Vacation Rental Welcome Book: How To Create One from Scratch
As a vacation rental property manager or homeowner, it's likely that you've experienced a few 2 A.M. phone calls from distressed guests asking how to get the hot tub to work. For those juggling more than 50 units, these occurrences can get out of hand very quickly. This is an unpleasant situation for all parties involved but can be easily solved with a digital vacation rental welcome book and automated messages based on vacation rental email templates.
Answering the same questions not only distracts you from more important tasks but also sacrifices your reputation and perceived professionalism. To provide each guest with the best service possible without increasing your work hours, you can turn to platforms like RueBaRue that automate and simplify these processes.
If you're looking to learn everything there is to know about welcome books, you've come to the right place! We'll tackle why you need one, whether you should go digital or printed, and what you can do to stand out from competitors.
RueBaRue is an easy-to-use tool that allows you to communicate efficiently with guests, save time, and increase your revenue – and it takes minutes to set up. Book a 30-minute demo to see RueBaRue in action.
Why do you need a vacation rental welcome book?
First thing's first: what is a vacation rental welcome book? It's essentially an informative resource that guests can turn to before and during their stay to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
From check-in guides to instructions on how to use a coffee machine, these manuals help minimize potential worries for both you and your guests. Here's a few key reasons why your business needs a vacation rental welcome book:
1. Provide a stress-free guest experience
Property managers around the world are always looking for innovative yet affordable ways to provide a flawless holiday for their clients. That said, one of the best ways to boost guest experience is through a welcome book.
Simple things (like not being able to find the local bus) can often go awry and result in frustrated guests. While these complications aren't always directly linked with your rental property, it does affect people's overall experience and can be easily avoided.
2. Save time and energy
Even if you think you can manage the queries for all your reservations, the time required for these tasks eventually adds up. By setting up an organized welcome guide, you can direct your energy towards other jobs like social media marketing and upselling.
3. Emphasize your brand
A friendly welcome book immediately transmits your brand to guests. Before stepping foot on the property, travelers will already be impressed by the work that has gone into their stay.
Colors are used to quickly identify brands and differentiate them from competitors.
Welcome books are a prime opportunity to show the kind and professional vacation rental owner or property manager that you are. Take advantage of this and make sure the tone of your manual is aligned with your brand. Don't forget to also include your company colors and logo to raise brand awareness.
4. Increase your 5-star reviews
Going above and beyond will always lead to positive reviews. Your online reputation is an important deciding factor for those booking accommodation. By making your expectations clear and setting your guests up for success, you'll be surprised with an abundance of 5-star reviews.
Why should you create a digital guidebook instead of a physical one?
Aside from the benefits previously mentioned, creating a digital guidebook has its own perks. Most importantly, the future is paperless. Getting on the digital train not only shows your commitment to sustainability, but it's also a lot more convenient for guests. A digital vacation rental welcome book is:
- Environmentally friendly. What some people don't know is that the production of paper requires a lot of water. By going digital, you can drastically reduce your impact on the environment.
- More accessible. While printed content might be easier for readers to absorb, digital content is a lot more accessible and convenient. Instead of guests having to look for a printed welcome book or take pictures for references, they can effortlessly open the guidebook on theeir phones.
- Easier to update. One of the problems with physical welcome books is that every time a change is made, you need to reprint the whole thing. Digital versions allow you to make adjustments whenever you need, keeping your vacation rental business up-to-date at all times.
- Safer. The COVID-19 pandemic has quickly led to advances in digitalization around the world. The need for contactless options makes a digital guidebook the ideal solution. Not only does it promote self check-in, but it also gives travelers a sense of calm knowing that they can access important information without having to rely on in-person interactions.
Even if you're not the most tech-savvy property manager out there, there are still plenty of resources to create an impressive digital welcome book. With RueBaRue, you can build your own customizable guide from an easy-to-use template without any prior experience.
This platform is dedicated to simplifying operations without sacrificing quality, meaning you'll find a variety of other features that maximize your business and drive in more bookings.
How to create the perfect vacation rental welcome book with RueBaRue
When deciding between Hostfully vs TouchStay vs RueBaRue, it's essential to analyze what each platform can bring to the table and whether it's the right fit for your vacation rental business. From automated text messages to analytics reports, RueBaRue offers a plethora of tools that can make your digital welcome book stand out from the rest. Signing up with the platform will grant access to the following features:
- Vacation rental software integration. RueBaRue allows you to integrate with nine of the most popular vacation rental software companies. By doing so, you can automatically transfer data like reservations, photos, directions, parking information, and Wi-Fi codes to your account.
- A guidebook template. Also known as the Master Guide, this template is prepared with the basic categories needed in a welcome book. These can be edited or removed, and new ones can also be added.
Caption: Preview of RueBaRue's fully customizable Master Guide template
- Automated texts and emails. What's the point of having a perfect welcome book if you always forget to send it to guests? A scheduler feature ensures that you can plan ahead and set the date you'd like your guests to receive their guidebook (by both text and email). It's important to implement SMS communication because it's a lot more convenient for most people. Instead of guests refreshing their emails or relying on their Wi-Fi connection for news, RueBaRue provides them with instant and accessible notifications.
Caption: RueBaRue provides an organized scheduler for both text messages and emails
- Customizations. Every RueBaRue welcome book is unique. With the ability to customize your layout and display your own branding, you'll be in full control of the work you put out.
- Temporary links. Each guidebook has its own link that expires once the trip has come to an end. This means that information can't be shared or accessed after guests have departed. That said, we still recommend changing your door or lockbox code after every visit.
- Distance calculators. Instead of guests wasting their vacation time scrolling through Google Maps, RueBaRue generates distance calculations for locations in the area guide. This means that your visitors will be able to make an informed decision on whether to walk, bike, or drive to places like the local grocery store.
- Welcome book analytics. In order to better understand the impact of your guestbook, you can use analytics tools to see the number of times the guide was opened, when it was viewed, and for how long. With this information, you'll know whether you need to make changes or not.
Caption: Preview of RueBaRue's welcome book reports
- Mobile and desktop access. RueBaRue's guidebooks are mobile and desktop-friendly without the need for any apps or installations. This saves time for guests and improves the overall user experience.
- A print feature. If necessary, property managers also get the option to generate a printable version of their guestbook without losing any formatting or key content.
How do you make a vacation rental welcome book?
Setting up your welcome book with RueBaRue requires just a few simple steps. All you need is an account and some spare minutes to put things into action.
1. Integrate with vacation rental software
Instead of manually filling in your welcome book for every property you're managing, you can integrate it with vacation rental software. This allows you to import property details in a matter of seconds, which is a real time-saver for those juggling several listings.
RueBaRue integrates with the following vacation rental software:
- Barefoot Technologies Corporation
If your provider is not mentioned in the list above, you can contact email@example.com for future partnerships.
2. Get started with the Master Guide
A Master Guide will ensure that you've got all the bases covered. To use it, follow the next steps:
- Click on Guides at the top of the page.
- Select Master Property Guide.
- Add, remove, or edit the existing categories.
- Click on Add item to create subcategories.
- Arrange the order of your categories and subcategories with the move icon.
- Start filling in the information for each section.
Caption: Preview of options when adding an item on the Master Guide
3. Create an automatic local area guide
RueBaRue generates automatic and accurate local area guides using a search algorithm. This algorithm scans the internet for recommended restaurants, things to do, and essential services.
Caption: Sample of RueBaRue Local Area Guide
Despite being automatically generated, you still have full control over the area guide. You can add your own recommendations and events, upsell an existing service, and include freeform text with pictures, videos, and PDFs. A drag-and-drop feature makes it easy to edit the layout at any moment.
4. Make it your own!
Generic welcome books are not fun to make, and even less fun to read. Take full advantage of RueBaRue's customization options and spice up each listing depending on what makes it special.
Caption: Preview of the RueBaRue dashboard for property managers with multiple listing
What should I put in my vacation rental welcome book?
For some, this might be the most fun part of creating a welcome book. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before starting to write:
- Be brief. While digitalization is great, it also means that people's attention spans have dropped significantly. Make your guidebook short and sweet to encourage guests to read the whole thing.
- Make things crystal clear. Seeing as you don't know the level of English of every guest you'll have in the future, your best bet is to stick to simplicity.
- Pretend like you're creating a welcome book for a friend. If a close friend were to visit your city, what recommendations would you give them? Your guests deserve the same attentiveness, so brainstorm beforehand.
- Set up your automated messages. This presents an opportunity to share your welcome book with upcoming guests ahead of time.
Let's take a look at what categories you should include in your welcome book to impress every guest that comes through your door.
You only get one first impression, and your welcome letter is where it starts. Introduce yourself, give some background information of the property if possible, and invite guests to read the entire welcome book for the perfect vacation. To establish an immediate connection, personalize each welcome note according to the vacation rental guest.
Providing a complete travel checklist for your guests depending on the season is a huge help, especially when it comes to families with children. This list should cover:
- Recommended clothing items or accessories
Check-in and check-out instructions
These instructions are crucial for the experience of your guests, especially if you're using a self check-in option. For guest arrivals, make sure to include the check-in time, full address, driving directions, and necessary codes for doors or lockboxes.
For their departure, specify the check-out time, rules for late check-outs, and any cleaning requests such as taking out the trash.
Caption: Preview of RueBaRue's arrival category template
Short-term rental house rules
Clearly outline what is and isn't allowed on your property. Even if your guests have read it on your OTA listings, it's always a good idea to repeat vacation rental house rules to avoid conflict down the line. Emergency contacts and phone numbers
It's always better to be overprepared for potential emergencies in your vacation rental home. Highlight important contacts such as:
- The nearest hospital
- Private doctors
- The police department
- EMT services
- Vets (in the case that your rental is pet-friendly)
Related Article: Vacation Rental House Rules: How to Make Sure Guests Read Them
Vacation rental house manual
A house manual section will inform guests on what amenities they can expect to find in the vacation rental property. Not only does this set the right expectations, but it also gives you an opportunity to provide a how-to guide for appliances.
Local attractions, activities, and excursions
Make a list of all the best attractions in your area, including both mainstream and less known activities. These can include:
- Free tours
- Day trips
- Local cooking classes
- Wine tastings
- Hiking routes
- Shopping malls
Although they're not so glamorous, you should also include pharmacies, grocery stores, and nearby ATMs.
A guide for food-loving vacation rental guests
Creating a list of outstanding cafes, restaurants, dessert spots, and bars is always appreciated by those visiting a place for the first time. To cater to a larger crowd, be sure to add vegan and vegetarian options as well.
Tips for transportation
Exploring a new area can be overwhelming when you don't know what the best route is or what type of transportation works best. To avoid confused guests, provide them with contact information or recommendations for taxi services, local buses, trains, airport shuttles, and car rentals.
Additional information for guest
There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to vacation rental welcome books. If you have any more tips or suggestions up your sleeve for an enjoyable experience for your guests, share them in an “Additional information” category.
How to make your vacation rental welcome book stand out
Now that you know what information you should cover in your welcome book, it's time to learn how to stand out from competitors. With the popularity of guidebooks on the rise, it's necessary to go above and beyond to make a statement.
- Tell a story. As previously mentioned, telling a story about a property and its owners makes guests feel connected and creates a sense of trust.
- Focus on the design. The majority of people are drawn by visuals, so always keep an eye out to make sure that your welcome guide is aesthetically pleasing. Avoid clashing colors, overwhelming amounts of text, and unprofessional photographs. If you want to make your own logo, use Canva as it provides plenty of inspiration and guidance.
- Share your secret spots. When it comes to recommendations for restaurants or activities, don't only mention the most popular options. Revealing your favorite “secret spots” may very well be the reason your guests remember their trip.
Why a digital vacation rental welcome book is the way to go in 2022
For reasons such as sustainability and the fight against a global pandemic, digital solutions are quickly making their way to the top of the vacation rental industry. Furthermore, as society continues to prioritize convenience, portability becomes increasingly important.
To keep up with these advances, make the most of existing platforms like RueBaRue and set your digital vacation rental welcome book up in no time. Before you know it, your efforts and innovation will lead to improved customer loyalty and new bookings.
RueBaRue is an easy-to-use tool that allows you to communicate efficiently with guests, save time, and increase your revenue – and it takes minutes to set up.Book a 30-minute demo to see RueBaRue in action.
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