When offering a place to stay for travelers, a vacation rental guest book can help them better enjoy a personalized experience. It reduces the many headaches that can come with long-distance travel and provides insight into your home and the local area.
By building a unique guest book, you’re personalizing the rental experience and providing mission-critical property information to your guests. Ultimately, this will help you stand out, reduce time answering common questions, and get that precious 5-star review.
What is a vacation rental guest book?
A vacation rental guest book is a warm welcome to your home. It provides guests with information that helps enjoy the rental and eases the worries that come with staying in an unfamiliar place. A guest book also provides specific details about the house, including:
- Directions to get there
- House rules
- WiFi password
- Check-in procedures
- How to use the home
A guest book also provides information about the local area such as restaurants and places to visit. A guest book will also often include a list of emergency locations, such as a hospital or an emergency care clinic.
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Airbnb offers a free guest book experience
Guest books are so common that Airbnb has a guidebook feature built into its platform. With the Airbnb version, guests can browse local eateries and shopping districts and get an overview of the local area. There’s also specific information about the rental space, but this free service isn’t infallible.
Airbnb’s guest book isn’t overly customizable to the property. This means homes with special features can’t stand out. Searching for local recommendations is also a chore as search parameters can’t be set. In big cities, this means scrolling through hundreds of options.
There are alternatives to the Airbnb guest book
Since Airbnb’s vacation rental guest book can be limiting, you may be on the lookout for alternatives. Luckily, they exist. For example, Hostfully offers a free service that lets homeowners build and customize their own guest book. It’s designed from the ground up to make your property stand out with:
- Customizable branding for a professional look
- One link that goes directly to your guest book
- Seamless experience across all platforms
- Fully responsive experience on any website
In other words, Hostfully give you the option to offer guests a 5 Star experience and stand out from the crowd! If you want to find out more, check out this webinar!
Does your vacation rental need a guest book?
While a guest book is completely optional, it’s become a staple of the vacation rental industry. On the surface, it may seem like extra work. But guide books also have benefits for you:
Answer guest questions before they ask them
It’s inevitable that guests will have questions about the property. Typically, they would reach out to you directly. But you can’t be available 24/7 which guests could take as a sign that you’re not invested in the quality of their stay.
With a guest book, they’ll have the answers without having to contact you. Not only does this save you time, it also improves the guest experience. Unlike a printed edition, with a digital guest book, you can easily edit it if you notice there’s frequently asked questions you didn’t cover in past versions.
A digital guest book is always with the guests
If you go with a digital guest book, your vacation rental guest book will be fully accessible wherever guests go. This can help when they’re out sightseeing and need a few recommendations on the fly. If they’re away from the rental and want to grab a bite to eat, they can pull up your guest book.
Having access to your guest book helps create an immersive experience that reminds them of the high-quality rental they’re spending their vacation in.
Creates a branded experience that promotes returning guests
What’s missing from the Airbnb platform is the ability to create a branded experience. When your guest book has a unique logo and a specific appearance, guests feel like they’re staying in a boutique hotel. Your brand can be customized for a look that will stand out among the rest.
Those that had a memorable experience are sure to recognize your brand, which means returning and referred guests. Additionally, with a brand, guests can pass along information more easily and point future guests your way.
What should be included in a great guest book?
Frequent renters have come to expect a specific template. Here’s the minimum of what’s expected in the industry:
Start with a strong welcome note
Unlike a hotel, you don’t have an ornate lobby to woo your guests when they first arrive. That’s why you have to leave some sort of welcome note.
Personalized welcome notes (which are the first thing guests see in guest books) help renters feel welcome in a stranger’s home. It should speak for your home and match the style and tone of the property. If it’s a soothing log cabin with a crackling fireplace, the note should exhibit peacefulness and serenity. For more eccentric homes, a livelier welcoming note filled with jokes and playful language will be best.
With Hostfully guest books, you can also create a splash screen that introduces the property and collects contact information of all the guests staying in your rental.
Are there any specific check-in policies? Do guests need to contact you upon arrival? Will you meet them at the property? If so, these should be part of your arrival logistics. Any detail that is specific to when your guests first show up should be detailed early on in the guest book.
Since guests will have access to the guest book before their visit, this can help speed up the check-in process. A speedier check-in kicks off their stay on a good note.
You should also include directions from the airport, train or bus stations for both public transit and driving. If Uber and Lyft aren’t allowed in your area, let the guest know where to grab a cab.
List important numbers and the wifi password
In many cases, your guests will be from out of town and will have no knowledge of the immediate area. It’s important to leave emergency contact information such as:
- Local law enforcement
- Fire department
- Other emergency services such as emergency care clinics
You should also leave a primary and alternate number you can be reached at in case of emergencies. If a toilet clogs, you don’t want the guests to mull over the inconvenience until the end of their stay. It can also prevent minor issues from escalating to major damage to your property.
Almost as important is the WiFi network name and password. If you offer free WiFi, write the steps to connect to your network. Include additional passwords as needed, such as alarms or the safe combination (if there is one).
What are the rules and policies of your property?
Guests need to know what is permitted and not in your home. Rules may sound like a buzzkill, but they’re important to protect your property. Things that you may mention include:
- Smoking policies
- Pet policies
- Rules for additional guests and visitors
- Prohibited areas in the home
Don’t leave anything off. If it’s a rule you want your guests to stick to, protect yourself and put it in the vacation rental guest book. If it’s not mentioned, they won’t know. Explicitly mention possible penalties for breaking the rules or cleaning fees.
Explain how your rental works
No two homes are the same. You’ll want to list unique features and additional perks of the property. Consider this part your “how to…” guide of your home, which can include instructions on adjusting the thermostat, turning on a pool’s water features, or even working lights throughout your home.
Offer experiences only a local would know about
To make your guest’s stay more pleasurable, provide a list of local attractions and activities, popular dining spots, and bars or nightclubs. Avoid giving them the touristy venues though. Include some of your favorite locations and point them to the establishments that locals love.
Not everyone wants to eat out every night, especially if they have access to a kitchen. Include directions to local grocers, gourmet food shops and convenience stores.
What is the checkout process?
Much like the arrival logistics, this section will cover how your guests will check out of the property. Is there a key they need to drop off? Will you meet them at the property to send them off or inspect the home before departure? What’s the procedure for towels and sheets?
Be clear in your instructions so there is no confusion come the last day of their vacation.
Example of an expert guidebook
Now that you know what a vacation rental guest book should contain, it may help to see one in action. This guidebook is a great example and is exactly what a guest would see once you share with them the link.
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Notice that all the basic arrival information is clearly laid out and easy to understand. There are also many recommendations for restaurants, activities, shopping, and activities.
Try writing your own guest book for free
Ready to get started on your guest book? It’s completely free to try one. Get started on your personalized guidebook and start providing guests with everything they need to know about your home and the local area!