In today’s vacation rental home market, guests have no shortage of options of places to stay across the nation. Because of that, doing the bare minimum might not give you the results that you’re hoping for, like a booked out holiday season.
There are plenty of ways to advertise and market your home, but there’s nothing better than a good reputation by way of word-of-mouth – both in-person and digitally – and the fastest way to accomplish that is with some good, old-fashioned hospitality.
Communication is key to making your guests feel comfortable, according to Evelyn Badia, who runs the Hosting Journey, a podcast dedicated to teaching proven strategies for running short-term vacation rentals.
“If you are worried about where you’re going to, you’re concerned; you’re not feeling at ease. And feeling at ease is one of the most important things,” she said. “Guests are entering into someone’s home, not a hotel, so it can be weird… Ease their mind with communication.”
Here are some simple tips to make your guests feel at home upon arrival and leave a lasting impression that will have them raving about their vacation to all of their friends:
Communication begins before arrival
Communication starts before a person walks into your house, according to Badia. She said it’s important that your listing accurately describes your home, so there are no surprises when they arrive. If your home has stairs, for example, make sure to list that clearly. Or if there’s construction going on down the street, be transparent about it.
Badia also recommends you make sure they have no lingering questions—like how to enter the home—before they travel. It’s important to be accessible 24/7 in case your guest has any questions – before, during, or after their trip. If you can’t commit to that availability, consider hiring a property manager – like TurnKey – who can.
Greet each new guest when they arrive
If possible, leave a welcome letter for your guest. It’ll make your guest feel welcomed and comfortable in your home. This can be a physical, paper letter or you can include a home tablet with a digital note.
If your guests are coming from a different geographic area, which many of them might be, provide some safety tips about the climate. If your home is in a high altitude area, for example, you should warn your guests about common side effects of the altitude change.
Most importantly, make your guests feel welcome and safe in your rental home. If a physical letter isn’t possible, give them a call once they’ve arrived or shoot off an email the day they are traveling. Guests booking with TurnKey can expect to receive a text the day they check in asking if the house is up to their standards and if they need anything.
Don’t underestimate the power of an awesome welcome book
Heather Bayer, owner of vacation rental home blog Cottage Blogger, says a successful welcome book should be “an attractively laid out, easy to read, structured and friendly manual that makes your guests stay as comfortable as possible.”
Bayer has a comprehensive guide to welcome books on her blog, but the key things a rental homeowner needs to know is that the manual should be designed to catch a guests eye as soon as they enter your home, should list essential information on the first page—like the Wifi password and contact numbers—and contain your list of local recommendations. Additionally, the welcome book can be where you remind your guests of the house rules and instruct them on how to use appliances or entertainment systems around the house.
When you have a comprehensive and understandable guidebook, you’ll notice your guests will have less lingering questions and more time to just enjoy themselves. Feel free to digitize your welcome book like TurnKey does! We include a tablet in each of our homes that has information guests would want while visiting and a way to contact our team if they need anything.
Leave a local gift for when they arrive
Leaving small gifts for your guests is a great way to celebrate your local culture and support a locally-owned business.
Excellent options include personal-sized bags of locally-roasted coffee or wine, candy or baked goods special to the area, and fresh flowers native to your city or state.
If you live in Austin, Texas, for example, you could leave them a pancake mix from Kerbey Lane Cafe, a small bag of locally-roasted coffee from a shop like Anderson’s Coffee, or even a koozie from a local brewery like Celis Beers.
If this sounds a little too lofty or if you don’t visit your property enough to replenish goods, consider partnering with a local business to get coupons to leave with your welcome book.
Additionally – if you’re working with a property manager, don’t be afraid to ask them to put out personalized items for your guests! Some of our TurnKey homeowners will stock up on wine or stationary and ask our housekeeping team to leave some out for each guest, which we’re happy to do. It’s the little things that can make a big difference!
Create an interactive experience through your decor
Purchasing a signable guestbook can be a fun final touch to your decor. Current guests can check out what previous guests personally recommended during their own stays and read what their favorite parts of their vacation were.
Additionally, hang a map where guests can leave a pin on the city they’re visiting from. Seeing the vast number of people who pin the board will make them feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves.
Taking the time to make each of your guests feel welcome at your vacation rental home will help the have a one-of-a-kind, personalized experience that they can’t wait to tell their friends about.