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Without guests, you have no one to stay at your home, no one to leave you reviews, and no extra income. Obvious as this may seem, going above and beyond for a guest can really set you apart from other hosts. But you don’t need to overdo yourself for every reservation. Simple DIY home updates, for example, are some ways to get ahead.
Another one is taking a page from Airbnb’s playbook – create the ultimate guest experience. Airbnb recently announced their latest feature that provides a collaborative guidebook for guests for 23 of their most popular destinations.
We talked to Andrew Carlone, CEO and co-founder of Coral, a tech startup that has developed a personalized, app-based platform, so hosts can create a magnificent guest guidebook and house manual of their own. During their development stage, Carlone and his team stayed in Airbnb rentals to fully understand everything a guest could possibly want or ever need. This is why the Coral team is referred to as “expert guests.”
A local handbook, when combined with a house manual, come together to create the ultimate guest guidebook. Here’s how to do it.
First thing’s first. Assume your guests know nothing. “Because of the amount of growth the rental industry is experiencing, it’s best to assume your guests have never used a platform like Airbnb before,” says Carlone.
“Include check-in times and key and entry information to ensure that guests have all the information they need before they show up. This way, they won’t be fumbling around or asking questions at the door.”
Once your guest is able to check-in, details like where to put their shoes, what the Wi-Fi password is, and where to find supplies like dish soap or extra blankets are always appreciated. The goal is to anticipate what your guest would need and curtail them from constantly reaching out for easy answers.
Speaking of reaching out – contact information. “You’d be shocked at the lack of information provided by hosts in their house manual,” says Carlone.
Risking five-star reviews from simple mistakes, like check-in confusion, jeopardize future repeat bookings and occupancy rates. Platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway are experience-driven and you’ll want to make it as stress-free as possible. “The solution is simple – provide access to information,” insists Carlone.
The best way to do this is to make it available in digital form so guests can read your rules before they arrive. “A digital house manual is a must-have,” he states.
Lastly, a manual and guidebook available in digital form makes it accessible to guests when they’re not in your home. After a day of sight-seeing and adventuring, being able to quickly look up that awesome pizza place you recommended is a huge perk.
Making information available to guests early on can help you manage guests’ expectations. Some customers might expect hotel-style room service or assume you’ll have amenities like hairdryers and ironing boards available. It’s best to nip unrealistic expectations in the bud: A good digital manual is easy to send in advance and will lay down house rules so guests know what to expect when they visit your property – and what you expect of them.
Including local insider information that guests wouldn’t know is much appreciated by guests and allows them to really experience what it’s like to live in your community. You already know this information – eliminate the hassle of them trying to figure it out themselves. Things like what public transportation route is best from the airport, what day street cleaning is, and what coffee shop does the best latte art are all tips that make your guests’ experience the best. And they really appreciate it.
Also, don’t forget to offer something different than you would find in a Frommer’s travel guide. Think outside the box. “Most hosts only include restaurants and bars,” Carlone laughs. “What about tourist attractions, special events, concerts, grocery stores, pharmacies, liquor stores and hiking trails as well? The list is endless! Don’t just write about your local restaurants.”
When making local recommendations, think about the type of guests you attract – Couples? Honeymooners? Business travelers? – and what they want to see and do in the local area, rather than including just your own personal preferences. “Not all recommendations are created equal,” warns Carlone. “A 65-year-old host isn’t necessarily going to enjoy the same activities that Millennials do. Try to curate experiences for your specific guests.”
Making arrangements with nearby businesses can work wonders, too. “Tell your local bartender to take care of your guests if they visit their establishment or add recommended menu items from your favorite restaurants in your guidebook.”
If you want your guests to read your manual, make it engaging. “The best house manuals and guidebooks are those where the host has injected their personality,” Carlone emphasizes. Using your own unique flare does the same for your guidebook as it did when you decorated your rental. Guests remember this and it makes their experience memorable.
A manual also needs to be clear and concise. Carlone recalls seeing, “a number of long-winded house manual and really brief ones. Guests need to be able to digest critical information, otherwise, they’re not going to read it – plain and simple.”
So what are the key takeaways, here? Creating a house manual can boost your credentials as a host and build trust with your guests. Make information available as early as possible and in a digital format. Include local recommendations and curate a wide variety of choices targeted at specific guests. The right tone can both help take the stress out of the vacation rental experience and cement your status as, “the host with the most.”
By: Michelle Giuliano
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