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Creating a fantastic short-term rental welcome book

short-term rental welcome book

You share plenty of details with your guests before they arrive, but many of those communications are strictly transactional. Thus far, your relationship has been quite professional — and it should be. But guests appreciate extra effort and a personal touch as they arrive at their vacation rental.

There are many ways to go above and beyond, but the welcome book is your best opportunity to be a bit more helpful, and to truly be the host your vacation rental guest expects — and deserves.

Why do you need a welcome book?

Surely, you’ve visited friends or family in an unfamiliar area. Wasn’t it nice to have a local resource to point the way to the good, the bad, and the “secret”? Every local knows what’s a must-see and what tourist traps can be skipped over. And your guests want to know too! 

Creating a vacation rental welcome book will let them in on all of the important details. Whatever you would share with a visiting friend to help them have a fantastic trip is probably suitable to share with your guest as well. Your welcome book is your place to do it to make each vacation rental property you manage feel like your guest’s home away from home.

Your guests will undoubtedly appreciate you showing them around — both the home, and the town. The welcome book allows you to be their virtual tour guide in a sense, while not intruding on your visitors’ vacation time. Best of all, it’s there to serve as a handy reference that your guest can revisit anytime the need arises.

How a welcome book benefits your vacation rental business

For your benefit, the welcome book is a ready resource that is also likely to decrease the number of calls or emails you receive from guests seeking information — guests who may already be frustrated from wasting time trying to find the information they want to locate. The good news is that your rental property can benefit from a vacation rental home guest book that will make it feel like a custom welcome guide made just for them.

The proactive measure of providing a welcome book not only offers up frequently needed details and information, but may even provide a few new ideas that your guests never considered.

Your welcome book demonstrates to guests you’re willing to go the extra mile to provide them a memorable experience as well as save them time and frustration. You are well on your way to earning genuine reviews!

What to include in your guest book: set up the essentials

There is a lot to consider when writing your guest book. Be sure to include these elements at the very least to create a strong foundation.

Welcome letter

The welcome letter should start your welcome book. This relatively brief note will put your best foot forward, providing a friendly introduction to your home, city or town and yourself. Use this as a sort of summary or preview to the contents of your welcome book, making sure to help guests understand that you’re sharing valuable information inside.

As simple as it sounds, think of your welcome letter as the greeting you would use if you were there to personally greet each visitor. Make them feel at home, at ease, and yes – welcome!

Helpful numbers/contacts

Your guests will be coming from near and far. You should assume that they are at least somewhat unfamiliar with the area, and potentially foreign to your country and norms. Make sure they are armed with the knowledge of how to address both common needs and potential emergencies. Provide contact information for a local contact (yourself or your designated property manager) to handle home issues or needs during the stay, as well as both emergency and non-emergency phone numbers for police, fire and EMT services.

Although you’ll be including sections dedicated to activities in your area, you can include a quick-access contact list to more general visitor information needs as well, including:

  • Local airport
  • Number of local property management company (if used)
  • Car rental agencies 
  • Area package agents/tour operators
  • Local pizza delivery and takeout

Where’s the nearest…

You can be certain that your guests will find themselves in last-minute need of an item they forgot to pack, or a sudden situation they need to tend to — even as simple as a headache. Embracing the proactive approach, consider the needs, and wants, that your guest may encounter during their stay, and save them the time and frustration of figuring out where to go for a swift resolution.

Consider the area surrounding your vacation home, and provide location information on the nearest:

  • Laundry service (if not in-home)
  • Pharmacy
  • Convenience store/gas station
  • Grocery store
  • Quick dining
  • Bar/pub
  • Movie theater
  • Public recreation facility
  • Place of worship
  • Medical facility
  • Souvenir shop
  • Post office/shipping center

Transportation information

What public transportation services are available in your area? If your home is near a bus line, subway system or other public transportation route, include information on these services. Keep current information on costs, schedules, and routes — bonus points for keeping fresh guide maps stocked as well!

Guests may also wish to use taxi or ride-sharing services. Find out which services are available — or unavailable — at your rental and provide contact information for local taxi services, and a simple list of ride-share companies servicing the location (i.e., Uber, Lyft, etc.). If it isn’t intuitive, provide the best address or area to set their pick-up location.

Think outside of the box as well. If your destination provides a public bike-sharing service or if it’s the norm to cruise the area in a golf cart or scooter that may be available for the guest to rent, point them in the direction of finding a rental provider. Advise your guests of the nearest roads around your home that provide the pathways to the most popular spots for vacationers.

House rules/policies

Advise your guests of the policies and procedures of your home and community in a clear and concise way. Summarize the check-in and check-out process, including your expectations of all guests, and their responsibilities to take respectful care of the home.

If your vacation home is located in an area mandated by a HOA or similar organization, inform your guests of community rules that may apply to their stay, like parking rules or noise ordinances. You may also want to share:

  • Wifi access codes & network names
  • Thermostat guidelines & heating/cooling information

Helpful home tips

Consider this a quick guide map to your home. Point out the finer details that give the home something extra, and tell your guests where they may locate various items quickly and easily.

You may also want to devote a little space to explaining how to use certain items that may be a bit more intricate, like remote controls or alarm systems.

Things to do and local attraction guides

What makes your area a unique and desirable destination? Are you near powder-sand beaches or snow-capped mountains with ski trails? Maybe your vacation home is near fantastic outdoor recreation centers or theme parks.

Think of the reasons people visit and the places they like to go. Share some insight and information on the most popular attractions, as well as the hidden gems that tourists may overlook – like the most abundant local fishing hole or the best neighborhood karaoke spot. Each guest is different, and their interests and abilities will vary as well. Try to include a diverse assortment of activities, for all types of guests and groups.

Bonus tip: you can let your guests append your list of activities by leaving a pen and some open space in your welcome book, or provide a small stamp or stickers that guests can place next to their favorite suggested activities, signaling a “thumbs up” from former guests.

Dining guide

Nothing earns a little extra appreciation faster than a good meal, and your guests will absolutely be grateful for your trusted recommendations on where to dine in the area. Provide a well-rounded list of cuisines and service types, from fast food chains and local diners, to dinner shows and fine dining, making personal recommendations along the way. Share some tips on what menu items and specialties put the local spots on the map, including signature dishes and happy hour details whenever possible. Your foodie guests will be immeasurably thankful when they can credit you with a new savory discovery unique to your destination!

Shopping guide 

From everyday needs to souvenirs commemorating their stay, your guests are going to be seeking shopping opportunities during their visit.

Offer an assortment of shopping options to cover a variety of needs, from the essentials obtained at drug stores, supermarkets and convenience stores to the kitschy gifts you’ll find at roadside souvenir shops. Don’t forget to point out shopping malls and outlet centers nearby! You’ll also want to consider local art galleries, antique shops and other venues specializing in a taste of more localized, original merchandise.

Other solutions for welcome books

In today’s digital world, it’s also worth considering a paperless welcome book that your guests receive prior to their arrival. There are a few ways you can do this, and you may even choose to go with a tandem approach: sending a digital welcome book via email and leaving a physical copy of the book in your home as well.
For digital options, consider creating a PDF document with alluring visual elements and all of the content discussed above.

The more you share with your guests, the more grateful they will be. Creating a welcome book doesn’t take too much time, but it is a thoughtful gesture that goes a long way to securing five star reviews for your vacation rentals.

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