now you’ve just carved out a niche for yourself that nobody else will be able to compete with. So all right, well, till next time,

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