Airbnb 6 mins read

The Airbnb Guidebook and Alternatives: Create a 5-Star Experience

By August 6, 2019 October 20th, 2021 No Comments
Alternatives to the Airbnb guidebook

A guidebook in your vacation rental is a special touch that offers guests the resources needed to understand the property and get a feel for the local area. For you, the owner, it improves the guest experience and helps you get a 5-star review.

There’s a guidebook feature available on Airbnb, but many owners are looking for something more customizable to their property. Let’s explore a few Airbnb guidebook alternatives that will make your rental stand out.

An overview of the Airbnb guidebook features

Guidebooks have become commonplace in the vacation rental industry. Guests expect owners to help them take advantage of everything the home and local area has to offer. To help them, hosts started leaving physical guidebooks describing what the area had to offer and the rules of the house.

The trend caught on quickly. Guests enjoyed the personal touch. Owners, on the other hand, realized how much time it saved. Guidebooks answered guest questions then and there instead of having to deal with late-night phone calls.

Being responsive to industry trends, Airbnb created a guidebook feature on their platform. Gone are the days of 3-ring binders left on a dusty shelf or on the coffee table.

The Airbnb guidebook feature allows guests to browse restaurants, shopping districts, entertainment venues, and other things to do in the nearby area. It also allows homeowners to break down the house rules and explain the unique features of the property guests should know about.

Free comes with its limits

The Airbnb guidebook is an excellent free tool but it has its limits. Although it’s powered by Google Places (which makes it really accurate and updates regularly), your recommendation can’t be customized with an image of your choice.

What does this mean for you? Businesses usually tailor their Google Places featured image for locals, not visitors from another city. They usually choose an image that locals can relate to make their listing more relatable.

To create a stronger guest experience, you might want to have a warm picture of inside the venue as opposed to, for example, the outside of the venue.

Airbnb guidebooks are also limited in how they can be customized and tailored to make your property stand out. Think about it: it’s a feature that’s available to the 4,000,000 other listings. If you don’t want to look cookie-cutter, you’ll need something different.

Alternative to the Airbnb guidebook feature

Luckily there are great options that offer more oomph than the standard Airbnb guidebook feature. Combining one or more of these alternatives is a great way to enhance the guest experience, stand out and get consistent great ratings.

#1: One link and app-free guidebooks

Almost all vacationers bring a smartphone on their trips. Owners are piggybacking on this trend and creating guidebooks in Word, Google Docs and even the classic .pdf file.

This is a great alternative to the Airbnb guidebook feature because it’s highly customizable. But there’s one major drawback: not all devices display these documents properly. You could spend hours creating the niftiest full-page graphic but if it doesn’t load quickly or look good on a small screen, guests won’t be impressed.

Hostfully offers a comprehensive guidebook option that solves this issue. The guidebook builder is easy to use and highly customizable. But what sets this platform apart is how guests interact with it. It loads without needing to install an extra app! All they need is one link to click on and the guest book will load in their browser.

#2: Region-specific specialty items

In order to help the guests get an authentic experience in a new area, some homeowners leave regional specific specialty items in the home for guests to eat or drink. A quick note lets guests know where they can get more of it.

This works on two levels. First, it helps guests feel like home right away. Second, guests will likely leave a positive review because they’ll feel the need to reciprocate from having received something for free.

The items can be something as simple as a coupon for the pizza place down the street, or samples from a local winery. If the guests can visit where the item was made, it also gives them an extra activity to do that may be off the beaten path.

#3: Video guidebook

One creative option is to post a QR code that a guest can scan at the front door of the rental. Once the QR code is scanned, a video pops up with the host welcoming them in. Guests get an in-depth virtual tour of the house and the video ends with local recommendations.

While this may seem like a lot of work for the technologically-challenged, it’s not that complicated. Connect with a local videographer that can film with drones. Show him or her the nearby hotspots and the rest is hands-off.

This sort of high-tech guide book version caters to the modern traveler who appreciates innovative amenities. It may not be the best option for cottage or “off the grid” retreats.

#4 Electronic guidebooks

While there is something classic about flipping through the pages of a physical guidebook, the electronic alternative may be more appealing for tech-savvy traveler.

Some homeowners leave tablets in the rental packed with information the guests need. But what makes tablets great is if your house has technology integrated into it. A tablet is a good way to make those features readily available and hassle-free for the guests.

This type of guide book can be easily updated by the owner. It’s also less prone to wear and tear than its physical alternative with paper pages. Unfortunately, tablets are big ticket items which could break if mishandled. If your property caters to young families or competes on thin profit margins, you may want to consider cheaper options.

#5 Electronic photo frames 

One creative alternative to the Airbnb guidebook feature is to leave an electronic photo frame with all the information guests need. These photos rotate every 30 to 45 seconds and can be changed by the owner at any time.

You can set up multiple folders specific for the type of guests that will be staying in the home. For instance, if your incoming guests are a family with small children, you can program the frame to showcase activities that will appeal to these types of families.

Wrapping things up

If you want to create an authentic guest experience, consider adding alternatives to the Airbnb guidebook.

Whether you choose a classic paper, internet-based, video or combination of these guidebook alternatives, your guests will be thankful for the effort you put into improving their stay.