Vacation rental welcome book template and checklist

How to Create the Perfect Vacation Rental Welcome Book for Your Guests

As a vacation rental host, creating an unforgettable guest experience is key to success. One secret weapon most hosts forget about? A well-crafted vacation rental welcome book.

This essential hosting tool not only guides your guests through their stay but also sets the tone for their entire experience. It can increase guest satisfaction, encourage positive reviews, and even boost return bookings. From must-know details about your property to local recommendations, a good welcome book makes guests feel truly at home. That’s why we’ve created a free vacation rental welcome book template you can download here.

Don’t see the form to download the Welcome Book Checklist? Click here.

Whether you’re creating a simple printed guide or a fully designed vacation rental welcome book, the goal remains the same—providing guests with all the information they need to enjoy their stay. But a great welcome book goes beyond just the basics. It offers that extra touch, like local recommendations or house quirks, that really make your guests feel at home.

And the best part? This isn’t just about guest satisfaction. A comprehensive welcome guest book can also help automate your business, answering common questions and reducing the time you spend answering late-night (or early morning) panicked phone calls from your guests.

If you’re unsure where to start, we’ve outlined all the sections to include and some useful tips for crafting the perfect short-term rental welcome book.

Why do you need a vacation rental welcome book?

From email reminders about upcoming stays to OTA-specific notifications, guests are usually flooded with information about their reservations. Shortly before check-in, they’re also usually greeted with your vacation rental house rules and check-in instructions (or at least they should be if you’re a great host!), meaning it’s easy for them to feel overwhelmed before their stay even starts.

The idea of a vacation rental welcome book, therefore, is to reduce that stress, set the tone for a relaxing holiday, and make your guests feel welcome. When well-written, a great welcome book for vacation rentals is an opportunity to casually greet your new guests while providing them with all the necessary information about their stay.

The welcome book sets the tone for the guest experience throughout the entire stay, so you should also familiarize them with the surrounding area and important information about the town, any local amenities, and other special features that make your vacation rental unique. Consider it an educational yet warm hello.

The benefits of a welcome book for your vacation rental

Providing the right services to your guests from the first moment they enter your vacation rental can really make a difference (and could even improve your repeat guest rate). In fact, one industry report found that friendliness remains essential to positive guest experiences, and other studies have shown that 27% of guests look for restaurant recommendations, while 40% look for recommended food tours of local cuisine.

Of course, there are other significant factors that you need to consider when renting your property to convince guests to choose you over your competition. Things like the cleanliness of the property, your rates, extra services, and all the vacation rental amenities you can provide are very important.

But in this case, the devil really is in the details, especially if you want to ensure your guests have a unique experience. Along with a thoughtful welcome basket, you can help kickstart a stellar stay with the perfect vacation rental welcome book. Here are just a few of the ways in which a guest welcome book can benefit your vacation rental business.

Make your guests feel special

A well-crafted vacation rental welcome book is a personalized touch that shows you’ve taken the time to anticipate your guests’ needs. Remember, they’re trading their hard-earned money and precious time for a vacation house and experience. And by including thoughtful details about the property and local tips, you’re not just providing useful information—you’re creating an experience.

This feeling of being cared for can greatly enhance their stay, making it more memorable and enjoyable.

Chances are, you won’t be there to physically greet your guests, so you’ll want to ensure that your guest welcome book does a good job of substituting that face-to-face interaction. Having a friendly, informative welcome book for your guests can be a great substitute for a handshake at the door.

Help guests make the most of your property

It might be your second home, but your guests have never stepped foot on the property. The only thing they know about your vacation rental might be a couple of photos they saw on your website and a nicely written vacation rental property listing.

You don’t want your guests to feel lost upon arrival. After all, what kind of welcome is that?

A comprehensive vacation rental welcome book helps guests utilize your property to its fullest potential, enhancing their overall experience. This not only leads to positive reviews but also reduces the need for constant communication during their stay.

By clearly explaining how to operate appliances, highlighting unique features, and clarifying house rules, you’re ensuring a smoother, more enjoyable stay for your guests. This results in less wear and tear, fewer misunderstandings, and more time for you to focus on growing your vacation rental business. In essence, a well-constructed welcome book benefits both your guests and your business. And we love a good win-win.

Couple checking into a vacation rental

Provide local recommendations

Speaking of win-wins, it’s also beneficial to provide local recommendations in your vacation rental welcome book. These recommendations serve as a personalized guide, helping guests discover unique activities and places that enrich their stay. This added value can make your property stand out in a saturated market, potentially leading to more bookings and positive reviews.

Moreover, by promoting local businesses, be it a family-run restaurant, a unique boutique, or an outdoor adventure company, you’re contributing to the local economy. This not only fosters community relationships but also enhances the authenticity of the guest’s experience.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that the guest experience isn’t crafted in the home alone. What guests do and how they interact with the location and the locals is going to shape how they feel about your vacation rental.

Get 5-star reviews

You want your guests to have a good trip and for that to be reflected in their reviews. A shining review indicates a great guest experience, allowing you to draw in new customers and rebook the old ones, too.

By showcasing your attention to detail and thoughtfulness, your welcome book for guests humanizes you as the owner, encouraging guests to take better care of your property. When guests feel personally welcomed and cared for, they are more likely to leave a positive review.

The bottom line? The more you include in your welcome booklet, the more you’ll be rewarded for your thoughtfulness in their online reviews, which also helps to give credibility to your vacation rental business and website.

The ultimate vacation rental welcome book template

What’s the main problem most hosts come across when creating a new welcome book for a short-term rental? It takes a lot of time and effort!

Writing an entirely new vacation rental welcome book from scratch is time-consuming and distracts you from other important tasks like creating your vacation rental website or managing cleaners. You could probably spend hours (or even days) trying to figure out the right structure of the text, which tone of voice you should use, and which useful information you should include.

Luckily for you, you can skip this tedious step these days because there are several great short-term rental welcome book templates for free online, including our own short-term rental welcome book template. Keep scrolling to learn more about what to include in your welcome book, or download our free vacation rental welcome book template now in the form of a checklist of everything you need to include to properly welcome your guests.

Vacation rental welcome book template and checklist

What to include in your vacation rental welcome book

When deciding what to include in your vacation rental welcome book, there’s one thing you should always remember: every section should be helpful for first-time guests in your area and home.

That’s why we usually suggest splitting your vacation rental welcome book into shorter sections for easy navigation. Here are our top suggestions, ideas, and tips on what to include in any welcome book for vacation rentals, whether you’re renting out a cabin, villa, or city apartment.

1. Welcome information

Use the first section of your guest welcome book to do just that—welcome your guests to your vacation rental. You’ve heard time and time again that the first impression is the last impression, so don’t miss the opportunity to help ensure your guests start their experience in your property in the best way possible.

This section should include a warm, personalized greeting to make them feel at home. You can also add a brief history or fun facts about your property to create a connection. This is particularly useful if you have an automated check-in system and aren’t usually there to greet guests in person upon arrival.

welcome mat

You can also include a brief summary of:

  • Cleaning protocols & guidelines
  • Parking information
  • Access codes (if applicable)
  • Guest Wi-Fi password
  • Your contact details

It’s also helpful to include the property address here for easy reference, especially as so many people use it to order food these days from apps like Uber Eats or Postmates. Highlight any unique features or quirks of your property and how to operate them.

2. Table of contents

In a dream world, your guests will read your welcome book in full. However, if you’ve ever read a guest welcome book as an actual guest, you know that rarely ever happens.

Guests are eager to go on vacation! They’ll probably skim through the book or immediately look for the information they need, such as the WiFi password or pool entry code. A table of contents helps organize your welcome book, making it easier to point guests in the right direction while giving them a clear guide to finding the information they’re looking for.

3. Arrival & departure information

If you’re planning to send a digital welcome book via email before guests arrive, it’s a good idea to include arrival and departure details within the first few pages. This includes your rental’s full address, directions to your home from the nearest airport, any relevant train, bus, or metro stations, and check-in and check-out rules (and mention whether these are flexible or strict), etc.

Don’t forget to include clear instructions about where to find keys, how to access keyless entry, and what to do with keys upon departure. Include photos if relevant to ensure guests have no questions upon arrival. Additionally, if your property is in a complex or gated community, include instructions on how to navigate through it.

Airbnb Checkout Procedure

4. Helpful emergency contacts

In addition to your regular contact information, you’ll also want to include contact details and addresses for the following emergency resources:

  • Nearest medical clinic or hospital
  • Fire department
  • Police department

Remember, guests don’t have all the resources that they would normally have at home. In some cases, they might not even speak the local language, so they’ll feel more at ease if they know you have their safety in mind. 

Pro tip: Clarify your hours of availability when providing your regular contact details. For example, if they can reach you from 8 am to 6 pm on your mobile number during their stay, who can they contact in case of an emergency (overflowing toilet, broken air conditioner, loud neighbors, etc.)? In these cases, they won’t likely call the police department, so it’s helpful to provide them with a number they can contact if it’s not yours.

5. Rental property policies

All vacation rentals are different, so even if your guest has stayed at plenty of others in the past, that’s not to say they’ll know your vacation rental house rules unless you set them out clearly. Moreover, including your rental policies in your welcome book will help you avoid issues with guests who argue that they weren’t aware of the rules.

Use this section to clearly explain any short-term rental policies you have, along with clear instructions for guests regarding what is expected of them during their stay. In most cases, these are “bad” rules they need to follow—they’re usually just standard procedures! For example, if trash is collected on Tuesdays, you’ll want to communicate this to your guests so they don’t miss the opportunity to throw out the garbage.

Ultimately, this section of your vacation rental welcome book also serves as a reminder about how to leave your property in good condition. Another bonus of using your policies: you’re much less likely to encounter missing or misused items!

6. Amenities list

Maybe your guests booked in a rush or made the reservation super far in advance. In any case, they might have forgotten what amenities your property offers. So, it’s good to mention them again so guests can be re-dazzled with all that your property has to offer.

This also gives them indirect (or perhaps very direct) permission to use the amenities at your property. Maybe there’s a washer and dryer in the common area of the apartment complex they can use that they wouldn’t have otherwise found, or perhaps there’s a rooftop terrace they can access with their keycode.

Guests staying at short-term rentals might be unsure if they’re allowed access to everything at the property, especially if it’s something they don’t have at their permanent residence. A complete list of your amenities reassures guests that they can use them at their leisure.

Rooftop terrace of vacation rental

7. How-to instructions

If you’ve ever stayed at a vacation rental or hotel (or even a friend’s house!), you’ll know that things rarely seem to work the way they do at your own house. That’s why it’s best to explain every little detail to your guests. The last thing you want is for guests to feel frustrated at how to work a thermostat or shower and end up not enjoying their stay (and mentioning that in their review).

Some things to consider writing instructions for in your welcome book for guests include:

  • Property access (lockbox code, garage code, gate)
  • Router/internet restrictions
  • Thermostat
  • Hot tub or fireplace
  • Barbecue
  • Swimming pool
  • Washer and dryer
  • Kitchen appliances
  • TV/DVD player remote control
  • Netflix/HBO/Hulu

This is also the perfect place to include rules regarding things like smoking, trash, and water information. You can even mention any quirks of your rental. For example, does your WiFi work well around the house but not on the patio? Include it in this section so they know what to expect.

8. Activities guide

Although some guests may arrive with a closed itinerary, others may look for recommendations from locals—you! That’s why you should dedicate a full section of your welcome book to the activities and attractions your area offers.

Show off your expertise and include a “best of” list of your personal favorite things to do near your rental. Additionally (depending on your rental location), you may want to create a section for each of the most popular leisure pursuits, such as walks, hikes, cycle routes, beaches, and watersports, plus shopping options like where to find fresh produce and second-hand markets.

Keep these as local and exclusive as possible. For example, if you know there’s a great fruit stand at the corner of your street, tell them to visit and ask for Marta because she’ll give you the freshest fruit of the day and show you photos of what the neighborhood looked like 50 years ago.

local businesses

9. Bars and restaurants guide

Remember, 27% of guests are interested in restaurant recommendations, while 40% look for recommendations for food tours of local cuisine. Cater to those interests and write a short introduction to your location’s best spots to eat and drink.

Maybe there is a particular dish that’s popular in the region? Or a style of cooking that’s unique to your area? Provide as much detail as possible, and include your favorite restaurants, bars, lunch spots, and recommended dishes to try at each spot.

Don’t forget to include telephone numbers, website or TripAdvisor links, and a map if you can! This will help guests find them more easily and make reservations if needed.

restaurant recommendations

Furthermore, you could consider speaking with local businesses to form some kind of partnership agreement. Perhaps in return for recommending guests to their restaurant, for example, they could supply you with exclusive discounts or vouchers, which you can add as an additional perk to your website or include on the first page of your vacation rental welcome book, enticing more guests to book with you.

10. Local ordinances/code compliance

Some areas have specific regulations and rules for short-term rentals. For example, some cities or communities prohibit outdoor trash, so guests have to take their trash to local facilities. Certain regions often prohibit campfires or fireworks.

Making your guests aware of these local rules is important to avoid problems during their stay. Plus, it’ll help you avoid having your own hosting horror story!

11. Local transportation

Help guests explore your area by creating a section with tips on how to get around your area. Provide contact information, schedules, and any other specifics that could be useful to visitors, such as:

  • Taxi & shuttle services
  • Bus routes
  • Metro stops
  • Car rentals
  • Airports and train stations
  • Local area maps

This information is particularly useful if your rental is off-the-grid, where cell service may not be readily accessible. It also helps to share any tips about getting around your area that only locals would know. For example, if you know that a certain metro stop is currently closed due to renovations or that it’s particularly packed between 5-7 pm, mention that!

12. Personalized section for your target audience

A welcome book for vacation rental guests helps them feel valued from the very start of their trip, so why not personalize it even further and make them feel extra special? An extra section geared towards the type of guest you’re hosting will bring the additional ‘wow’ factor.

For example, let’s say you’re hosting honeymooners. You can have a special section for them, including things like local recommendations for honeymoon photographers, the best romantic picnic spots, a couples massage parlor, or anything that would apply to their vacation specifically.

It’s super simple to apply the same personalization for a bachelor party, family reunion, or ‘workcation.’ Customizing the welcome book and adding in a couple of hand-selected favorites is bound to be a hit for your guests. With the right vacation rental guest book template, it’s pretty easy to do this, too.

13. Where to find you after their stay

The best type of guest is the one that comes back year after year. If you’re trying to increase your number of returning guests, a welcome book is one of the best ways. Make sure they know exactly where to reach you, especially if they made their reservation through a third-party site or OTA. 

Having emergency contact information is a must, but many hosts don’t think to link the fun ways to contact them. Show them how to join your mailing list to get property updates and discounts. You can also provide your social media accounts or a link to your vacation rental blog. 

Welcome book template

14. Special extras

To truly impress your guests, leave some other tips to make every guest’s arrival as smooth as possible. You could even use the final section to provide them with practical information about the area where your rental is located.

That means everything they can find nearby, like:

  • Nearest grocery stores
  • 24h convenience stores
  • Gas stations
  • ATMs
  • Pharmacies
  • Places of worship

Leaving this information within easy reach of your guests will make for a comfortable and stress-free stay.

How to present your vacation rental welcome book

You’ll need to give your guests a copy of their guest welcome book before they arrive, but how should you deliver it?

While we sit at the impasse of print vs. digital, many hosts are left scratching their heads in deciding the best way to give their guests the vacation rental welcome book. There are benefits to both, and the right answer ultimately depends on the host, the guest, and the property.

Printed welcome book

What’s great about a printed vacation rental welcome book is that it’s so much more personal. It can easily provide that extra touch that some guests complain is missing in a stay these days.

Remember that many travelers opt for vacation rentals because they feel it’s a more bespoke option than hotels. With that said, you might find that a physical copy of your vacation rental welcome guidebook is the best way for guests to feel like their stay is being thoughtfully hosted.

reading a welcome book

Consider your typical guest profile, though. Millennial travelers and Gen-Z guests might not notice the extra touch. Furthermore, they might prefer a digital copy so they don’t have to look for and open up a welcome binder for the vacation rental. Considering your audience will help determine whether you want to bother with a printed copy.

Digital welcome book

So, what about a digital vacation rental welcome book? Almost the entire reservation process can be digitized nowadays, so should your welcome book be virtual, or should that be the exception?

Hosts always struggle to decide what needs a physical copy and what goes online. So when is the right time for a digital copy? There are plenty of reasons for going digital with your guidebook, which is why we’ve outlined it here in our guide to the five reasons why you need a digital vacation rental welcome book.

How different is a vacation rental welcome book template from an Airbnb welcome book?

Long story short, it’s not. You can use the same welcome book template we’ve mentioned above to create a welcome book for Airbnb or even a Vrbo welcome book. If you want something a little more specific to Airbnb and the types of guests it caters to, you can download our Airbnb welcome book template instead.

You can present this book in different formats (e.g., a binder, scrapbook, etc.); just try to keep the different sections organized as we’ve suggested above. Include section markers so they can easily find the parts of your Airbnb welcome book faster.

Download our free vacation rental welcome book template

A well-designed vacation rental welcome book is more than just a guide—it’s an essential tool that can significantly enhance your guests’ experience, making their stay comfortable, enjoyable, and memorable.

By providing clear instructions, local tips, and thoughtful details, you make your guests feel valued and cared for. This not only increases the chance of securing those coveted 5-star reviews but also encourages repeat bookings and positive word-of-mouth referrals.

Now, are you looking for a great short-term rental welcome book template? We’ve created a free downloadable checklist in PDF to make things easier. Use this to ensure you don’t forget to include anything when creating your own welcome book.

Don’t see the form to download the Welcome Book Checklist? Click here.


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