Putting together a welcome book for your vacation rental doesn’t need to be labor intensive or a difficult task but it is a critical element that contributes to your guests overall experience so some thought and planning should go in to making it.
The vacation rental game is succeeding in large part because people want a more local, personal experience. They want to visit the grocery stores, restaurants, bars, bakeries, etc in your neighborhood just like the locals. Your welcome book is that guide for them.
Why have a welcome book?
First and foremost, it allows you to answer questions that guests might have about your place. Anything about technical issues from how to use the HVAC, TV or bluetooth speakers, if parties are allowed, and how do they get a hold of someone if there’s an issue. You can quickly anticipate common questions about your place and put it all in your Welcome Book.
You should also be using it to show off your neighborhood. After all, people typically choose vacation rentals to get a more local experience. Have a favorite dive bar around the corner or a must-do hike in the city? Your welcome book is where you can guide your guests to have a more intimate experience in the destination.
Anything you can do to anticipate your guests needs and show them that you care about their experience will go a long way to making their stay a great one - and will drive better reviews.
What You Should Include In Your Welcome Book
Let’s start at the beginning… your welcome book is an opportunity to welcome your guest! Start with a personalized welcome, and a few high level “must know” items. Just like when you get a welcome note from a hotel General Manager at check in, a note from you lets your guests know that you’re a real person who cares about them having a great experience.
Think about what else people should know - and remember that no one knows your place like you do so what might seem obvious could be frustrating for a guest. Is there a door that sticks, or a lock that you need to jiggle before unlocking (hopefully you get that stuff fixed) but if not, put it in the guidebook so people know how to handle it.
Don’t forget about your contact information AND local emergency numbers.
Your guests are more likely to follow your property policies if they are included in your welcome book. You should send these ahead of time but make sure these are also in your manual. People don’t like surprises so be up front about everything.
Even if you send a pre-stay email, those often go unread so include specifics like parking instructions or quiet hours on the patio so everyone is on the same page.
Make sure to also include the following:
Check-In and Check-Out Procedures
House Rules (smoking policy, pet policy, quiet hours)
Any other Complex or Community Rules
In spite of all this, it’s inevitable that some guests will ignore the rules. Having your policies in both your pre-stay communication AND your welcome book puts you in a better position to enforce your rules and resolve a dispute with your guest.
When guests can’t figure out how use an appliance or the gas fire pit they get frustrated, and they often take that frustration out when writing a review of their stay. After all, you need those five star reviews! Even if everything is working perfectly, a guest spending 10 minutes trying to figure out how to use the gas stove detracts from your hard work.
Put any helpful instructions about your property in the welcome book. Things like:
Property access codes (lockbox code, garage code, gate)
How to use the thermostat
Hot tub or fireplace instructions
Tricky kitchen appliances
WiFi Access (including the password)
A/V set up including streaming service instructions
Finally, add what makes your place special. All of the shops, little alleys and hideaways, must see attractions and your favorite dish at that Italian spot on the corner. This is why people choose to stay with you instead of at a hotel - those moments of inspiration and emotional connections that will enhance their visit more than you can imagine.
Organizing Your Welcome Book
We’ve covered a lot of ground here. There will be a ton of information in your book and you want it to be readable and easy to find. The best way to do this is write it all out and section it in a binder for easy navigation. If you follow along our Welcome Book template you’ll be all set. You can customize it anyway that makes sense for your property.
This book will go a long way to showing your guests that you care about their experience and will allow them to get the most out of their visit. It will also set you up for a five star review! Win-Win.