I’ve been an interior designer and stylist helping Airbnb’s and Guesthouses for many years and would like to share with you my tips when starting an Airbnb or Holiday Rental and what to include in your Welcome Pack and House Manual. This helps you stand out from your competition help you meet guest’s ever-rising standards and expectations.
Know your competition
You probably did a fair amount of sleuthing on the local competition when deciding to start your business. My number one marketing recommendation is to continue to continue to do so regularly on an annual basis. Stay at an advantage in setting the right price point and being on the pulse of what others are offering so you can keep tailoring your services to reflect the changing tides.
Your three basic questions are:
- What are others offering?
- What do they charge?
- Who are they attracting?
Know what differentiates you – Your USP (Unique Selling Point)
- What is it that sets you apart from the rest at the moment?
- Location? History? Price? Services? …?
- Think as a guest would: Why do they choose you?
- Do you find that you are attracting a certain type of guest regularly?
- Are you consciously (or unconsciously) selling yourself to a particular clientele?
- What do you mostly get credited for in reviews?
- What improvements have guests suggested? Even if you don’t make the changes they suggest, it may tell you what you are not perceived as having high on your priority list.
- How can you further stand out from the competition?
Branding at it’s simplest:
- Be clear as to the message you want to relay about who you are, what you offer and what makes you attractive.
- This message should be easy to read and cohesive across all your online and printed material.
- Make sure the service you provide fully supports what you promote.
- This message should extend throughout the look and feel of your property. There are tricks to creating an ambience using different colour relationships, lighting and furniture arrangements to alter the way a room reads in that all too important first impression. This is my speciality, so please be in touch if I can be of help.
- If it’s relevant, add signage to keep your business memorable, or devise a catchy way to make your place memorable. A clear and professional logo can make all the difference in setting the right tone to symbolize your business. Obviously less relevant for individual Airbnb’s
- Be Instagram savvy! Yes it really is that important these days! Regular weekly posts encourage guests to ‘like’ and ‘share’ your photos with their friends to either show them where they’ve been. Guests are also using Instagram more and more these days when searching for a place to stay. Take the time to ensure that the photos are as seductive as possible… or make a small investment to have professional photographs taken so you have a folder of images at the ready to show your property off in the most appealing light possible. I offer on-site styling and photography packages starting at a half-day rate.
Images courtesy of Pinterest
The Welcome Pack
After a long journey, the comfort of being able to feel immediately at home in a strange environment is priceless. The welcome pack is a small investment that makes all the difference. and show you’ve really thought about your guests’ needs.
A basic offering usually includes a kettle / instant hot water tap, coffee and tea selection (including herbal), milk, sugar, sweetener and biscuits. However with the increasing trend for boutique hotels worldwide, guests’ expectations are often heightened and there is a need to offer more creative amenities to help make for a truly memorable experience. Indeed Airbnb have had an overwhelming success offering “Experiences” to guests, which is a way of really standing out if you are looking for a higher star rating.
The Welcome Pack might include:
- Target your welcome pack to the type of guests who are likely to be staying. For example, if the local wildlife is part of your holiday rental’s USP, some binoculars and a wildlife guidebook would be a thoughtful addition.
- A disposable map of the area, with certain landmarks and useful local amenities marked.
- Speciality items that are specific to the area: Locally produced bread in a sealed bag, butter and a local preserve or two. Or perhaps a local cheese, grapes and crackers.
- Mini snack bags, Granola bars or nut mixes. You may want to consider adding a choice of a savoury and sweet snacks. Instant snacks, that need little or no preparation are best.
- Make sure all food-items are within their sell-by date and sealed so that there’s no suspicion of contamination
- Fresh coffee, a selection of teas (Including a choice of single sachet non-caffeine herb teas) and a few sachets of hot chocolate.
- If you want to provide magazines, be sure to replace these every few months to keep them relevant and in good condition.
- Partner up with some local walking or biking guides, wellness day spa practitioners or local workshops to offer your guest personally recommended deals.
- Add a personalised hand written ‘welcome note’. Be creative: Write a brief note on a large luggage tag with your logo sticker on the other side, or on a postcard of your property or the area.
- Alcohol: There’s a little bit of a debate about whether alcohol should be offered as standard fare as you don’t know whether the guest has issues around alcohol. Many Holiday rentals do however: Something sparkly for romantic weekend getaways (Especially for a honeymoon or anniversary) and Hen / Stag-do’s is a sure way to making your guests feel welcome. Or perhaps a bottle from your local micro-brewery.
The House Manual
Appliances should be chosen to be as easy to use as possible. Even then, it is best not to assume that everyone can work them out! The house Manual should provide simple step-by-step instructions on how to use anything electrical in the space, even if it may seem obvious to you. Adding a copy of the manufacturer’s instructions within a plastic-sleeve binder is often used, but a simplified guide (with pictures and arrowed notes) is far less complicated for the guest, particularly if English is not their first language.
The House Manual should include:
- A personal welcome note at the front of the binder.
- Emergency contact numbers should anything go wrong within the house, Emergency doctor and local hospital telephone and address.
- Delivery food services within the area – if this is something you allow.
- A step-by-step guide on how to use each appliance – microwave, oven, washing machine, dryer, iron, heating & thermostats, shower settings etc.
- A step-by-step guide on how to use each alarm: Fire, C02 etc.
- Suggestions of local places to visit and local leaflets, magazines and/or books are always helpful.
- Local travel service leaflets (be sure this is kept up to date). Include walking directions, cycling routes, public transport and taxi information.
- Smoking policy and locations where provisions have been made for smokers.
- Clear information on where internal and external bins are kept and their collection days.
I hope this is helpful and I wish your business every success! For more information on Guesthouse Makeovers, Airbnb and Holiday Rental Styling in the South-West of England, see my portfolio or contact firstname.lastname@example.org