Warmly welcoming guests helps build a great first impression. Such a small gesture inevitably leads to more 5-star reviews for your vacation rental properties. But if you’re unavailable for in-person greetings, a vacation rental welcome letter is an easy way to help guests feel at home. Let’s look at what a good welcome letter looks like and how you should use them at your rental properties.
The importance of a vacation rental welcome letter
A welcome letter extends a warm, personal greeting to your guests. They’re likely to have high expectations for their stay, and giving them an early reason to smile will lay the groundwork for a memorable experience.
The vacation rental welcome letter is essential if you use multi-channel distribution as a marketing tactic. One of the many sites you get bookings from might not have the option of leaving a welcome note to the guest. For this reason, you’ll need to take control of first impressions.
Optimizing the look and feel of your welcome letter
The look, feel, and format of a welcome letter are important and should be one of your first considerations. Think about the following points:
- Delivery format: A handwritten letter is unrealistic due to time constraints. Printed is out of fashion, especially in a post-pandemic world. That leaves us with digital, which lends itself well to automated guest pre-arrival communication flows. Email and digital guidebooks are going to be your best bet for success compared to a URL leading to a wall of text on your website.
- Look and feel: The welcome letter is a great way to showcase your company’s branding and set the tone that the guest is staying with a professional host. Remember to create an image header for your welcome letter with your logo, fonts, and color palette.
The core components of a welcome letter
A well-written welcome letter will include the following critical information:
- Welcome guests and make them feel at home.
- Provide key information about your rental.
- Reference that there are house rules to respect.
- List your contact information.
- Mention insider tips and other details.
- Thank the guests for their stay.
Let’s explore how to fit all of that in a small package!
Start by building your digital guidebook
Before you get creative and start writing, it’s important to have all the guest experience elements thought out. House rules, directions, local amenities, and what makes your properties great are your big considerations.
We recommend starting with your guidebook since it’s less text-heavy or creative than the actual writing of the letter. Plus, what’s in the guidebook will form the pillars of your welcome note. Finally, your welcome letter will link to sections of your guidebook. Industry professionals have clued in that by constantly bringing attention to the guidebook; they gently train the guest to look there instead of asking the host a question. It cuts down on guest communication which is an added bonus.
Language and length of your welcome letter
With your guidebook done, it’s time to start working on your email flow.
Vacation rental welcome letters should convey key information in a friendly, welcoming voice. If a letter resembles a lengthy legal document, it will not be read and feel more like a warning than a welcome. In terms of length, here’s what we recommend:
- Limit your welcome letter to a maximum of three core paragraphs.
- Try to keep paragraphs to 2-4 sentences each.
Using clear and concise language will help you convey your message and keep it friendly. You should also avoid using negative words like “don’t” or “not allowed.” Leave that for the house rules section of the digital guidebook. With that in mind, here’s what you should be considering when you write a welcome letter for your guests:
The first paragraph: Welcome to the property
If you’ve automated your property management system for self-check-ins, a well-written welcome letter can be a worthy substitute. Think of the letter (or email) as the stand-in for what you would say to the guests if you were there to greet them.
It’s important to address letters to guests using their first names. If your guests felt they received personalized service, they’re more likely to leave a personal and detailed note in their reviews. For more tips on getting positive reviews, look at our advice on other tactics that work.
Luckily, you can pull the guest’s first name from your PMP’s database. In your trigger & template section, insert the field for the guest’s name (each PMP provider codes this differently):
Your first paragraph should welcome the guest to the specific property they are staying in. As this case study shows, including the name of the property makes the welcome stronger and strengthens the concept that guests are staying in someone’s home.
The first paragraph should also cover the main reason why the guest is staying at your property. Are they likely to be on business, to relax in nature or on the beach, on a family vacation?
The second paragraph: Talk about the local area and the property
Now that you’ve set the tone, describe the property or its location. The second paragraph requires a bit more creativity. What you’re trying to do is bridge the reason for the stay with what you have to offer.
This section of the welcome letter is where the guidebook comes in handy. Think of what’s nearby, and describe it in a sentence or two.
To increase the guest experience, end the paragraph with a sentence inviting the reader to open the guidebook. The URL you include can either lead to the main menu of your guidebook or the section about local recommendations. It all depends on how your pre-arrival communication is set up. For example, if you’ve already had the guest open the guidebook for directions a week before arrival, then link directly to the recommendations page. However, if this is the first time the guest opens the guidebook, have them start from the main menu and discover the sections on their own.
Plenty of choices here and a chance to add value. You could:
- Name drop your favorite beauty spot in the area.
- List a couple of good places for a quick bite on the way to the airport.
- Warn the guest about that nearby highway that always gets jammed with rush-hour traffic.
Aside from sharing useful knowledge of the region, this is another chance to personalize your guests’ experience. Tie your suggestions to what you know about them beforehand. This will all build on the impression that they receive a completely personalized service.
The third paragraph: Invite the guest to enjoy the amenities of the property
After indicating what’s around, mention the amenities or hidden secrets to the property. Focus on one or two key features only. If you start listing all the amenities, your welcome letter will quickly become a word wall that gets hard to read.
Don’t forget a mention about house rules
Since you’re talking about the property’s features, this section of the welcome letter is also a great place to slide in a reference about house rules. There’s no need to go into detail, as brevity is key here. But for example, you could remind them that smoking isn’t permitted. Then use that reminder to segway onto the house rules. Don’t list all the house rules in the welcome letter to remain inviting and warm. Rather, invite the guest to read them in the house manual section of the guidebook.
Going light on the house rules in the welcome letter means that you can outline them more extensively in other places, with the option to have guests review rules remotely and sign an agreement. It goes without saying that you should also avoid any reference to the vacation rental security deposit in this section.
Wrapping up the welcome newsletter: Contact information and address of the rental
Before signing off on a welcome letter, be sure to wish the guest an amazing stay at your property. This reinforces the fact that you care about their experience.
If you’ve shared your contact information with the guest, the welcome letter is another place to leave your name, number, and email address. Sharing this information with the guest on more than one occasion reminds them that you’re there to handle an emergency, address something unsatisfactory, or answer any questions they may have about the vacation rental property.
Welcome letters for luxury vacation rentals
Depending on your average daily rate, customizing each welcome letter for each stay might be a benefit. Customization could help you turn a one-off reservation into a recurring yearly guest. So if you offer a luxury product or deal with lower-volume but high-paying clientele, run the cost-to-benefit of customization. Unfortunately, there isn’t a rule of thumb or ratio to go off here
If you go with the customized route, the points we listed above remain valid. Keep it short, maintain a warm and welcoming tone, and create a habit of referring to the guidebook. What you’ll need to add are the following points:
- Refer back to your customer database and recall that you are happy that the guest came back after X number of months;
- Make a mention of the number of times the guest stayed with you;
- If you have notes on the guest’s preferred activity or reason to stay with you, loop that in too;
- List any upgrades or changes to the property or grounds since the last stay;
- If you left a welcome basket or gift, hint that you left them something special as a token of your appreciation.
Hospitable from the start
You don’t get a second chance at a first impression. The vacation rental welcome letter is the first part of the guest experience and getting it right can make a difference to their perception of your vacation rental property from the get-go.