A cozy and comfortable living space. (Photo: Design Recipes/TNS).

With the explosion of short-term vacation rentals, savvy rental hosts know the key to higher profits is to maximize bookings and rentals. One of the best ways to do this is through the use of great design. When it comes time to rent a property, many renters will judge a book by its cover. This is where thoughtful space planning and elevated design come into play. Here are 10 tips on how to maximize your vacation rental.

• Design for your target audience. Don’t just use what you have; remember you are marketing an “experience.” Include bright, fun and friendly colors into your decor.

•Include a welcome basket. This should include maps of the area as well as items such as bottled water, sunscreen and small snacks. Want to splurge? Consider a bottle of wine, local maple syrup or cheese from a local vendor.

• Include a sleeper sofa. The more people the property sleeps, the more the host can charge.

• Charge a wear-and-tear deposit. It is important to make sure you are covered for any and all potential damages.

• Showcase board games and other activities for entertainment such as chess, checkers and pool tables.

• Make sure you have enough seating for beds and heads. It will be an absolute turnoff for a renter to rent a large space that has a limited amount of lounge seating in common areas such as living and family rooms.

• Charge a cleaning fee. Nearly all rental properties charge this additional fee to renters.

• Splurge on items that touch the skin, such as towels and bedding.

• Be sure to include extra sets of sheets. Three sets per bed is ideal.

• Create a neutral and appealing decor. Many people are turned off personal colors and decor items.

By Cathy Hobbs, Tribune News Service. Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at [email protected] or visit her website at cathyhobbs.com.