The Simple House Manual Your Short Term Rental Needs
Mar 31, 2020
A house manual is a reference point and guide for your home and all it's quirks for your guests. But do guests actual read them? Is this a waste of trees?
It's fair to say that some guests don't read them or even touch them. But it's also fair to say that house manuals are generally boring and impersonal in every way, down to the sterile white binder they are placed within.
So, let's explore some ways to make your Airbnb House Manual more appealing and read worthy for your guests by adding some personality to what is typically boring information. And to make things super easy for you, I've got a free downloadable template to get you started at the bottom of this post.
The Bones of a Short Term Rental House Manual (What To Include):
- A Welcome Message- Make it short (so it is more likely to be read) and personal (to keep it from feeling bland or boring.) Make sure on this front welcome page to list the property address for easy access during emergencies, and the best way for the guests to contact you during their stay. And if you're local to your rental property, place a very short 2-sentence hand-written note right on top of the house manual as a welcome!
- Arrival Info- Some of this info may feel redundant bc the guest may already be in your home by the time their reading this. But it's still a good idea to include info about keys, check in time, and parking info. Place the WIFI info here, big and bold. (I also highly recommend you put the wifi password in a frame right near the entry of your home.
- Emergency and Safety- Assuming you have some out of country guests at some point, it's important to put 911 down as the emergency number. It's also a good idea to include the nearest hospital and the local police non-emergency number.
- House Rules- You're going to have some rules for your home and it's best to be very specific about them with your guests. If your neighborhood has a strictly enforced quiet time, let them know. If you want to ensure smoking doesn't take place on your property, tell them that too.
- About the Home- Your home will inevitably come with a lot of appliances and devices, some of which may be confusing to operate for your guests. Make sure to explain anything that could be tough to figure out on their own, or where certain things are located.
- Check Out Info- Check out time, and specific instructions for what your guests should do upon their departure goes here. Do you want your guests to leave the sheets on the bed? Tell them so. (I highly recommend you have them do this, because spots on sheets are much easier to see and treat immediately for your house cleaner. Or you, if you're doing the house cleaning!)
- The Local Scoop (with your personal recs!) - Okay this is where you should let your personality soar. Everyone has Yelp and Google these days. We can all find out where the internet would suggest we have brunch tomorrow morning. But what we can google is NO WHERE NEAR as interesting as a personal recommendation from you, their beloved host.
So don't just tell them WHERE to go to brunch. Tell them WHY you love that place, and what they should ORDER! 😄
Tips for the Manual
- Keep it Short so it will be read. No one needs a novel to study upon entering a vacation rental.
- Make it feel personal, which is less boring and more likely to be read. Add personal touches wherever you can to make it feel like you're speaking directly to each individual guest. I stayed in an Airbnb once where the host had added a photo of herself to the welcome page of the manual. Even though her photo was also in the app, I thought this added a nice touch inside. That plus her warm welcome in the manual made me instantly feel more at home and very much like she cared about my experience during my stay there.
- (I'd like to add that I don't think it's necessarily a good idea to add your photo to the cover of your printed manual in the home. This may make your guests feel like they're being watched. #bigbrother Go for the first inside page instead if you want to add this personal touch.
- Print it out however you like, but make sure it's in the house. Most commonly hosts tend to print out their typed manual and insert the pages into a white 3-ring binder. I see no real problem with this approach, but I would suggest adding a nice page to the cover of that binder that really lets your guests know you care about their stay. Say something like "Read this Manual to Learn How to Have An AMAZING stay at Our Home!"
Options for How to Share your House Manual:
- Physically in your house, printed out. Feel free to go old school and get one of those white binders from your local office store. Or you can have it printed out and laminated locally.
- Virtually through apps like this: Touchstay
- Through the app you host with, like Airbnb or VRBO. On Airbnb you have the ability to add photos and walk people through the check in process and beyond. This is really useful, especially if your check in could be at all confusing for your new guests.
The Free House Manual Template!
If you just need a jumpstart for your short-term rental house manual, please follow this link to my free template.
IMPORTANT (PLEASE READ): Once you open that link you'll be in a Google Doc. Click File --> Make A Copy. You should then be able to edit and customize that copy to your hearts content!
Happy Hosting! XX
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