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July 07, 2019 | By Michael Garrity

10 Tips for Creating a Five Star Guest Experience

Wine Glasses (Image source: Pixabay)

When it comes to providing an excellent vacation rental experience, it really is all about the little things. Anyone with the space to share can set up an account and probably do a fine job of putting someone up for a night or two, but there is a reason why Airbnb designate’s certain people as “Superhosts.” These folks have mastered the art of anticipating the needs of their guests and taken the time to add the extra touches and finishing details that help their rentals stand apart from the competition.

Of course, not every experience is going to be perfect for both the host and the guest, but there are always ways to go above and beyond to provide top notch service and increase the likelihood that your guests leave with pleasant memories of their stay.

Personal Greeting

As often as possible, you should be at the rental before your guests arrive, prepared to meet them, show them around, and answer any upfront questions that they will likely have. This works on a number of levels, but the most immediate (and perhaps most important) is that you’re establishing an interest in your guests and the quality of their experience. By being there to welcome them, you’re also making it clear that you’ll be present to address any questions or concerns they may have during their stay.

Not every host lives close enough to be available to personally greet every guest, but that doesn’t mean you should just forget about providing a personal greeting. In this case, ask a property manager, friend, or family member who lives close to welcome your guests whenever possible. When an in-person welcome simply isn’t in the cards, the next best option is to leave a personalized, handwritten note that provides your contact information (email, phone number) and encourages the guests to reach out at any time if they need anything.

Offer Local Guidance

People usually choose to stay in a vacation rental at least in part because they’re interested in experiencing a new place like a local resident, something the faceless efficiency of a chain hotel or depersonalized atmosphere of a hostel can’t quite provide. You can make outings a little more special for your guests by providing recommendations for your favorite local sights, activities, and restaurants (bonus points if you throw in some options off the beaten path that guests aren’t likely to find in a tourist’s brochure). Sharing your suggestions during your welcome is a great start, and you can also provide a custom-made local guide inside the rental, complete with takeout menus, coupons, and directions, in addition to your aforementioned recommendations. It’s a great way to help your guests feel empowered to live locally without feeling overwhelmed by indecision, and it will display your own connection to the community, as well.

Add a Local Touch

Similarly, build your guest experience around the flavors of your community. Outfit your rental with items that will help them enjoy the area - stock extra sunscreen and a caddy if they’re near the beach, provide plenty of wine glasses if you’re in the Napa Valley, or leave some subway passes if you’re rental is located in New York or Chicago. Anything they may need to help them navigate the area and enjoy the things that make your location a unique place worth visiting.

Stock Up on the Essentials

Admittedly, this is kind of like Airbnb Hosting 101, but that’s because it’s absolutely necessary to providing a great guest experience. Your rental should be stocked with anything that is necessary to daily living - towels, universal electronics chargers, toiletries (toothpaste, soap, shampoo, lotion, etc.), bottled or purified water, cleaning supplies, and PLENTY of toilet paper. The level of detail that you want to get to is up to you and what you can keep up with (e.g., some hosts even provide toothbrushes for travelers who forgot to bring one), but there are some things that are hopefully obvious amenities that your guests will probably be expecting. Your rental should always be have enough of these essentials to make sure that your next guest won’t run out, which means keeping extras and refills on hand, as well. In the same vein, if you are providing free WiFi (and you probably should be), make the password simple and visible.

bathroom (Image source: Pixabay)

Treat Your Guests

A goodie basket or fridge stocked with complimentary snacks, treats, or adult beverages is an easy and fun way to make your guests feel cared for and welcomed in your space. You can take it to the next level by sharing locally sourced goods, giving your guests a taste of the wonderful regional fare and encouraging them to explore more on their own.

Give Your Place Some Personality

For some, it may be fine balance between a dull, lifeless space and putting too much of yourself in a rental meant to be a temporary “home” for your guests, and we always recommend erring on the side of less is more. However, less doesn’t mean nothing at all, and it’s important to give your place a bit of character to help set it apart from the competition. This is where you get to unleash your inner interior designer (or just hire one). Spruce up the walls with artwork or photographs from local artists, add a dash of color with throw pillows and blankets, or repurpose older items into something new, useful, and unique. And mind you, there’s no need to break the bank to do this; start by hitting up local consignment stores or look online for people getting rid of their stuff on the cheap.

Consider Their Sleep

A great vacation rental experience will always begin with the bedroom (no, not like that). Above all else, you’re job is to provide a safe and comfortable place for your guests to lay their heads at night after a long day of work or sight-seeing or whatever it is they’re visiting for, so if their sleep is less than ideal, it’s going to reflect in your rating. It’s worth the initial investment to provide a sturdy, durable bed, a comfortable mattress, and high quality sheets, blankets, and pillows, all in the name of giving every guest a good night’s sleep. We recommend also having some backup bedding in the rental so guests can have fresh sheets or switch up the pillows or blankets to their liking. If you want to dive a little deeper, check out our list of 7 Bedroom Decorating Tricks for Vacation Rentals.

Hassle-Free Security

Trying to transport yourself around an unfamiliar area is hard enough as-is, so simplify the way that your guests have to enter and exit the rental. If you use a standard keyed lock, ensure that it’s always in good working order (by checking it in between each guest) and facilitate a frictionless handoff of the keys when they arrive and leave, while also communicating anything that may cause concern or confusion. For instance, if there are multiple keys to manage, clearly label or color code each key and provide both written and verbal instructions. We actually recommend forgoing keys altogether in favor of a touchpad lock, which allows guests to lock and unlock the door by entering a numerical code. Again, just make sure that the code is clearly communicated to the guests and that you check the lock between stays to make sure everything is in proper working order.

Ice Breakers

Help your guests ease into their stay by leaving some ice breakers in the rental, such as a deck of cards, party games, or light reading materials (maybe the latest copy of Airbnb Magazine). These will give travel-weary or restless visitors something to do while they’re hanging around, but most importantly, it adds a little more of that personal touch that tells them you’ve considered each moment of their stay and tried to find ways to anticipate and accommodate their needs.

Hang Out with Your Guests (Sometimes)

If you’re around (and especially if your rental is located on or near your primary residence), don’t be shy about inviting your guests to hang out, either around the rental or out in the town. While there’s a good chance that they’ll have plans or want to just do their own thing, sometimes they’ll probably take you up on it, which gives you the opportunity to get to know them, tell them more about the area, and maybe even make some new friends. Just always remember that it’s their vacation and that they’re under no obligation to spend time with you, while at the same time always leaving open the opportunity to get to know each other better. (And of course, sometimes you just don’t get along with everyone. You’re also under no obligation to spend your free time with your guests if it doesn’t interest you!)

Ultimately, everything about your rental should be in service to your guests. They’re staying with you because they’re looking for a personalized local experience, so use your natural expertise as a resident and/or property owner to give that to them in a way that is going to be wholly unique to yourself and your community. That, and make sure that there is ALWAYS enough toilet paper.