3. anticipating basic guest needs
Most guests will have a basic set of needs and questions. You can answer most questions in your welcome email, but a binder and/or website can be extremely helpful in helping your guests get their bearings and making sure they don’t miss any of your favorite spots.
If you don’t know your local business owners, now is your chance. This is also a chance to build positive neighborhood relationships.
Take a walk around your neighborhood and walk into restaurants, cafes, stores, boutiques, nail salons, etc. Introduce yourself and your business, take menus, fliers and other promotional material. Ask the staff if they offer any coupons. Before you leave, make sure you give the staff your card and let them know that you’ll give them a discount if friends or family come to visit.
Collect local mass transit, bike and tourism maps. Collect museum and other tourism brochures. Look for your local tourism bureau online and request maps and brochures.
A binder is a great way to address many of your guests’ questions and needs in one place. A well-organized binder can save you a lot of time and can have a positive impact on your guests’ experience. We have found that printing information and placing it in plastic sleeves protects it and avoids you having to print the same thing every week because it looks torn or folded.
We started with a small binder, but as our guests kept adding to it, it has grown into a pretty comprehensive book on what to do in our city. Make sure to maintain and update every 3-4 months.
What should your binder include?
The first sheet of your binder should be pretty much the same information you sent guests in the welcome email:
Check in and checkout instructions
Wifi network name and password
Your contact info
Emergency contact info
Link to your site
Most guests know their way around common appliances, HVAC and entertainment systems. However, every property has its quirks or particularities. We have gas stoves and ovens, for example, and the pilots tend to stop working at odd times. We provide guests with long lighters and instructions on how to light the stove.
Restaurants/ coffee shops/ bars
We include take-out and regular menus from several restaurants in the neighborhood, along with coupons and deals. We also printed a list of our 10 favorite restaurants within walking distance from the unit, with a little description of each and suggestions on what our favorite dishes/drinks are, happy hour and other deals.
Include tourist information of major and minor tourist attractions. Include your personal suggestions on the best places to have a picnic, where to eat when you’re visiting museums, etc.
Include mass transit and bike maps (get a lot and store them, as these always go missing or get hard use). Our guests often leave their metro cards with a little left on them, we leave them in one of the sleeves of the binder for the next guests.
List the nearest grocery stores, supermarkets, farmers’ markets, etc. You can go to Google Maps and create a personalized map that you can print and add to your binder.
Always include a list of emergency numbers and the locations of the nearest police station and hospital.
Tell your guests about your favorite nail salon, spa, gym (if it offers daily passes), yoga studio, etc. Help your guests feel like locals, that’s why they rented your unit instead of a hotel to begin with.
While a website can be initially tricky to set up, it can be extremely helpful to guests, giving them the same information as your binder, but with interactive links, etc.
It is always a great resource to include in your welcome email, allowing your guests to plan their trip in advance. It will also save you a ton of time when guests ask you for suggestions on where to eat, how to get to a destination, or what to see.
Websites are free and easy to set up and maintain. They also make you look a lot more professional.