The welcome process is one of the most important steps in creating a strong foundation for a memorable guest experience. If you’re a property manager who has decided to start a short-term rental business, you’ll know that receiving guests properly is crucial if you want to ensure a perfect stay from the moment they arrive.
A welcome book for vacation rentals is one of the most useful and valuable things you can provide to your guests in order to make their trip unforgettable. That’s why we’ve created a free vacation rental welcome book template you can download here:
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When guests get to your vacation rental, it’s important you make them feel like they’re entering a comfortable and welcoming home where they can easily find everything they need – including information.
That means doing a bit of mind-reading – anticipating any potential problems or issues before they even have a chance to arise and leaving comprehensive instructions for the best way to deal with them, just in case!
All the practical information in your welcome book will be key in avoiding late-night (or early morning) panicked phone calls from your guests. There are only positives when it comes to making a great vacation rental welcome book. 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.
What is a vacation rental guidebook?
Guests are usually flooded with an overload of information about their reservations. From the vacation rental house rules to the check-in instructions, it’s easy to feel dizzy with information before the trip even begins. The idea of a vacation rental welcome book is to reduce stress, set the tone for a relaxing holiday, and make your guests feel welcome.
This is an opportunity to casually greet your new guests while providing them with all the necessary information about their stay. The welcome book is about the guest experience at large, so you should also familiarize them with the surrounding area and important information about the town. Consider it an educational yet warm hello.
Why do you need 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.
Certainly, 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 amenities you can provide in your vacation rental home are very important.
But have you ever heard that “the devil is in the details”?
To ensure your guests have a unique experience, you need to focus on the details. As well as a thoughtful welcome basket, you can start with the perfect welcome book. Here are the ways in which a guest welcome book can benefit your business.
Show how much you care about your guests
Remember that they’re trading in their hard-earned money and precious time for a vacation house and experience. They’re giving you something valuable with the expectation that their vacation will be good in return.
A welcome book for your guests makes the process feel more personalized. Chances are, you won’t be there to physically greet your guests, so you’ll want to make sure that your guest welcome book does a good job of substituting that.
Having a friendly, informative welcome book for your guests will be the best substitute for a handshake at the door. Let guests know you care through your welcome book.
It might be your second home, but your guests have never stepped foot on the property. The closest thing they have to know about your vacation rental might be a couple of photos you had on your website.
You don’t want your guests to feel lost upon arrival. After all, what kind of welcome is that? Tell them all the services and benefits you provide, along with how-to instructions for different simple things like connecting to WiFi, starting the dishwasher, and using all the available amenities. This will get them well acquainted with the lay of the land and how everything in your property works.
Provide local recommendations
Show them that you’re a pro by providing in-home recs and what to do around the area. Guests will be impressed with your knowledge of the surroundings and also grateful for a local’s insights.
The guest experience isn’t crafted in the home alone. What guests do and how they interact with the location is going to shape how they feel about your vacation rental. Make sure they have a good time throughout their trip by providing them with some fun options during their stay.
Get 5-star reviews
Ultimately, you want their trip to be a good one and for it to be reflected in their review. A shining review indicates a great guest experience, allowing you to draw in new customers and rebook the old ones too.
The more you include in your welcome booklet, the more you will 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 you might come across when you create a new welcome book for your short-term rental? – That it takes a lot of time and effort!
Writing and producing an entirely new vacation rental welcome book from scratch might seem like something that could take up way too much of your time. These welcome books need to be rich with quality material in order for them to be useful to guests, but in doing so, you’re using a lot of your valuable time.
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. A new welcome book can be overwhelming!
Luckily for you, you can skip this tedious step with a little help from us. Read on to get access to our free vacation rental welcome book template and checklist of everything you need to properly welcome your guests.
What to include in your vacation rental welcome book
When you’re deciding what to include in your vacation rental welcome book, there’s one thing you have to always bear in mind: every section should be helpful for first-time guests in your area and home.
That’s why we think it would be best to split the vacation rental welcome book into handy sections for easy navigation. Here are our top suggestions, ideas, and tips on what to include!
1. Welcome information
Above all, you should use the first section of your 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 this opportunity and let your guests start their experience in your property in the best way possible.
This personal “hello” will not only be a friendly way of introducing yourself to your guests, but it will also show them you really care about the experience they have in your home. This is particularly useful and will help make a great impression if you have an automated check-in system and are not usually there to greet guests upon arrival in person.
In the same section, you can also include a brief summary of:
- Cleaning protocols & guidelines
- Parking information
- Access code needed (if applicable)
- Guest Wi-Fi password
- Your contact details
Even if your guests might not read your short-term rental welcome book, it’s important they have access to it. Otherwise, they’ll definitely ask you for assistance.
2. Table of contents
In a dream world, your guests will read your welcome book in full. In reality, that’s not going to happen. 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 for you 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 an electronic copy of your 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 and train/bus stations, and check-in and check-out rules (and mention whether these are flexible or strict) etc.
4. Helpful emergency contacts
In addition to your contact information, you’ll also want to include contact details and addresses for the following emergency resources, just in case:
- Nearest medical clinic or hospital
- Fire department
- Police department
Remember, guests don’t have all the resources that they would normally have at home. They’ll feel more at ease if they know you have their safety in mind.
5. Rental property policies
All vacation rentals are different, so even if your guest has stayed at plenty 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 lay out any policies and procedures, along with clear instructions for guests regarding what is expected of them during their stay. 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.
This section will remind guests how to leave your property in good condition. Another bonus of using your policies: you are much less likely to encounter missing or misused items!
6. Amenities list
Maybe your guests booked in a rush or made the reservation very far in advance. In any case, they might have forgotten what amenities your property offers. 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 permission to use the amenities at your property. Perhaps there’s a washer and dryer or fireplace in the apartment building. Guests 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.
7. How-to instructions
If your guests can’t figure out things like how to turn on the thermostat, they can end up projecting that anger in your property reviews. It’s important to include helpful information on how to use some of your services and appliances.
You can write up the instructions for:
- Property access (lockbox code, garage code, gate)
- Router/internet restrictions
- Hot tub or fireplace
- Swimming pool
- Washer and dryer
- Kitchen appliances
- TV/DVD player remote control
This is also the perfect place to include rules regarding things like smoking, breakages, waste, and water information. You can even mention any quirks of your rental. 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.
9. Bars and restaurants guide
Write a short introduction to your location’s food and drink offerings, and ensure you provide as much detail as possible. Remember that the recommendation is a reflection of you, so you don’t want a bad dining experience to be tied back to your property.
Maybe there is a particular dish that’s popular in the region? Or a style of cooking that’s unique to your area?
Follow this with a list of your favorite restaurants, bars, and lunch spots and recommended dishes to try at these eateries. 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.
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, 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 areas 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 with 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. Make sure to provide contact information, schedules, and any other specifics that could be useful to visitors, such as:
- Taxi & shuttle services
- Bus routes
- 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.
12. Personalized section for your target audience
The welcome book for vacation rental guests helps them feel valued from the very start of their trip, so why not personalize it even further? An extra section geared towards the type of guest you’re hosting will bring the additional ‘wow’ factor.
For example, you’re hosting honeymooners. You can have a special section for them, including things like honeymoon photographers, the best romantic picnic spots, a couples massage parlor, or anything that would apply to their vacation specifically.
The same could be done 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.
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 returning guests, the 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.
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
- Places of worship
Leaving this information within easy reach of your guests will make for a comfortable and stress-free stay. All of these tips will make traveling a breeze, especially for those arriving at unsociable hours!
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 it be delivered? 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.
What’s to love about a printed vacation rental welcome book is that it’s so much more personal. It’s that extra touch that some guests complain is missing in a stay. 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.
Consider your audience as well. 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 carry around a welcome binder for the vacation rental. Gauging your audience will help determine whether you want to bother with a printed copy.
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: the digital vacation rental welcome book.
How different is it 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, 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. Include section markers so they can easily find the parts of your Airbnb welcome book faster.
Download our free vacation rental welcome book PDF
So, there you have it! We’ve outlined every section that could be handy for your guest’s welcome book. Whether you decide to present your vacation welcome book in print or digitally, your guests will surely be impressed with the added touch.
We’ve created a free downloadable checklist in PDF to make things easier. You can use this to ensure you don’t forget to include anything and to help you persuade guests to leave you a good review and return again!