Creating a welcome packet for your vacation rental guests is a great way to ensure that they have all the information they need as soon as they walk in the front door. But, if you’ve never created a welcome packet or book, you may find yourself struggling to get started. Depending on your rental, there may be a lot of information that needs to be conveyed to guests. As the owner, it can be easy to forget that not everyone has the same in-depth knowledge of your property as you do. To help make sure you give your guests all the need-to-know information (and then some), we’ve put together this comprehensive how-to guide that covers all the ins and outs of creating a welcome packet for your guests.
Include a Welcome Note
Always start your welcome pack or book with a heartfelt welcome note. This note should convey how appreciative you are that they chose your vacation home or condo. In addition, you should also let them know how important it is to you that they have a wonderful time in your property. Your guests will form an immediate impression of your rental upon their arrival. A sincere welcome note can easily help to solidify a great first impression.
Cover Arrival and Departure Procedures
While there may not be too many arrival procedures needed for your in-home welcome book, some vacation rental owners do ask their guests to let them (or their designated local contact) know about pre-existing damage. This may not be necessary depending on your own check-in/check-out process. Some guests feel more at ease if they have the ability to pass on that information so that they’re not held accountable for the damages.
Departure procedures should cover the check-out time and what guests should do with their keys. Also, let your guests know if they need to take out the trash, set the thermostat to a certain temperature, or perform other activities before they leave the property for good.
Provide Information on Emergency Contacts
Hopefully, none of your guests will ever need the information in this section. But it’s vital to have just in case. You should provide addresses and/or phone numbers for the nearest hospital, emergency room/urgent care center, police department, fire department, animal control, gas or electric companies (in the event of power outages or gas leaks), and poison control centers. While it may seem like common sense, don’t forget to include 911 as the primary number to dial in case of emergencies. If you have international guests, they may not know that 911 is the number to call for emergent situations.
Include your phone number(s) or the number for other local contacts, as well. If you don’t live in the same area as your vacation rental, it’s a good idea to ensure your guests have someone with whom they can speak, like a property management company, should the need arise.
Detail All House & Community Rules
Include a straightforward list of all of your house rules in your welcome packet or book. This list should be very clear and easy to understand so that there’s no potential for misunderstanding. Everyone’s house rules will differ, but some of the more common ones include no smoking, no pets, and no glass bottles in or around hot tubs. You may also want to include rules that address whether your guests are allowed to have visitors, how many cars can be parked at the property, or issues like whether small children are allowed on balconies or decks.
Your community, neighborhood, or Homeowners’ Association might have even more rules of which your guests should be aware. Regulations that may concern your guests and their vacation may include those to do with noise ordinances, trash disposal, parking spots, and much more. When you have all these clearly spelled out, it helps to reduce the chance that you’ll be on the receiving end of any fines.
Go Through All the Necessary Instructions
Your guests should have a good idea of how to work everything in your property thanks to your instructions. Your list of instructions should cover appliances, the internet, cable or streaming services (and a list of channels and channel numbers), security systems, the thermostat, and hot tub, to name a few. Take this time to consider whether your property has any quirks your guests should know about. Make sure to provide the locations for breaker boxes and gas and water shutoff valves. Try to think about this section objectively so you can rest assured you’re including all the information that your guests might need during their stay.
Highlight All the Area Hot Spots
This is where you’ll get to show off all the cool things to see and do in your destination. Obviously, if your vacation rental is in a large city, you won’t be able to mention all the things worth seeing. But you can definitely list all those restaurants, activities, attractions, and events that you think would make someone’s vacation that much more incredible.
While there may be tons of fun things to do in your area, don’t overlook everyday spots that your guests might need. Make a list of local grocery stores, banks, coffee shops, ATMs, pharmacies, and places of worship so they can easily find any of them nearby. The same goes with transportation information. Provide details on local bus, shuttle, or train services as well as the numbers for taxi companies.
Throw in a Few Extras
If you have the ability, you might want to include coupons for local goods or services. This is a nice extra touch that will make your guests’ experience that much more enjoyable. Offering discounts for booking your property again is a nice touch as well.
Putting it All Together
After you’ve gathered all the aforementioned information, there’s still one more step to go: you need to put it all together in one easy-to-read, attractive package. Make the layout clear and straightforward. Your welcome packet should have a table of contents and you may want to even include tabs to help your guests find the different sections. This document is one that will need to be maintained. If the pages of your welcome book get dog-eared or stained, that reflects on the quality of your property. Laminated pages or sheet protectors can help to extend the life of your packet.
Now while it’s not necessary to spend big bucks on creating a welcome packet with glossy pages and lots of photographs, your packet should still be professional-looking. This may mean that you print up your own pages and put them in a regular binder with divider pages. Or it could mean that you work with a local or online print shop to design a one-of-a-kind welcome book. Either way, what matters is that it looks nice and has all the necessary information. In this case, appearances matter to the extent that guests are more likely to pay attention to and read welcome books that are aesthetically appealing.
Carefully consider where you place your welcome packet for guests to find. While kitchens are a common choice, the books can easily be pushed into a drawer and forgotten about. Coffee tables and nightstands are prime locations. You can also increase your welcome packet’s visibility by placing a small welcome gift or a guest comment book next to it. Guests love welcome gifts and they also love reading about previous guest experiences in your rental.
Have We Missed Anything?
Do you have other suggestions regarding the need-to-know information that should be in a vacation rental welcome packet? If so, let us know in the comments below. Otherwise, if you have questions about how we at Breckenridge Vacation Properties can help you, contact us or give us a call at (970) 528-9700.