One of the most useful things you can do for your vacation rental guests is create an area guide book, also known as a “local attractions book” or “welcome book.” This personalized guide will help guests who don’t know the area get situated, as well as answering questions they may have about your home. If you’re just getting started putting a guest book together, here are some suggestions on what to include.
Guests always appreciate a brief history of the area to help them understand just what makes this place so special. Very often you can gather basic historical information from travel guides or Wikipedia, but if your rental home – or your family’s connection to the town – has an interesting history that only you know about, then write it! Travelers love learning about the unique home they are staying in.
A guide to local amenities and attractions will be the most useful part of your guest book. I highly recommend including maps and directories of the following with addresses and useful information such as hours and contacts:
- Grocery stores
- Churches/places of worship
- Local Attractions
- Take out/delivery food
You should include as much information about restaurants as possible – price, style of food, whether you need reservations, and attire. If you can include menus, that’s even better. Brochures for local attractions are also a nice touch, and if you’ve got coupons, then by all means include those. (Pro Tip: Guest Books may change over time – assemble yours in a three-ring binder so that you can easily add and remove items)
You’ll also want to create a guide to the house and amenities. If you have any complicated electronics, like a TV that is difficult to switch from Cable to DVD (they all are) or a thermostat that requires more complex programming than simply setting a temperature and walking away, then leave a the instructions. Preferably, you should write the “simple version” of the instructions in plain language, so that your guests don’t have to read a whole pamphlet just to watch a movie.
You should also include a copy of the you rental rules and guidelines and the check-in and check-out procedures. Make sure to note important rules that may be less obvious, like street parking availability or neighborhood regulations on recycling and trash collection.
Another important item to include in your guest book is a list of the TV channels. If your guests want to catch their favorite show and you have 900+ channels, then a channel guide can be extremely helpful.
Don’t forget to include emergency contact information. The unexpected often occurs when a rental property’s primary owner is away. Knowing who to call can help your guests deal with a problem without ruining their vacation experience. In addition to your phone number, you should also include:
- Police/Fire Department
- Poison Control Center
- Maintenance staff
- Rental management company or local contact
If you’re still wondering about what to put in the book, check out a local hotel room and look at their book – you’re trying to accomplish the same thing, but you also want to add a personal touch with your recommendations and advice. I also recommend leaving space for guests to add their own comments or thoughts. Your guests’ experiences will be helpful for future visitors and a fun way to find out about the folks who love your place as much as you do.