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How to Prepare Your Guests for a 5-Star STR Stay

As a vacation rental owner, it’s tempting to think that once your booking is confirmed, all you have to do is sit back and wait for your guests to arrive. 

But, really, we know that in order to maintain that five-star rating, we need to do more.

The days, weeks, and even months between a guest booking and their arrival date, form a key and memorable part of the whole guest experience.  It’s time to start making first impressions and to prepare your guests for what to expect once they arrive.

If you get the pre-arrival process right,  you’ll set the tone for a fantastic stay.  Want to know how to perfect your pre-arrival process?  Keep on reading to find out.

1. Send a “handshake email”

Over the years, vacation rentals have become known for their warmth and personality.  Nowadays, guests expect to be treated like a real person – not just a booking confirmation code.  That’s why it’s important to meet these expectations from the get-go.  And the pre-arrival “handshake email” is a great way to start.

Reach out with a friendly welcome email that thanks your guests  for choosing your rental.  You can also use this opportunity to express that you hope the holiday meets all their expectations. 

This first “hello” is also the time to share a little about yourself.  Guests feel more at ease when they arrive at their accommodation if they know a little bit about the person who's hosting them.  You can be brief, but be sure to include details that relate back to the guest experience. 

For example, outline what you love most about your rental and why you were drawn to your destination. If you have social media accounts dedicated to your business, invite them to follow, so they can get a deeper sense of where they’re going and what you’re all about.

It’s easy to streamline this handshake email, too.  Just make this email the first in a series of custom, automated emails that you send to your guests when they book.

2. Help them get acquainted with the area

The hosting experience shouldn’t end after your guests have left your property to go exploring.  In fact, providing a great guest experience means stepping also into the role of “de facto destination expert.”

Whether your guests are seasoned visitors who summer with you every year, or newbies visiting for the first time, you can make their holiday planning more enjoyable by sharing your detailed knowledge of the destination.

And this means going beyond the normal big hits and major highlights.  For example, 

  • Is there a family-run restaurant down the street that has the best tacos you’ve ever tasted? 
  • Or is there a not-to-be-missed local festival that’s happening while they’re in town? 

Consider compiling all your best information into a local guide to make it easy to share with every guest when they book.  You can create a digital guide book where you can host all this extra, valuable, information. 

3. Let your guests know what to expect when they arrive

It’s easy to underestimate the importance of simple check-in instructions.  But, while often overlooked, this element of guest communication can go a long way when it comes to putting your guests at ease.

So, before your guests set off to your accommodation, they should already have every detail they need for a stress-free journey.  This Includes: : 

  • Directions from the airport or major highways 
  • Information about navigating your complex or property
  • Parking instructions
  • Directions on how to use your lock

I'll be the first to admit that providing these nitty-gritty details in a clear and concise format can be challenging.  But with a little effort, you can create check-in instructions that will make your guests feel relaxed and at ease – rather than overwhelmed and stressed out…

4. Provide answers for any frequently asked questions.

If you’ve been hosting a while, it’s likely you’ve been asked the same questions by your guests time and time again.  Common questions might include: 

  • How well does the WiFi work?
  • Am I allowed to use the chef’s kitchen to host a dinner party?
  • Is my dog allowed to join me on my holiday?

Further to this, the pandemic has also created a whole new category of frequently asked questions.  In the age of Covid, guests may have a laundry list of concerns during the booking process, such as: 

  • What are your cleaning protocols like?.
  • What attractions are open near the property? 
  • Are there any other restrictions I need to know about?

You’ll make a lot of guests feel more comfortable by sharing an FAQ before guests arrive (and save yourself the headache of answering the same question a thousand times!

5. Gather all of your information in one place

You can spend hours perfecting the information to share with guests, but it’s not much use if your guests  can’t find it when they need it.  Scattering information across  multiple different emails or messages can result in frustrated guests having to piece the check-in puzzle together themselves. 

To avoid these frustrated guests, compile all of your information into a digital guest book that can be accessed from any device.  Then, make this guidebook available across all the communication you have with your guests. 

These digital guest books will still allow you to send personalized email sequences to your guests while avoiding confusion about where to access information.  And better yet, you’ll be able to share all this useful information with every guest who needs it.

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