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Guidebook Ideas to Knock Your Guests’ Socks Off

Often vacation rental guests will say that it was the little details that made a particular stay memorable and/or made them want to come back to that property or rave about it to their friends.  One of those details that often gets overlooked by hosts is the guidebook.  This can exist in digital or printed form (both are best) and has almost all the information a guest could want, and then some.  We want to share some ideas to make your guest book not just a boring “manual” to trudge through but something fun for guests to really use.

Basics

But before we get to the fun stuff, you have to ensure that you have the basic information in place.  This includes:

    • Your contact information and the address of the property
    • Wifi details (this is almost more important than running water or electricity these days!)
    • Parking/Public transportation info
    • Emergency numbers as well as general hospital/clinic information
    • Appliance how-tos, including how to use the DVD player/streaming box
    • Check out procedures
    • House rules

 

 

 

Next Level

Now that you have the basics in place, you can start adding in that speciality knowledge that only you as a host who knows the local area can provide.  Remember, this is part of the allure of vacation rentals.  Rather than a hotel which is unlikely to have a concierge or perhaps no longer has front desk staff in an age of kiosk check-ins, a vacation rental promises that local touch that attracts so many travelers.  Such knowledge includes:

  • Favorite restaurants, sorted by price and type (less is more here: guests don’t expect you to be a Michelin Guide, but they do want more than 1-2 options)
  • Best places for takeout/delivery (these should be different from the restaurants, which will be great dine-in experiences, not just places for good food)
  • Advice on where to get groceries or basic items (again, your personal recommendations rather than a simple Google Maps printout will matter)
  • Recommendations for tourist attractions and day trips (here it might be helpful to categorize in terms of length of stay, i.e. if you are here for three days, definitely go to these places, if you are here for seven, then go here, etc.)

Top Level

If you had a guidebook with everything we’ve already mentioned, you’d be in the top 1% of guidebooks worldwide.  Many hosts simply don’t put a lot of effort into their guidebooks, seeing them as an afterthought or obligatory item rather than as something that will end up driving referrals and sales.  If you want to really shine, consider adding these sections as well:

  • Kid-friendly venues and entertainment 
  • Pet-friendly venues and entertainment
  • Nightlife and Music options
  • Fairs and Festivals 

Perhaps you don’t have kids or pets, don’t tend to go out at night or shy away from fairs and festivals: that’s okay.  Phone-a-Friend and get recommendations.  Don’t let your own lifestyle limit the options for your guests!

One final way to show your guests that you’ve been intentional about this guidebook: ask for feedback!  You can leave an index card or some looseleaf paper in one section of the guidebook (which you’ll need to clear out every time) across from the question: if there was one thing we could have done to make your stay better, what would it have been?  Obviously every guest is different and you shouldn’t feel the need to take all input equally, but the fact that you’re even asking will mean a lot to those guests who see this section.

It takes so much work to get a listing set up in the first place that hosts can gloss over the importance of a guidebook, but as we’ve noted above, the best ones won’t just make your guests feel truly welcomed, but will lead to more referrals and return stays: more money in your pocket.

This content originally appeared in our twice-monthly Guest Book Newsletter

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Avoid Hosting Nightmares: 5 Surprising Things Hosts Forget to Do

Data and feedback help product designers improve their customers’ experiences. The same goes for how you can shape the experience for guests staying in your home.

One helpful exercise is to observe how your guest interacts with your listing for the first time. Where do they look? What links do they click? What do they notice? What questions do they have? We’ve used these discovery principles to think carefully about how to make the guest experience as easy as apple pie.

Next time you prepare to host guests, focus on these 5 things that hosts commonly forget about.

1. Personalizing Your Place

Guests love getting a personalized perspective on their destination. After all, they’re choosing to stay in your home over a generic, standardized hotel room. Help them discover the unique personality of your vacation rental as soon as they enter. This can include unique art or objects that show off your neighborhood or family’s character, or even food that is special to your area.

For example, one Hostfully host we chatted with loves hummingbirds. He leaves hummingbird art and objects all around his home. It’s an easy way to share a bit about yourself and also be even more welcoming to guests. If you’re comfortable sharing a photograph of you and/or your family, displaying that can be a nice touch, too.

2. Providing the Essentials

People’s attention span is short in a digital age. Unfortunately, this means that it will be even harder for you to share the important things that your guests need to know when they stay in your home. However, we discovered that many hosts fail to include the most essential information at the beginning of their guidebook. This free online tool will allow you to share basic information for your listing including check-in, directions to your listing, your contact information, and wi-fi instructions.

Make sure that the first page of your guidebook includes all the important things your guests need to know — period. If it isn’t essential, don’t put it on the first page . You can include it later for those of your guests who are patient and like to read.

When you pay attention to how you share information and you help prioritize that information for your guests, you’ll give them a much better stay. And what’s more, you’ll have to spend less time explaining the information you need your guests to know. So it’s a win-win all around. Just a tip — every guest will need to know how to:

  • Operate the lights
  • Lock the doors
  • Turn on heating/cooling
  • Use water in the bathroom
  • Use the remote controls

Guests will also need to know the location of the nearest grocery store, pharmacy, and of course, the closest coffee shop. Make sure you include safety precautions if that is relevant for your listing. Keep this information short and sweet.

3. Offering a Local Experience

Most people don’t like to go to crowded places with high prices when visiting a new place. This is where you, as a host, play a key role. Showing your city with the eyes of a local is an experience guests look forward to. Andrew Ostrowski, an avid host in Nashville, has opened his house to dozens of guests across the country.

His favorite part? Helping guests live like a local and sharing with them the hidden gems that made him fall for his historic city.

 

vacation rental guest book
Andrew Ostrowski’s Favorite Local Recommendations

4. Focusing On the First 24 hours

There’s nothing worse than a communication breakdown in the first 24 hours of your guests’ stay. We’ve seen hosts who rent out 2 different areas of their home — and when one group couldn’t contact him, they got confused entered the other guests’ bedroom at midnight!

While it made for a great laugh around the kitchen table the next day, you want to ensure that your guests can reach you and ask important questions, especially within the first 24 hours.

Make sure your phone and email are turned on and encourage your guests to text you with questions (because it’s typically the most reliable and fastest way to communicate).

5. Sharing Information about Your Neighborhood

About 50% of tourists make detailed plans for their trip before they arrive, but most hosts don’t do as much as they can to share their own local recommendations.

Help your guests discover what you love about your neighborhood by sharing your guidebook before they get there. That way, they can come with better questions and make more informed decisions about what they want to do during their stay.

Make sure your guidebook includes recommendations . Feel free to sprinkle in a few stories about you and your family enjoying your favorite local spots . This makes it more personal.

What tips can you share that will help other Airbnb hosts create better experiences for their guests? Make sure you don’t make the five biggest Airbnb hosting mistakes. Listening to your guests’ feedback and observing how they interact with you are key to provide the most out of every stay.

This article comes to us courtesy of Hostfully—a platform for people to provide better hospitality to their guests. They couple local, personalized recommendations with essential listing information to make a complete guidebook for each listing. Hostfully currently operates all around the world.

Clean my
Vacation Rental


single-blog-sidebar-vacation-rental
  • Automated Scheduling
  • Cleaning Report with Pictures
  • Never a No-Show. Guaranteed.
Book Now

Testimonials

At first I tried to take care of all of the cleaning process myself, and it turned out to be a bigger headache than anything else. So a friend told me about MaidThis and its been fantastic. I’ve been working with my cleaners for a few months so far. I recommend you check out the service for yourself.
Brent
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved

I definitely think that as a company we've been able to make more money, not only because we're saving money by using Maid This, but also because they're helping take a few of the necessary evils with doing vacation rentals off of the property managers plate.
Laura G
Airbnb Host in LA
90+

Hours
Saved