One of the first things I do when I arrive at a new vacation home destination is to read the Welcome Book/Cottage Guide/Home Manual….whatever the owner chooses to name it. Usually it’s a quick glance at the front to see if there’s any important information we should know about, then a more leisurely browse after we’ve settled in. I guess I’m more critical than most as I live, eat, and breathe this business, but it’s surprising how many are old, tattered, dog-eared and minimalist in information.
The Welcome Book is not the only first impression offered by a vacation rental arrival. Here’s five more ways owners can boost the potential of great reviews and satisfied customers:
1 Get the directions right
When you are so used to getting to your vacation home, writing detailed and easy-to-follow directions can be tough. It’s important to write them for right-brained as well as left-brained people, meaning using landmarks and other means of spatial recognition as well as accurate distances from one landmark to another. If the directions can’t be followed easily and guests get lost, you’ve already got a negative cloud on the horizon.
2 Don’t hide the entrance
Having spent twenty minutes last week trying to find a rental cottage because the entrance was overgrown and the small sign covered with plant life, I really appreciate the annoyance guests will feel after a long journey ends with a frustrating final few minutes finding the place. Be proud of the place and put up a name sign, or at least make the house number clearly visible.
3 Clean up the outside
Exterior cleaning is not a once-a-season task. It’s a little disturbing to arrive at the long awaited vacation home to find the door covered in fly excrement, spider’s webs, and general detritus from a few months of use. Top that with a couple of flower boxes that haven’t been watered in a few weeks and you have a recipe for a poor first impression. Take time to make all the entrances clean and bright and regularly check for a buildup of sand/dirt in door wells that can easily be removed. Shake out the door mat and sweep the front steps. A little extra work on this can make a huge difference to how guests feel when they arrive.
4 Make access easy
I’ve felt a little flutter of panic when an access code failed, or the key didn’t seem to work. When a guest is in an unfamiliar location with no-one around to help, the thought of not being able to get into the property is unsettling. This is the most important aspect of the arrival to get right so check, check and check again, before the next guests are due. Make it easy for them, and they will be thankful for it.
5 Make guests feel welcome and expected
A personalized welcome letter goes a very long way to create a lasting positive first impression. Even if it is a standard letter, the act of using the guests’ names in the greeting can make a great impact. I read a recent review of a property that focused on this aspect of the vacation. The guests said they felt expected, welcome and wanted; three factors that resulted in a 5-star testimonial.
At this point of the summer, I hope this is a reminder to check on these things and make sure your upcoming guests have as good a first impression as those at the start of the season.