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How to Provide Guests (and Yourself) a Stress-Free Stay

We interviewed dozens of property owners, scoured the boards like Community Airbnb and Quora, talked to hundreds of guests and this is what they all had to say.

Essentials For Your Vacation Rental Home

Superb Directions for an Easy Arrival

The easiest way to start out a sub-par stay is to stress guests out before they even get there. Make sure that directions are easy to follow and are correct on Google and Apple Maps. You may want to give additional pointers, especially if your property is rural, has specific parking instructions or visitors are arriving in the dark. Not all guests need a personalized welcome but make sure your lockbox is easy to access and the instructions can be comprehended by a seven-year-old.

Instructions for the Important Stuff

To you, the working of your thermostat or remote control may be common sense, but for many guests navigating new systems is one frustration they’d prefer to do without. Curb this by providing easy to follow instructions for any in-home technology that guests will have access to.

Welcome Book or Brochure- Details About the Unit and Local

Place this in an area that is in easy reach of the guest like on a coffee table or on the refrigerator. Update it seasonally. Guests are coming for the experiences and prefer not to have to page through a pile of magazines or travel guides to access the best things to do in the area.

The industry must present a cohesive presentation of the “important” stuff -clearly and easily accessible…Guests are more “on their own” in a vacation rental and we must put forth the effort and tools to minimize that feeling.

Eric Mason

Founder, Vacation Rental Professionals Forum

Welcome- Set Yourself Apart

Offer local goods and welcome packages. Be a step ahead of your competition with packages awaiting guests when they arrive. For a hassle-free way to do this check out our packages page. Guests pay, Tailored Stay delivers and you get better reviews!

Stock the Kitchen with Essentials

Did you know that having a kitchen outranks wi-fi and air conditioning when it comes to reasons why people rent a home for their vacation? Travelers want the option to be able to cook for themselves, manage dietary needs and save money on eating out when on vacation. Providing basic cooking supplies like olive oil, salt, pepper and a few spices can go a long way.

[Coming Soon! Guests can order hundreds of grocery and personal care products online @ Tailored Stay]

Cleanliness -Especially Clean Towels and Bedding

You probably have a professional cleaning staff but at the end of the day, you own the cleanliness of your rental unit. On days when there is a tight window from one guest to another, give the cleaning company your priorities. Bathrooms, kitchen, clean bedding [have extras on hand] garbage, floors, flat and reflective surfaces, for example. If the wall pictures don’t get dusted, few of your guests will notice.

Enable your guests to help clean up after themselves. Leave cleaning supplies, garbage bags, paper towels, and a broom or mop in easy reach. Provide coasters and place covers on furniture that you worry about getting stained. Consider adding directions for taking out the trash in your home instructions

House Rules, Easy to See, Repeat Them 

You can make this process fun. Chances are that your guest read them when they booked but that may have been months ago. Find a creative way to get your rules back in front of your guests. Be witty, use humor.

View the gallery of a few of our favorites. 

You can order homemade boards from multiple places online or create your own at a local Board & Brush shop.

Amenities count 

According to a global survey from Airbnb, amenities come in second after accommodations for American travelers. 

Some super hosts leave an iPad with a full music playlist. Others tailor to the location. Ask yourself, What makes sense for you to provide?

Are you near the lake or the beach? Providing a blanket and a cooler or picnic basket could go a long way.

Are the majority of your guests women? Leave makeup wipes and other essential beauty/hygiene items in the bathroom.

Don’t underestimate the value of providing a variety of pillows. Believe it or not, a lot of guests we have spoken to said that pillows, over noise, could make or break the quality of their sleep. Luxury hotel chains like Conrad by Hilton have caught onto this and offer a pillow menu. Some guests prefer old and flat, others prefer fluffy down, others need allergen free.

As trends move quickly towards more and more automation in the Vacation Rental Industry, the personal touch will always be the differentiator

Susan Doull

Owner, Commendable Rentals, Director of Vacation Rental Managers Association

Temperature Control 

Both heat and air conditioning rank in the number ten things guests expect to find at a vacation rental. If you don’t have air conditioning that’s ok but be honest in your description.

Example: “Our home is not equipt with airconditioning but we are steps from the beach/lake. There are most often nighttime breezes and each room is outfitted with a fan, making for a comfortable sleeping environment.”

Most people can handle adverse temperatures during the day. It’s nighttime sleeping conditions that they worry about.

Appliances That Make Their Stay Easy 

A washer and dryer go a long way for traveling families. A dishwasher comes in handy if you want guests to clean up after themselves. 

Amenities That Set The Mood 

Diffuser. Blue tooth speaker. Your guests are here to relax and have fun. Allow them some amenities for their leisure. We recommend –the JBL Bluetooth Waterproof Speaker and Ultimate Aromatherapy Diffuser & Essential Oil Set, both available from Amazon Prime.

 

Coffee, Coffee all the Time 

People are picky about their coffee and they want to know what they are walking into. Do you have a Keurig, a traditional pot or fancy brewing machine? Guests want to know ahead of time so they can gather their preferred flavor. <link to coffee page> We suggest that you put details about your coffee maker in your property description so it’s available for guests and you won’t have to repeat yourself.

Adopt the Mindset of a Business 

Ask yourself, ‘’What can I do to make my listing more attractive?”   The Points Guy suggests that you consider offering coffee and breakfast, at a free or discounted price <see our Rise& Shine package> 

Can you suggest a walking tour or weekly discount for longer stays?

Another take would be to ask, ‘What else will people pay for?’

Can you offer mid-week cleaning for a fee for stays of 4 days or more?

Groceries delivered to your vacation home rental unit?

Your Online Presence Can Make or Break You

 

Truth in Descriptions 

Manage guest expectation by being transparent in your rental descriptions.

Example: “ Play Hard During the Day; Rest Easy at Night. Our neighborhood has a noise ordinance which means that volume is to be kept to a minimum after 10:00 at night. Take advantage of the silence, hear the sounds of nature and get a good night sleep.”

Example: “Our rural hideaway is serviced by a septic tank. Please be conscientious about what you flush. Flanked on all sides by oaks and evergreens, you’ll have that in the deep woods feeling and enjoy a true off the grid experience.” 

Light & Airy Bedroom

Sleeps two with a door right off the master bathroom. Enjoy a skyline view and blackout curtains at night.

Well Equipt Kitchen

Our kitchen is a chef’s dream. Find premium pots & pans, Cutco knives, cutting boards and anything else you need.

Welcome to Our Cabin in the Woods

Sleeps 12 with wrap around veranda for heavenly breezes. Close to Roxborough State Park and  just minutes from Chatfield Lake.

Professional Photography of Your Vacation Rental is Well Worth it

Airbnb sums this up well by saying that, “professional photography pays for itself” 

 

They site that listings with professional photography:

  • Have a 40% increase in earnings
  • See a 24% rise in bookings
  • Can raise their nightly price by 26%

Potential guests who get inspired by a photo are also more likely to click through the rest of your listing.

 

Don’t Count on Platforms to Promote Your Rental Home Profile

Have an individual website and consider a FB page to message guests easily and directly. The appeal of well-known platforms like Airbnb and VRBO is that they make it easy and safe to arrange bookings. That said, you are competing with hundreds, if not thousands, of other properties. In addition, these sites do not allow for direct communication with your guests before they book.

 

Side-step this and take more control by creating your own mini-site to really stand out and deliver the experience you (and potential guests) want online. Welcome repeat guests and manage their bookings independently.

A Great Stay Starts With Great Communication

 Amy, founder of the popular travel blog WhereverWriter shares some examples of what guest communication should like. She advises communicating at the following touchpoints:

  • Directly after the guest books. Say thank-you and let them know that you’ll follow up with more details.
  • Three days before check-in. Send a reminder with home instructions.
  • The day before arrival. Send any additional information about accessing the property and how to get ahold of you or a Property Manager if needed.
  • A few hours after guests check-in. Welcome them and ask if they have everything they need for their stay. This also helps you pre-empt getting bad reviews. By asking, you become aware of any issue and have the chance to work with your guest to overcome it from the start.
  • After guests leave. Thank them and ask for a review.

Keep in Touch 

Platforms like Airbnb now allow you to send Christmas cards. VRBO suggests that you send an email or card to guests who you had a mutually favorable experience with a couple of times a year. 

Procure guest emails by giving them an opt-in option when connecting to Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi marketing is a current buzzword in the hospitality industry. This is when your guest gets directed to a custom splash page (think logging on at Starbucks or Marriott) where you can require an email, ask them to subscribe to a newsletter or direct them to your social media pages.

There are a bunch of companies that offer this service for as low as $25 a month.  Find Wi-Fi Marketing companies here to get started and create a splash page that’s unique to your vacation rental home.

 

Thoughtful Extras

 

Go the Extra Mile to Delight Your Vacation Home Rental Guests

Mar Pages of Once in a Lifetime Journey and Airbnb SuperHost since 2013, has gone the extra mile on many occasions for guests. Sometimes that means providing a bottle of wine and flowers for an anniversary or prepping the kitchen with a blender for a Vegan guest. She says,Of course, this may cost some money and time…But, in return, I got great reviews, appreciation…And there is no better feeling than contributing to someone’s happy holidays and great memories.”

Allow guests to communicate with one another in subtle ways

Add to the fun and adventure of travel for everyone. Simple ways to communicate for the celebration of travel can elevate a guest’s stay and help them feel connected.

 

Provide Information About What Makes Your Location Sought After

Is there a lot of history, did a famous musician grow up there? Write a list of reasons why people travel to your location. Leave them easy access to literature, tours or events that they will likely be interested in. 

Offer Ways for Your Guests to go Off the Grid

Games and books are a handy way to do this and provide entertainment on a rainy day.

Check your local vintage or thrift store for cheap and timeless favorites like Scrabble, Monopoly or even a plain deck of cards. *Barnes & Nobles often has heavily discounted coffee table books as well as affordable classics that your guest may have not gotten around to reading. 

Put Yourself in the Shoes of the Guest

Maybe the best way to do this is to invite someone [a friend or relative] who has never been to your property to navigate directions, instructions and amenities with you in tow. Be a silent partner and let them navigate their way providing feedback at all turns. Have an open mind so you can truly experience your rental from the eyes of a guest.

 

 

 

At the end of the day, your guest is looking for a personalized travel experience and transparency. Remember that they could always go to a hotel and they are choosing to stay with you.

 

 

Give your guest the experience of a Tailored Stay.

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