Buying a holiday home to let is not just as easy as purchasing a property and the bookings come...
Your cottage may feel like home to you, but to arriving guests it will be as unfamiliar as a hotel room. Therefore, providing a welcome pack for your guests is one of the most important parts of furnishing your holiday let. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to make your guests feel comfortable from the moment they arrive, and one of those is it to create a welcome pack.
A good guest welcome pack will contain information about the property and its owner. It will have a section about local amenities such as restaurants, pubs and shops. It will have emergency contact information, need-to-know appliance advice and up to date information on local transport. A guest book is always a nice touch, but encouraging guests to leave feedback online can be a good way to boost bookings, as potential guests may use these reviews as research.
Creating a welcome pack from scratch may sound like a daunting task, but with our useful guide, you’ll have one put together in no time. Your guest welcome pack needs to be as comprehensive as possible, so before you start, have a good think about what your guests might need to know when staying in your holiday let. Below, we’ve included a few essentials we think every guest information pack should contain.
First impressions are so important: don’t dive in with a host of strict rules to stick to. Instead, welcome guests to your property with a friendly note that lets them know a little about you and your property. Most people that stay at your property will enjoy hearing about its history, and are more likely to take care of the place if they’ve received a friendly and personal ‘Hello’ from its owner.
One of the best ways to put your guests’ mind at rest is to include emergency contact information in your welcome pack. Be sure to include your own contact telephone or that of your caretaker or handyman, as well as phone numbers for local doctors, hospitals and dentists. If your property is pet friendly, including the number for the local vets is a nice touch too.
Operating the appliances in your cottage might be second to nature for you, but for others, it can cause a real headache. That’s why it’s important to include detailed operating instructions on all of the appliances in your holiday home that guests will be using including ovens, TVs and the central heating. Although including all this information might sound unnecessary, it’ll save you time and inconvenience in the long run. After all, you don’t want to be woken in the middle of the night by a guest who can’t switch the TV on.
Although nine out of ten guests will treat your holiday home with the respect it deserves, it’s important to include a few dos and don’ts to reduce the chance of something going awry. If your property is in a built up area, remind guests of this to avoid unwanted noise complaints. If your property is pet friendly, reiterate that pets should be kept off furnishings. Provide clear parking instructions to ensure guests don’t park on your neighbour’s property. And most importantly, remind guests that any problems should be reported to you as quickly as possible.
Even if most guests travel to your cottage by car, it’s a great idea to include local transport information in your welcome pack. From taxi numbers to bus timetables, providing up to date transport information will be a godsend for some of your guests, especially if you live in an area with poor mobile reception. It’s also a good idea to provide brief instructions on how to get to the bus/ train station from your property as it may not be obvious to your guests.
One of the most obvious things to include in a welcome pack is a list of nearby attractions and amenities. Though most property owners will leave flyers and leaflets in their cottage, it’s a good idea to list a variety of attractions that cater for all ages, such as family days out and adult activities. If you have time, create a map of where the attractions are in relation to the cottage and include any attractions that you can personally recommend. Any personal recommendations you can make will be really useful to your customers, especially in terms of local restaurants, pubs or takeaways they can dine at if they want to treat themselves. If you don’t have time to create your own map, it would be useful to include some up-to-date maps of the region. This will help guests that are unfamiliar with the local area navigate their way to these attractions and amenities – especially in locations where the mobile data can be intermittent!
After a long car journey, you’re exhausted and ready to clamber into your new holiday home, kick off your shoes and relax. How pleasantly surprised will your customers be if they are greeted with a welcome gift? Perhaps a small hamper filled with essentials and home comforts like tea bags, coffee, biscuits and a loaf of bread, to save the last minute dash to the shop after a long journey. You don’t have to spend a fortune either, just having a few basic items and showing thoughtfulness will be unexpected and will make a big difference. You can leave a lasting impression by doing something inexpensive and attentive.
As with the welcome hamper, there are so many extra touches you could put on your property to give it that bit of sparkle and allow it to leave a positive and lasting impression in your guest’s minds. Stand out from the crowd by going the extra mile, which incidentally doesn’t mean you have to spend lots of extra cash. Play to your strengths: if you’re a whizz in the kitchen, you could leave your guests a welcome cake; if your passion is design, perhaps some cushions or small decorative features that will make the property more welcoming; if there’s a family staying at your property, leaving board games, colouring books and reading books for the children to enjoy would go down a treat. Stock up on the staple cupboard ingredients that are taken for granted at home, but may be forgotten when packing for a holiday. Essential items like herbs & spices, salt & pepper, cooking oil, sugar, washing up liquid/dishwasher tablets and toilet paper will be greatly appreciated by your guests.
If your property has some great USP’s, make sure you’re shouting about them. If you have Wi-Fi, let your guests know exactly how to use it and where they can find Wi-Fi in the local area, i.e. at restaurants, pubs, cafes, etc. If you have a hot tub or swimming pool at your property, make sure guests know exactly how and when they should be accessing them. If your property is pet friendly, leave some treats for the dog and a gentle reminder of where the dogs can and cannot go in the property, if that would be applicable to you.
You can provide support and advice to your guests from day one of their booking journey by ensuring you have updated the Sykes Travel App with relevant and useful information about your property and the surrounding area. For more information about the Owner App, log in to the owner portal.
*Based on a 7 bedroom property in the Lake District with bookings between October 2017 to September 2018.
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