After five years of running three short term rentals in the Disney World area I created a list of what renters are looking for.

Within my first year of owning property near Disney world, I was featured on the front page of the New York Times travel section.

I quickly realized when running the property that the more times you can say “yes we have that” the more bookings you will receive.  Certainly, sometimes Renters will overlook certain criteria because they love your house. But why should you struggle!? Make it an easy choice for them by planning wisely!

1. Close to Disney World

Close means under 20 minutes but 10 minutes and under is best. The number one question I received in every single email request was “how far are you away from Disney?”  You can’t fudge this number– the closer the better. Have a map available so that you can show guests that you are just a few minutes to Disney World. 

They also ask for outlet shopping and, of course, Universal Studios, but being close to Disney World is the number one feature. Don’t let anybody tell you that you could rent a property that is 45 minutes from Disney World. 

2. Gated

Renters don’t know the area.  Being able to say, “you will be greeted at the gate when you arrive,” makes renters feel secure.  This is probably one of the best features that you can have but don’t make it seem like they are in danger.  Possibly saying this is a great community and we keep a watchful eye on our residents will work. However, a gated community with 24 hour attendant is best.

3. First-floor Bedroom and Full Bath (not necessarily the master)

If you have a one-story home this is not an issue of course. But when you have a two-story home it is vitally important (to secure that booking) that you have a first-floor bedroom.  You will frequently get renters with the need of having something for a person with limited mobility.  Having a downstairs bedroom with attached full bath really answers that need.

4. Close To a Grocery Store

Both overseas travelers and US travelers are going to have grocery needs. Being near a grocery store is a great thing to point out in your listing but the most requested shopping destination that I have been asked for is Walmart! I think that is because no matter wherever you are traveling from, you know and reconize Walmart.

5. Ample Parking

You would think that a normal home has ample parking but with short-term rentals, that’s not necessarily true. I like to look for rentals with my customers that have additional parking either on the street if there aren’t two spaces in the driveway. 

Older, pre- 2005 homes weren’t built this way and often have limited parking.  You may think the family would only need one car however very often renters come in several cars with members of their family and friends.

6. Basketball court/Tennis

Court games: volleyball, tennis, basketball. Anything that your community has that’s a little bit different from other communities.  One of the great things about having a short-term rental is that your guests can take a few days to themselves to unwind. It’s helpful if while they’re unwinding there are a lot of things for the kids to do.

7. South Facing Pool

A south-facing pool is a very significant feature when it is obtainable.  The south-facing pool allows the sun to be over the pool to get the sun in daylight hours all day.  Use your listing as an educational tool for your renters to make you stand out. “Our south facing pool gets the sun all day”

8. Arcade Space In House or Community Center

Frankly, I never understood this one. When I first bought my home I was shocked that the game rooms were in the garage. Unless garages are insulated, even when it is they are not air-conditioned and in central Florida, they can get quite hot so I like when you have enough space to bring the gaming room into the house either in a loft or in an extra living room. 

This way you can position yourself by saying “we have an actual game room, not a converted garage”. Educate your renters that you are better.

9. Space By The Pool To Stretch Out

Nothing in your photos should ever look cramped, an example of this furniture that is just too big for the room. It makes the room looks small. Beds that block a window is another no-no because the room looks too cramped to sleep in. You can always set up the furniture for photography then change it back. 

Then finally when you have an area by the pool which does not allow room to stretch out well what’s the use of having a pool?  You need space to stretch out. Don’t over crowd that space with furniture in photos.

10. Strong Word of Mouth Advertising For The Community!

By far this is a top feature. You want renters who are already familiar with your community. Generally, it’s by other people they know who have rented in there.  They seem to recommend the home that they stayed in, but you often get the call that says, “the house my friend stayed in is booked but yours looks so much better” and you’ve booked it!

Bonus – Themed Rooms

Short term rentals near Disney with Disney themed rooms. I had Dalmatian, Western, and Mary Poppins. Each room was equally differentiated with the different paint colors.  In short term rentals, the owners often lose enthusiasm when halfway through the decorating.  I can’t say this clearly enough: make the rooms stand out! 

Frequently I would have guests tell me that they chose their rooms. ”Mom is taking the green room, we are in the Blue (Mary Poppins), the girls are in the Dalmatian, and our son wants the Western room.” This type of planning means they are excited to stay in your home.


Finally, most importantly, the home must be photographed beautifully by a professional real estate photographer. When I was a short-term rental owner I was quite astounded by the poor photography which owners would post. You will stand out with the simple $125 purchase. 

First impressions mean everything! That’s why you have the best of photos possible upfront and not just a photo of the front of the house but what makes your home stand out!  I’ll cover more of this in my next article, “The Top 10 No-No’s of short-term rentals”