OK, so you won’t be adding the heated, in-ground pool this year. But just because that’s not in the cards (or budget), what about these won’t-break-the-bank vacation rental upgrades rental guests tell us over and over they would most appreciate:

1. New Pillows
Seriously now, just how old are those pillows at your Cape home? If you can’t remember, that’s not a good sign. Can’t tell you how often we see very nicely appointed bedrooms with high appeal in every other way – except for the lifeless, lumpy and in some cases even musty smelling bed pillows. Let’s be honest: would you want to put your head down on them, even with a fresh pillow protector on there to hide the stains? Didn’t think so.

So no biggie. Shop online at places like wayfair.com or overstock.com, get some nice, fresh, fluffy micro-fiber (some folks are allergic to other fillers) pillows. And while you’re at it, get enough so that each bed has at least one or two extras. Those are for your guests who like to read in bed and one other reason: one or more pillows is likely to grow legs and walk out of there before the summer is over. So it’s wise to have extras on hand when one disappears.

2. Quality showerhead
Sure, it would be nice to renovate the entire shower with stunning tile and glass. But that’s expensive. And you know what your guests care most about – the quality of your showerhead. Which you can upgrade for not a lot of money. A strong, even flow is most important, and it’s also good if the user can adjust the direction and nature of the flow – from finer mist to pulsing massage. Also nice if you have a valve that can be used to shut off or minimize the water flow while sudsing up. That conserves water, too, of course.

The rain-style showerheads are most popular, as they provide broader coverage. Shop online, same suggestions as above.

You probably won’t need a plumber to swap out showerheads, but if you do call one in for that and other little issues (slow draining sinks, etc.), ask him to make sure the water pressure is as strong as it can be to the shower. Nobody likes standing around in the shower waiting for a weak dribble to rinse off everything.

3. New kitchen cookware, especially skillets.

You know how annoying it can be when everything you cook sticks like glue to your non-stick skillet! Or when the bottom of the fry pan has become so warped it either won’t sit level on the burner or becomes bowed in the center so your cooking oil collects only around the edges.
Turns out your summer rental guests are turned off by those same experiences.

A new set of non-stick cookware is not expensive. Don’t buy topline stuff – you’ll be replacing it again in a couple of years anyway. Wayfair and Overstock are good places to order kitchen items online.

While you’re at it, upgrade your flatware and general-use kitchen utensils, too, especially those plastic ones with the disintegrating edges. Small cost. Big impression.

4. New beach chairs
Why do most people vacation on Cape Cod? Right, because they love the beaches. What would most vacationers rather not have to pack for the trip?
Right, those bulky folding beach chairs.

If guests are paying the freight to be at your property on or within easy walking distance of a nice beach, you should provide them with some decent – translation: relatively new – beach chairs. We’ve seen many beautiful homes on the Cape equipped with nice new everything else, except for the rusty, ripped beach chairs in the garage.

Ideally, you’ll have as many beach chairs as guests you allow to occupy the property. If you sleep up to 12 or more, it’s probably a safe bet that some of those folks are younger children who don’t need and won’t use a beach chair if they had one. However, it’s also a nice touch to have a couple or three kiddie size beach chairs to go along with that nice and also reasonably new and in good shape collection of kids’ beach toys we know you’ll want to provide.

Not a bad idea to mark your beach chairs with your address in case they get left on the beach. That way, they are less likely to run away from home.

5. Upgrade anything they touch a lot.

Picture this. Your guests arrive, turn the key in the front door and grab the door knob or handle, which is old, stained, scratched or even a bit loose. That positive first impression you want to make just took a big hit.

Same insight applies to your other door hardware, faucet handles, towel racks and toilet tissue holders in your bathrooms – even the valve knobs on your gas grill.
Every time a guest touches one of these things, their take on your property is in play. And it doesn’t cost much to communicate quality at every turn.

We represent one small beach front cottage, where the owners replaced the typical plastic switch plates and outlet covers with oversized, stylish pewter plates and kitchen drawer and cabinet knobs with glass knobs, each with a unique color and nautical design. About $75 all in. You wouldn’t believe the number of positive guest comments on these seemingly insignificant features.

If it looks, and especially if it feels like high quality, then in your guest’s mind, it is.