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Why a Welcome Message (and Gift) Matters

We all know that cleanliness and good reviews are strong drivers of revenue for vacation rentals.  But one of the ways good reviews start is with a welcome note, and when it makes sense, a welcome gift.  Let’s talk about why both matter.

Why a Welcome Note?

We have watched vacation rentals commodify over the last decade.  Listings are becoming more standardized as platforms strive to create a recognizable baseline for all potential customers to experience.  The good side of that?  All listings have towels and toilet paper.  The bad side of that?  Feeling like you’re basically in a variation of a hotel room, lacking the same character and warmth.

A welcome note changes that narrative.  It says, right there in pen and ink, that a fellow human being is welcoming another human being.  Such notes can’t be scaled or automated.  Even if they are very short they can touch an incoming guest as proof that someone still cares.

What’s in a Welcome Note?

An easy way to personalize the note is simply to look up your guest’s profile.  You can see where they are from, perhaps what they do, and most importantly, where they have visited, and the sorts of reviews they have received from other hosts.  This is all easy fodder for you to pull from in writing a personal note:

  • You could mention a personal connection or something you like about where they live
  • You could share a love for a place they have already visited, and/or suggest another place they should visit
  • You can take an interest they have shown on previous visits and tie it into your property, e.g. “I see you like hiking and here are a couple good trails to try around here…”

If you’re not finding much inspiration from their profile or reviews, you can always mention what might be happening locally, whether that’s a special event or something that’s always worth going to.

If you live in a quieter area where people specifically go to avoid crowds (and people in general) recommend something that makes sense for the time of year, e.g. “The creek bed is dry this time of year so it’s a very quiet place to walk…”  It’s okay if this is something you already mention in a guide to the property.  You can never repeat good tips often enough?

What About a Welcome Gift?

While the classic example is a bottle of wine, we shy away from that because it can get expensive and not everyone drinks.  Easier (and less expensive) options include:

  • Fruit
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate

Locally-sourced versions of all these are even better.  If you want to reach out to local merchants and let them know you have a vacation rental, you might even be able to get coupons for their services, e.g. massage, photography, tours.

Don’t Forget the Guest Book

One of the advantages of a welcome message is priming: by offering a warm welcome, you’re preparing the guest to have a great time.  The same is true of leaving a guest book with your welcome message and/or gift: you’re showing the guest how many other people have had a good time here before, so of course they are going to have a good time too!

It’s vacation rental listings that know how to make guests feel special and welcomed that get great reviews, and those great reviews translate into higher demand and more revenue.  So often in vacation rentals, as in life, it’s the details that matter.

This content originally appeared in our twice-monthly Guest Book newsletter.

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