When a guest stays in your vacation rental, you want them to feel at home. Few things do this better than a welcome pack. They’re a means of enhancing your customers’ experience – and that translates to better reviews. In this article, we’ll go over the vacation rental science that goes into a proper welcome pack.
What is a vacation rental welcome pack?
A vacation rental welcome pack is a selection of gifts that serve as a warm welcome to your guests. It can be a mix of necessities, specialty snack foods, or even essentials travelers forget most often. They include instructions on how to enjoy the rental and contain local recommendations (usually in a guidebook format). Welcome packs are a means of elevating the guest experience the moment they walk into your vacation rental.
The hard truth: There’s no universal ideal guest package
The reality of vacation rental welcome packs is that they vary according to the property. You may have seen examples of nicely compiled packages on Pinterest, but do they fit in with your rental? There is no set way to create a guest package, but the one you put together should match not only the space and the season but also your brand. If your guests walk into your space and are faced with a pack that clashes with the vibe of your property, you can bet they’ll talk about it and maybe even bring it up in their review.
When looking to build the best welcome pack for your guests, there are three variables you need to consider. Keep these in mind, and you’ll have a vacation rental welcome pack that guests will appreciate (and probably help you get that 5-star review).
#1: Information, instructions, and recommendations
Most of your guests will be coming from out of town. They’ll need help getting situated. That may mean finding a nearby eatery, getting directions to a popular local venue, or even simple instructions like knowing how to turn on the hot tub. A great way to convey this information to guests is through a digital guidebook.
Why guests will appreciate a fantastic guidebook: When you provide your guests with a thorough guidebook, you take away the guesswork and uncertainty that comes from just arriving in an area. Guests won’t have to scour the internet looking for an excellent local restaurant. A digital guidebook will also help your guests take advantage of smart technologies in your vacation rental.
#2: Travel essentials, and home basics
You’ve likely been on the road before and realized too late that you forgot something important. Think about how your guests will feel if they’re in the same situation but arrive to a welcome pack full of vacation rental essentials.
When putting together these essentials, pretend like you’re packing for a vacation. Put together some of the items you’d bring. You’d likely include the following items:
- Travel-size toothpaste
- Spare toothbrushes
- Cotton swabs and pads
- A blow dryer
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Hand and body lotion
The list above is just the basics. If you want to step it up a notch, you can include extra items like bath salts or bubble bath, aloe cream (in sunny climates susceptible of causing sunburns), single-use face wipes (also for warm weather). Of course, not every item has to be a toiletry. Don’t forget to stock your pantry with kitchen basics like:
- Locally roasted coffee and tea
- Milk or cream
- Basic condiments (salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard)
- Spices unique to the area
Considering the day and age we’re in, don’t forget to include universal smartphone chargers (Apple and Android). If you receive international guests or business travelers, you should also include a universal adapter. When they forget theirs, you’ll be their hero.
An alternative: You can certainly provide some of the basics for your guests. But you also don’t want to break the bank on giving away stuff they don’t need but will take with them. So instead, you can upsell these items via the Digital Guidebook Marketplace.
Why guests will appreciate the on-site essentials: Convenience is one thing your guests won’t forget. If you save them from having to find a store and buying the items they didn’t bring, you’re going to leave a lasting impression.
#3: Consumable items
Think about how your guests likely spent the bulk of their day traveling, living off airplane peanuts or pretzels, or cafeteria food. Finding delicious treats when guests arrive at the vacation rental will be a welcome relief from that bland food they’ve been eating. Leaving snacks in the welcome pack also gives guests something to munch one when they’re out of the rental.
Why guests will appreciate consumable items: It’s another aspect that shows you care. Snacks and small treats are a delightful surprise. Guests know it’s not something you have to do, so they’ll appreciate that you had the forethought to give them something welcoming and comforting.
Remember to go local: If you want to step it up a notch, skip the big chain grocery stores and try to source the same consumable items locally. This will boost the guest experience by providing local products to taste. It’s also a great way to promote local vendors and play your part in being eco-conscious.
What do you include in your vacation rental welcome pack?
Just like any other aspect of your welcome pack, there is no defined set of snacks you should include but here are a few points to consider:
The local goods produced in the area around the vacation rental
Do you live in an area that’s known for something? Then leave snacks or consumables made in the local area. For instance:
- Florida Keys: Key lime pie or treats based on Key limes
- Napa Valley: A bottle of wine and a local cheese
- Up-state New York: Treats made from maple syrup
Whatever you choose to include, mention in the welcome pack that the items come from the immediate area around the vacation rental. Ideally, you should select treats produced in facilities guests can later tour.
- The branding of the property: Everything you include in your welcome pack should line up with the branding of your property. If you’re going for something more rustic, maybe leave something like granola and trail mix. You can even get fancy and leave custom colored hard candies to match your decor.
- The season guests are arriving in: Whatever snacks you leave in your vacation rental, keep them seasonal. Guests shouldn’t feel like you’re just trying to get rid of last season’s treats. But If it’s around the holidays, peppermint sticks and hot chocolate are a great option. In the summer, stick to light and fruity snacks, even fresh fruit from a local orchard. In the fall, think “Pumpkin Spice Latte” and design your snacks around that theme.
- The gifts need to be proportional to the nightly rate: This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you don’t want to come across as cheap if you’re leaving dollar store snacks for a higher-end luxury rental. On the other, if your nightly rate is considerably lower, you don’t want to blow much of your earnings on snacks and gifts. Keep your nightly rate in mind when choosing appropriate gifts. For those operating mid to high-priced properties, you’ll have to spend a bit more and buy brand-named instead of generic. It should also be standard for a guest to find a bottle of local wine in a vacation rental priced $200 a night and up.
While building a welcome pack has a lot of variables, some tips can help you best utilize it to attract more guests.
- Make mention of your welcome pack in your listing: The welcome pack doesn’t have to be a surprise. Mention it in your listing to give your guests another reason to book with you. If they’re deciding between similar properties that are all around the same cost, they’ll go with the rental that offers that little something extra.
- Take pictures of the local food or products you leave for guests: Mentioning the welcome pack is one thing. Providing them with crisp and clear images of what you’re leaving them is even more enticing. Seeing it helps them better visualize how your welcome pack could enhance their stay. Especially if it’s a matter of showcasing some of the local treats they’ll get to enjoy.
- Don’t offer items susceptible to trigger common allergies: It’s difficult to keep track of, but it’s best not to add snacks known to trigger allergies. Peanuts are high on that list. If it’s a local delicacy and you feel it’s something that should be included, put a warning in your digital guestbook or as part of the welcome pack.
It may seem like a small gesture, but a welcome pack can really elevate your guest’s experience. Take some time as you’re prepping your rental property to think of the best welcome pack, and it will pay off with glowing reviews and return customers.