Great guidebooks make a big impact on the overall experience and satisfaction of vacation rental guests. This self-service option is a great way to welcome guests, showing that their comfort, safety and convenience are your priorities.
With the digital transformation of hospitality and changing guest expectations, vacation rental guidebooks are going digital as well. Consumer surveys show that people want self-service options. This means that guests would prefer browsing in an online knowledge base before they call you for help. If you haven’t been using digital welcome guides to help your guests before they ask, it’s time to start now.
What is a vacation rental digital guidebook?
Guests have many common questions when they arrive at rental properties. What are the best places to eat? How to use appliances? Where is the nearest grocery store? Etc.
Digital guidebook is a well-organized knowledge base about the property and valuable information guests might need for a great stay. Guests can access this tool online and navigate through the property hassle-free.
Guests can find all needed practical information about the rental property and the local area in the digital welcome book. Providing the information needed for a memorable stay along with local recommendations, rental companies can significantly improve guests’ satisfaction.
Definition of an Airbnb guidebook
Airbnb is known for the streamlined digital user experience that travelers love. Let’s see how they define digital guidebooks.
A guide book is your opportunity to give guests curated info that highlights your hospitality and your local community offerings. You can create a personalized guidebook so guests have it available at their fingertips.
The recommendations you provide are up to you, so think of what kind of suggestions you’d want as a traveler. Guests often appreciate recommendations for dining, sightseeing, unique shops, and interesting outdoor experiences.
Transformation of the vacation rental guidebook
Talking about traditional guidebooks in short-term rentals, the first thing that comes to mind is an old school physical book. The one that can be left on a counter for every person in the house to read.
Over the last couple of years guidebooks have gone through a huge transformation, adjusting to new realities of the industry. Tech-enabled property managers and owners offer guests new quick and convenient ways to navigate through the property. In many cases printed pages are replaced with electronic guides.
There are different forms of digital welcome books, from emails, PDF documents, Google docs to web pages and apps. In this blog we will be covering the latest tech in guest welcome guides.
Digital or physical guidebook?
There’s much to be said about the joy of physical books. In addition to better reading experience, physical guidebooks don’t break, don’t need to be charged or connected to the internet.
However, there’s a shift toward digital self-service in the world that was accelerated by COVID-19 pandemic and changing consumer habits.
"67% of customers prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative" - Nuance enterprise survey on self service https://t.co/PoqP02pteC— Squiz (@SquizGlobal) October 25, 2019
#DoingMoreWithLess #SquizSummit @AdamTheFrank pic.twitter.com/lOIwtVyiHb
While tech-savvy Millennials and Gen-Z travelers want everything digital and quick, people with more traditional habits change their preferences too. Guests who preferred in-person service before the pandemic have been quick to recognize the value of contactless interactions.
This is why hospitality operators are utilizing technology to better serve all guest audiences.
Why do guests like digital guidebooks?
Staying at a rental home requires learning about how things work in the property and in the area. A clear guidance on how to use appliances, what amenities are available, etc. helps create the feeling of home-away-from-home. Providing these tools contributes to the entire guest experience in your vacation rental.
This is why guests like guides. People also love it when guidebooks are accessible, up-to-date, easy to navigate, personable, and environmentally-friendly.
The guides allow your guests to plan their stay with ease right from the booking. They don’t have to wait for your reply, being able to find answers to questions they have anytime. Guests can return to guidebooks at any stage of their journey, saving time and hustle for everyone.
Ease of use
A well-organized knowledge base about the property eliminates the stress of arriving at a new place. No need to find who to talk to or what to do creates great experience and sets the vacation to a good start.
You can personalize your guests’ stay with guidebooks, tailored to their needs. For example, families would be interested in kids-friendly attractions, active travelers – in recommended nearby trails, etc. You can level up the experience of your visitors with no effort by sharing valuable or exciting details.
Many consumers are environmentally conscious and appreciate paper-free, minimum waste businesses.
What are the benefits of digital guidebooks for vacation rental managers?
Reduce the number of questions asked and streamline guest communication by providing essential information ahead of time. Property information, Google maps location, Wifi passwords, contact details, check-in and check-out time, etc.
Create relationship with your guests
Make your guests feel that they are in good hands, that you care about them and their experience at your property. A thoughtful host can easily build loyalty and bond with guests, inviting them to come back.
Get 5-star reviews
Guests who enjoyed the stay and felt that they were taken care of, usually share the feedback with their networks. They also are open to leave positive reviews after their stay. Providing insider tips about local attractions and things to do and offering extra services makes your short-term rental guests feel that your’e going an extra mile for them.
Increase direct bookings
When travelers “discover” your space on OTAs and love the experience, they will be willing to come back. You can incentivize them to book directly next time by providing an attractive package offer, a discount or a complimentary add-on.
Build your branding and professional look
Build your brand with a seamless digital guest experience, using the latest technology, clean design and user friendly tools.
Update your digital guidebooks with up-to-date information, images and videos. Add your company logo, colors, social media links for trust and professional look.
Support local businesses and boost your revenue
Showcasing local businesses to your guests is a great way to provide an immersive local experience and drive additional revenue. Having agreements or affiliate settings with the businesses allow monetize these connections.
How to create a digital guidebook?
Watch how to create a digital guidebook in three easy steps with the Enso Connect platform:
What to include in your digital guidebook?
A welcome tour in the property
Introduce your guests to the property, mention which amenities and household items are available. Tell what is unique about the space and how to get the best of it.
This is the place to clarify the house rules. Remind guests if they’re allowed to have visitors, smoke/party. Mention the time to be mindful of noise, any areas that are off-limits, any safety rules, etc.
These guidelines are important for your guests’ safety, and help prevent damage and insurance costs.
Provide the names, roles and contacts of anyone your guests are likely to be in contact with.
Local area guides
- What to do
- Where to go
- Local recommendations
If you have add-ons that you offer to your guests at additional cost, you can add them in your guidebooks. For example, boat rental, swimming pool or bath-tub heating, in-house shopping, etc.
Having a payment system connected to your digital guidebooks, makes it quick and easy to make the purchase. This way you are providing a one-click Amazon-like customer experience, while increasing your revenue per guest.
Getting a taxi, storing luggage, ordering an airport transfer and other hotel services are logistically difficult in short term rentals. However, it doesn’t mean that vacation rental operators can’t offer these services to guests.
Create a list of third party services available in your area that can help fulfill your guests needs. First, you won’t disappoint your guests by rejecting their requests and offering alternative solutions. Second, partnering with third party apps, you can drive additional revenue to your business.
5 tips to create a great digital guidebook
1. We recommend having between 5 and 10 Guidebooks for a listing
2. Add categories for each guide to structure the information for better readability
3. Don’t write a wall of text, however one sentence won’t do the work either. Find a way to deliver the information in bite-size pieces.
4. Include rich media for better user experience: photos, links and videos.
5. Make sure the guests have easy access to the guide anytime, so that they can come back whenever they need to know something. This can be achieved by reminding your guests to pin the link in their messages, add it to their Apple wallet or have it in their guest app.
How do guests access your guidebook?
Through a rental welcome book web application
Most digital guidebook solutions allow property managers to send a link with the welcome instructions to your guests.
In your guest portal
There are guest apps or guest portal solutions that walk the guests through the entire journey. These are super apps that include all processes and services guests need throughout their stay, from guest verification, fees and payments, check-in, guidebooks, upsells, etc. In this case guidebooks can be found in the guest app at any stage of the guest journey.
Note: Check out the Boarding Pass, a mobile web app for complete digital guest experience.
In their Apple Wallet
Here’s a new way to always be able to access vacation rental guidebooks, as well as the entire guest app. From now on guests can save their welcome books in their Apple Wallet.
Note: Learn more about Enso Connect’s new Apple Wallet feature for digital guest onboarding.
5 main mistakes property managers make with digital guidebooks
How much does it cost to offer a digital guidebook to your guests?
The cost for digital guidebook solutions available on the market vary from 0 to $10 per listing. Every vacation rental business is unique and requires a solution to be tailored to specific needs of the operator.