By The Hospitable Team
The life of a vacation rental host can get busy. Struggling to find time to show new guests around and answer each follow-up? A digital welcome book places everything your guests they need right at their fingertips.
In our most recent Hospitable Hosts episode, we sat down with Kate Stinchcombe-Gillies, Chief Marketing Officer at Touch Stay, to discuss how a digital welcome book can increase 5-star reviews.
Kate shares some pro-tips on getting the most out of a digital welcome book and answers some common questions, such as how to edit a welcome book, when to share it with guests, and how to access it in remote locations. You’ll also hear about common mistakes hosts have made in the past and how you can avoid them.
Looking to increase your 5-star reviews and provide an exceptional guest experience? This episode is a must-listen!
Tune in now to our Hospitable Hosts podcast and learn all about how a digital welcome book can transform your short-term rental business.
Prefer to read the highlights? We’ve got a summary of the key takeaways below.
What Is a Digital Welcome Book & Why Do You Need One?
Remember when vacation rentals had physical binders or folders filled with information about the property and the surrounding area? Digital guidebooks are the virtual version of those welcome packs, but also so much more.
Kate explains that a digital guidebook contains essential information like emergency contact details and appliance instructions, while also providing instructions on how to access the property, where to park, and even the Wi-Fi password. It goes further by offering a local area guide and allows hosts to communicate with guests, inspire them with activities to book and things to see, and even offer upsells.
“We’ve got some great examples of property managers who have even taken their local area guide and split it into sections that surface the best things to do locally, free things to do with the family, things just to do as couples, etc… There’s so much flexibility in the platform, and you can get it done [efficiently] if your information is organized.”
Your First Steps With a Digital Guidebook
Starting a digital guidebook for your short-term rental business may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. According to Kate, you can start with the “pretty stuff” first, which is often the most exciting. This means branding your digital guidebook to match your business by adding your own colors, fonts, videos, and photos.
Once you’ve personalized your guidebook, the next step is to include the essential information that your guests want, such as directions, Wi-Fi codes, and appliance instructions. Kate recommends adding a link to instructions that are available on the web or creating your own videos to explain how things work. It’s all about making your guests feel comfortable and at home as soon as they arrive.
“Telling people how they can book again is another great tool — the guidebook can get people hooked into your brand and into you as a host or a manager. So, redirect them to your website, maybe pointing them to your social media platforms and inviting them to join your email list, if they want to be the first to know about discounts or just to keep in touch with news and updates from your place and the surrounding area.”
Make sure you don’t miss a single booking — talk to your guests even when you sleep.
Offline Access — No Problemo
Even in this digital age, we understand that sometimes you may find yourself without internet access, especially when you’re on the road or in remote locations. Touch Stay ensures your guests have offline access to your guidebook.
Touch Stay is a progressive web app, which means that guests don’t have to download it from an app store. Instead, you simply share a link with your guests that enables them to save Touch Stay to their home screen. Once saved, the guidebook utilizes a caching feature that stores the information the guests have accessed.
“Touch Say is not what you call a native app. You won’t find it in the App Store. It’s a progressive web app. Basically, it’s based on a URL, and when you share it, you share a link. When it’s open in a browser, the phone will automatically prompt the guests to save it to their home screen,” explains Kate.
“Once it’s open, it does this caching thing — it stores what you’ve looked at. That means that when you’re driving along and you suddenly hit the road with no cell reception, you will still have those instructions right in front of you.”
Best Practices for Your Digital Guidebook
Kate suggests that the digital guidebook should be handed out to guests as soon as they book. However, if the booking is made a year or more in advance, it might be better to wait until closer to the time of their stay.
Include information on the best restaurants, activities, and attractions in the area, including popular places like Michelin-star restaurants that need advance bookings. This helps to counter common guest questions and provides them with all the information they need to plan their trip.
Beyond simply providing a guidebook, Kate encourages hosts to communicate more and notify guests during their stay. Your communication strategy should start from the booking confirmation point. You might include prompts for guests to purchase travel insurance, pre-order groceries for the stay, or book activities in advance, then give other useful information closer to the time of their arrival.
This allows you to nudge guests to keep reading the guidebook, discover the destination, and have the best possible time during their stay. You’ll demonstrate your care about your guests’ experience and increase their likelihood of wanting to return.
“We definitely encourage proactive communication, and we enable you to be personal but automated in it, reducing inbound questions and interruptions. We even introduced a brand-new feature called First Impressions, which enables you to check in on a guest and get a star rating from the beginning — to know that everything’s cool or to pick up on things ASAP if something is not as expected.”
Avoiding common mistakes and optimizing info flows
Kate continues revealing the mistakes and challenges that hosts often encounter when designing their digital guidebooks throughout our latest episode.
Want to learn more about layout and information optimization, and which tools will help you take your guidebook to the top? Explore the full episode of our Hospitable Hosts podcast!
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