The welcome book is one of the most essential amenities you can provide in your vacation rental, but it can be time-consuming and labor-intensive to produce.
Your guests chose to stay in a vacation rental in no small part because they wanted a more personal experience. They wanted to visit local shops and restaurants, check out the local attractions, and walk through the neighborhood to the grocery store just like locals do.
Your welcome book is going to help them do all of that and more. That’s why we’re walking you through everything you should include in one and we’ve also created a free Welcome Book template that you can download and customize for your property.
What’s a Welcome Book?
Welcome books are a compilation of resources about your property, your neighborhood, and the local attractions you would recommend to your guests. They can be as simple – or as fancy! – as you like.
Welcome books make it easy for your guests to make full use of your property. If there’s no obvious resource for figuring out how to use the TV remote, they may get frustrated. When they know there are instructions for just about everything in the welcome book, they’ll be likely to check there first and avoid that frustration altogether – giving them a much more pleasant and stress-free stay.
Welcome books also cut out the guesswork of deciding where to eat or what to visit. Your guests won’t have to try three mediocre restaurants before finding a great one – you can send them to the best meal of their stay right out of the gate! You’ll get the credit not only for providing your guests a wonderful place to stay, but for all the wonderful experiences they had in your area.
Finally, welcome books let your guests know you care about the quality of their stay. Your personal recommendations and advice on how to make the best use of your property give your guests the friendly engagement they’re looking for while protecting the personal space they were seeking when they chose a vacation rental.
There are lots of benefits for you as an owner, too. Your guests are likely to reward your thoughtfulness with great reviews, you’ll get fewer questions during your guests’ stay, and you’ll be sending business to your favorite local shops and restaurants, ensuring they thrive!
Welcome books benefit everyone. So how do you make a great one?
What Should You Include in Your Welcome Book?
Personal Welcome Note
First and foremost, your welcome book is an opportunity to, well, welcome your guest!
Many travelers choose vacation homes over hotels because they’re looking for a sense of personal connection they won’t find in a hotel. Arriving to a note from the owner of their rental lets them know you’re a real person who cares about them having a great time during their stay.
Making visitors feel at home will put them at ease, and help them have a more enjoyable stay at your property. Including a thoughtful welcome letter at the beginning of your book is the perfect way get travelers excited about their decision to reserve your property.
Helpful Local Contacts
Make sure your welcome book provides at least one name, telephone number and email for a local contact near your property. This person can be you, a local property manager, or even a neighbor — but they should be easily reachable, and available to come to the home on short notice.
Your guests will feel much more at ease knowing that there’s someone they can contact if they can’t locate the towels or if there’s an issue with one of your appliances. If you’d rather they contact one person for emergencies and a different person with questions about the property, make sure they know which is which.
You will also want to include contact details and addresses for the following resources:
- Nearest Medical Clinic or Hospital
- Fire Department
- Police Department
When you’re traveling, you don’t have any of the resources you would typically have at home. If you’re a parent and your child has an allergic reaction, knowing exactly where to bring them for medical care is reassuring. Make sure your guests know you’ve got their safety in mind.
Your Property’s Policies
You may already send instructions on your property’s policies to your guests ahead of time (Evolve does!) but you’ll want to reiterate those policies in your welcome book.
Guests don’t always thoroughly read the instructions for your property in a pre-stay email because they can’t visualize how they’ll be using them. For example, if your parking instructions say “please park along the side of the house facing the lake,” they won’t know which side that is until they arrive at the house.
Including your property policies in your welcome book makes it more likely your guests will see and implement them when they are most relevant. The welcome book also gives your guests a handy reference whenever they forget one of the instructions you provided.
You should include all of the following information in your Welcome Book:
- Check-In Procedures
- House Rules (smoking policy, pet policy, quiet hours)
- Parking Instructions
- Check-Out Procedures
- Subdivision/Complex/Community Rules
While we hope all of your guests abide by your policies, inevitably a few will choose to ignore the rules. Including your policies in your welcome book means your guests will have a very difficult time arguing that they weren’t aware of them.
Include your policies in both your pre-stay email and your welcome book, and you can be assured that you can enforce your rules and come to a satisfactory resolution in any dispute with your guests.
You already know how to use your thermostat – but odds are, your guests have a very different thermostat at home. The same goes for your appliances, your electronics, and your entry method, so let’s make sure your guests know how to use all of them.
When your guests can’t figure out how to turn on the hot tub, they get frustrated, and they can wind up taking out that frustration in their review of your property. Even if every appliance works perfectly, spending 15 minutes figuring out how to use it is no one’s idea of a fun vacation. Make getting to know your property easy on your guests, and they’ll have a hassle-free stay.
Include helpful instructions for your:
- Property Access (lockbox code, garage code, gate)
- Hot tub or Fireplace
- Washer and Dryer
- Kitchen Appliances
- Wireless Internet Access (including the password!)
- TV or DVD Player Remote Control
This is also a good place to note any quirks of your property. For example, if the Wifi works very well all over the house, but not in the family room downstairs, make sure your guests know that. If they aren’t expecting an issue, they’ll be annoyed by it, but with a little forewarning, they’ll feel like they know exactly what they can expect, and it’s less likely to trouble them.
Where to Go and What to Do
One of the most significant amenities that travelers forego in order to stay in a vacation rental is the concierge service commonly offered by hotels. As a vacation rental owner you can easily take on the concierge role, impress travelers, and keep ’em coming back — with little effort on your part!
Everyone loves a good recommendation from a local. While your guests may already have a planned itinerary, they’ll likely add in an activity or a local business to visit when they see your recommendations.
Try to suggest activities that would appeal to a range of guest types, such as family-friendly activities or romantic places for a dinner out. You want a little something for everyone so that all of your guests feel catered to.
Be sure to give addresses and phone numbers for each of your recommendations to make it easy for your guests to find them. Adding the amount of time it takes to get to the destination is a great idea, too. Include at least a suggestion or two in each the following categories:
- Grocery Stores
- Activities (hikes, golf, snorkeling, skiing)
- Attractions (museums, monuments, parks, beaches)
- Places of Worship
We highly recommend telling your guests where you personally enjoy going. If you recommend a restaurant or an activity that you haven’t tried yourself, you run the risk of sending them on an experience that isn’t as good as you might hope.
This isn’t to say you can’t include popular attractions you haven’t visited in person. Just let your guests know that you haven’t tried them yourself, but you’ve heard good things and you hope they’ll tell you how they liked them! You can then use the guest feedback to gauge whether that activity merits a mention in your Welcome Book.
How to Get Around
Make it easier for guests to explore your area by providing local transportation information in your welcome book. Be sure to include contact info, directions, schedules and any other details that guests might find helpful. Important transportation options to include:
- Taxi & Shuttle Services
- Bus Routes
- Car Rentals
- Airports and Train Stations
- Area Maps
You don’t need to include all of the above, especially if you’re in an area where a certain type of transportation isn’t relevant. If no bus services your neighborhood, then the bus schedule isn’t likely to be of use. However, you’ll rarely go wrong making sure your guests have as many options as possible for getting around!
How Should You Organize Your Welcome Book?
That’s a lot of information to include! How can you make sure it’s easy for your guests to navigate your welcome book and find the information they need right away?
Many owners use a simple three-ring binder containing flyers, brochures, and one-sheet descriptions of local shops and attractions they think their guests might enjoy. If you go this route, we recommend separating your sections with tabs so that your guests can find the relevant sections quickly.
We’ve also created a free Welcome Book Template that you can download and customize. Our template makes it easy to put together a great welcome book without spending a lot of time and money. Your guests will love to get the inside scoop on how to get the most out of their stay, and they’re sure to reward your efforts with rave reviews and repeat stays! Just enter your email in the form below to get your free, customizable copy.
Get The Welcome Guide
Happy guests leave positive reviews and make repeat reservations. Make your guests happy with a warmer welcome that tells them everything they need to know about your vacation rental.
Have you already created a welcome book? What did you include in yours? We’d love your tips for great information to include!
Evolve makes it easy for you to provide the personal touch your guests are looking for – without the hassle of managing your vacation rental on your own. To learn how Evolve makes vacation rental easy for homeowners, click here or call us at 877.881.7584.