In years past, clients would often ask us at Guest Hook, “Do guests even read welcome books? Are they really worth my time?”
There certainly have been many lonely welcome guest books gathering dust on side tables in vacation rental homes everywhere. But that’s less and less the case, these days. The vacation rental industry has grown, and along with that, the expectation from the guest that you’re providing a premium welcome packet or book (digital or physical).
The reason? A significant number of guests are going to crack open your welcome book within the first five minutes to… you guessed it… get your WiFi password.
Plus, today’s modern vacation rental experience often includes a digital welcome book that guests can explore before they even arrive. And guests are learning that their hosts pack a lot of useful information into their welcome guides that can actually make their vacation better! Many rental owners just do the minimum, but an awesome welcome book will help your vacation rental business earn better reviews and have a higher rebook rate on your guests.
In other words, vacation rental welcome books do matter—maybe now more than ever. In this post, we’ll show you how to make the best use of yours.
The below list is designed to be one-size-fits all. Use it for old-school vacation rental welcome books you print and leave out at your property, their digital cousins like Touch Stay, or a printable PDF you create and email to guests.
Let’s get to it! Here is what you should include:
When you can’t meet your guests in person, your vacation rental welcome book becomes your voice—it’s your “hello”, the introduction to your short-term rental, and an important part of your guests’ first impression.
So, write a quick sentence or two that welcomes guests to the property, offers well wishes for a great vacation, and drops any fun facts or tidbits about your property (i.e.,”I spent summers here as a kid,” or “the birdwatching is great on the back deck!”).
As mentioned, your guests will be seeking your WiFi password pretty much immediately. Put this on the first page of your welcome book in large, bold letters; it’ll save you phone calls and texts.
Put your contact information on the first page, as well. This includes both your own phone number and email address, as well as your preferred method of contact (text, email, phone call).
If you are a remote host who doesn’t live nearby, also include the info for your local contact, whether they be a property manager, co-host, maintenance person, etc.
Most guests really do want to be good guests—if for no other reason than the fact that they’re going to get star reviews, too!—so make it easy for them. Offer clear, step-by-step instructions for your checkout process, and try to keep the burden light for them. After all, vacation rentals are trying to compete with laissez-faire hotels.
Tip: if you require something a little extra from guests, like asking them to start the laundry, make sure to offer an explanation for why that is. Guests don’t like to feel like they’re working on their vacation.
For example: “Because of tight turnaround times and a lot of linens to wash, we ask that you please start a load of towels before you leave. This makes things less stressful for our cleaners. Thanks!”
Also include operating instructions for your home’s quirks and most-asked-about features.
Hot tubs, thermostats, smart TVs, sound systems, and coffee machines are all devices that have a bit of a learning curve for guests who aren’t familiar.
Some hosts opt simply include a copy of the manufacturer’s operating manuals in their welcome book. While it’s better than nothing, those manuals are often so detailed they are overwhelming.
It may be worth it to take that extra step of translating those instructions into an easy to follow, numbered list. (You can always include the manufacturer’s manual in addition! Good for troubleshooting.)
Clear, easy-to-digest house rules are also an important part of your welcome book. As with your check-in and checkout instructions, you’ll want to keep these short, simple, and readable.
Explanations of context are good here, too, so guests know your rules are for a reason. For example, explain that your quiet hours are for the sake of your neighbors who have to work in the morning.
Here is where you include your top suggestions for grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, local attractions, public transportation, nearest ATMs, etc. Focus on including just one or two of each, along with an explanation of why you like it—no need to try to compete with Google and TripAdvisor!
Include nearby emergency services, including the address for the nearest hospital, urgent care center, and veterinarian if you’re pet-friendly.
Most of us have at least one natural disaster in our area, so offer an emergency preparedness plan, as well (evacuate? head to the basement?). Outline the location of any emergency supplies you provide (flashlights, bottled water), and/or the address for the nearest shelter/evacuation route, if applicable.
Not sure where to start? Many destinations have emergency preparedness plans, designated evacuation routes, and even preparedness apps. Consult these and show guests for how to access them, as well.
There’s no shortage of tools and options out there for making an Airbnb welcome book. Many hosts or property managers using their own solutions via a static PDF and printed book.
Tools like Canva make this easy! You can import a template, create your welcome book document and make a unique design in just a few hours without hiring a designer. Many Airbnb hosts are using just printed-out plain instructions as well, using a simple document editing tool like Google Docs or Word.
However, the rise of digital guest welcome books can make your property management or hosting life a lot easier! Digital welcome books have smarter features like always-on access via a bookmarked link or mobile app-like pages.
As we mentioned, your welcome book is like your handshake. Come across as friendly, welcoming, accessible, and invested in their good time, and guest will reward you with good reviews. Professionalism is key, here!
Bonus: you can use your welcome book to steer guests toward booking directly with you next time, rather than using Airbnb, Vrbo, etc.
If you have a bookings-enabled website, drop the web address and let guests know that they can save on OTA traveler fees by booking with you!
Ready to get started on your welcome book? Get in touch with us and we’ll build you a template for your guidebook with a copy and style that fits you.