As a vacation rental owner (and given the recent growth of the industry), you really have to stand out amongst your competition to ensure bookings. The bar has been raised and guest expectations are high, which makes surprising them that bit more difficult.
You may have an impeccable property, an unbeatable location and all the amenities travelers can dream of. But if you don’t have that little “extra” that comes as a surprise, you risk losing out on reservations. Worse yet, they’ll book with your competitors.
In a business as competitive as vacation rentals, going that step further is the key to success. First off, send your guests an email a few days before their stay which contains information regarding transportation, check-in, accommodation and the area. The next step – and the focus of this article – is to prepare a welcome pack that will leave guests open-mouthed. After all, they have chosen your property and not any other – so, celebrate it! By providing your guests with an interesting welcome pack, not only are you offering an extra that they will love, but you are also ensuring a great first impression which can lead to very positive reviews and recommendations.
So, what goes into a perfect vacation rental welcome pack? It all depends on the time and budget that you want to dedicate to it, of course. However, we believe that the recipe for the perfect welcome gift, however small or large, combines both practical and emotional items. That means a mixture of the essentials, along with a special something that only you know how to find.
Let’s take a look at the best items you can include in your next vacation rental welcome pack!
The “basics” are the most essential and economical items you’ll include in your welcome pack. That said, they can still have the surprise factor for guests, as these thoughtful items may really help out in case travelers have forgotten to pack something for their trip!
In this category, you’ll want to think about bathroom essentials and the fundamental ingredients to enjoy breakfast in your rental. Short-stay travelers don’t want to buy a huge bottle of shampoo that they’re only going to use half of, and they will likely appreciate a home-brewed coffee before a long day of sightseeing. Your guests will be very grateful for anything you do which makes their trip easier!
Even though these items are basic, it doesn’t mean you can’t show off with them. You’re sure to triumph with a welcome basket that includes a relaxing shower gel, soothing cream for tired legs and bath salts for a long soak at the end of the day. As for breakfast, if you go beyond the traditional coffee capsules and also supply fresh pastries from a local bakery, guests will jump for joy!
Personalized according to your accommodation and/or the time of year
Play with your property’s theme, its location and the type of tourism that usually takes place at that time of year. For example, if you are the owner of a cozy rural cabin and a guest books for a few days in winter, offer them something that goes with it – such as hot chocolate or the ingredients to make mulled wine. If, on the other hand, your property is a beach apartment and your guests will stay for the whole month of August, be sure to throw in a couple of sunscreens and inflatable beach balls.
Personalized according to the guest
When you communicate with the guest during their reservation request, you may end up finding out the reason for their trip (and if not, you can always ask them!). Maybe it’s a couple celebrating their honeymoon, a group of friends celebrating a birthday or whole family trip, including small children. The more personalized the welcome gift, the happier your guests will be. Besides, it will make the welcome pack more useful, and may even change the meaning of their stay in your home.
If your guests are on a romantic trip, try adding touches such as a bottle of wine or champagne, a fresh bouquet of flowers or sensual bath oils. If they’re celebrating an important birthday, leave them a few things to set up a fun party, as well as candles and ingredients to make a cake. If your guests are families with children, you can add coloring books, toys or bedtime stories to your welcome basket for hours of entertainment.
Have a think about what your guests might need on their first night at your rental. They may arrive tired, and the last thing they’ll want to do is go out looking for supplies – especially if they arrive late and the shops are already closed. Solve this potential problem by providing some snacks that, if they do not enjoy on the first night, they can take in their backpack the next day!
A large bottle of water is key, even if the tap water is drinkable at your property. A box of energy bars, bag of cookies, nuts and even sweets can do the job. It’s also a good idea to provide some fresh fruit, such as bananas and a handful of apples.
Guests have traveled to your location for a reason – they are interested in it. Take advantage of this and surprise them with a small selection of souvenirs which they can take home as keepsakes. If you’re thinking about adding these items to your welcome pack, however, don’t limit yourself to a keychain with the most touristic symbol of the city – choose more original souvenirs instead. For example, if the fauna is very characteristic in your location, add a small stuffed animal or magnet of the most famous species. If a renowned writer grew up in your town, add one of their most famous works. In addition to this, postcards are always a success, along with everything that makes your area unique compared to other destinations.
All travelers like these types of items. You can add artisan chocolate or a typical cheese from the area. Honey, jam or traditional pasta – let guests savor delicious, local cuisine and pastries. But not everything has to be edible! You can also include handmade soaps, candles or similar things to enjoy once they are back at home.
You can even think about partnering with other local businesses to provide these items as part of your welcome pack!
To create a memorable experience, you can also talk with local restaurants to provide your guests with special discounts or vouchers to enjoy local delicacies. This may be the most expensive item in your welcome pack, but no amount of money can beat the positive effect it will have on your guests.
You can also obtain discounts for your guests to enjoy wine, beer or cheese tastings. You can even try to reach an agreement with business owners, such as money off local amusement parks or sporting activities.
PERSONAL TOUCH AND SELF-PROMOTION
Along with a welcome pack, we recommend providing a welcome book that includes everything guests may want to know about the accommodation, the area, transport, places of interest and restaurants where they can enjoy the local cuisine. Alternatively, you can also create a simple list of your personal recommendations that guests can enjoy in your area. While it may seem like a lot of effort, remember you’ll only have to write it once – then you can reuse it for all your future guests.
If you have created any kind of merchandising with your brand’s logo, the welcome pack is a good place to include it! For example, if you have headed paper with your vacation rental name on it, use it to write your personalized welcome letter.
With the above tips, you can now create a welcome pack that will leave your guests impressed and excited about their stay. Don’t forget that presentation is important – you want to amaze your guests! Find a nice wicker basket, or arrange everything neatly on the kitchen counter. If you include any edible items, be sure to ask your guests if they have any food restrictions or allergies. Let the positive reviews come flying in!