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.
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
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.)
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