Whether you’ve got a portfolio of 1000 properties or you’re letting out your spare room on Airbnb, providing guests with relevant and up-to-date information about your home & local area is a necessity that will save you from answering repetitive questions from guests.

 

Objective

Whatever your medium, the content should come first. The key for preparing a great house guide is to focus on the way you structure information; what does the guest need to accomplish the task they are trying to do, and what will they need next?

Below you’ll find suggestions and templates for writing your house manual.

 

Paper vs. Technology

Paper has a habit of going out of date quickly and, unless laminated, getting rather scruffy. If you’re not on-hand to replace paper copies between reservations, you might be better off seeking a technological solution. Choosing something that you can update from afar is also useful if you’re hosting remotely.

Things to consider, before you deploy a technological solution:

  • Websites are great for updating from afar – but if your internet goes out, your guests can no longer access the vital information they need (this is why our tablet stores all written & video property guides offline, so your guests can always view the guides you’ve added)
  • Are you putting a barrier between your guest and the information you’ve provided? If you’re going to make guests download an app, you’ll need to find one that works for all types of phone (Apple, Android and Windows)
  • We’ve solved both these problems by providing a software & hardware solution that removes all barriers between your guests and the guides you’ve written – your guests can simply pick up our tablet every time they have a question. There’s nothing to download, just answers on a screen.

 

Which Guides Should You Include?

Guests using YourWelcome tablets viewed more than 125,000 property guide views in CQ1 of 2018. See below a list of the top guides, by share of views:

  • Heating & Air Conditioning (6% of total views)
  • Emergency Contacts & House Rules (5.7%)
  • Additional Services (4.2%)
  • Parking (4%)
  • Washing & Drying (3.8%)
  • TV & Entertainment Systems (3.7%)

If you’re just getting started, including those six topics in your house manual will cover the majority of questions. Once you’ve got the basics covered, you can begin to add other topics – we suggest starting with complicated appliances, along with answers to anything that guests have asked you more than once.

 

House Manual & Property Guide Templates

Whether you’re writing guides or planning to record videos, use the templates below to prepare your content.

 

Heating & Air Conditioning

Focus on making this process as easy as possible. Leaving clear instructions that allow guests to quickly identify & adjust the heating when they arrive will help to make them feel at home more quickly. You could invest in a “smart” thermostat that you can monitor/control remotely for peace of mind. Make sure to include out-of-hours phone numbers, using the international format.

Example:

The thermostat is located …

Adjusting the temperature is simple …

If you experience any issues with the heating / air conditioning, please contact us:
9am-6pm: +44 208 123 1995
Out of hours: +44 7584 500 272

 

Emergency Contacts & House Rules

Some people find travelling stressful – providing clear information about who to contact in an emergency helps put minds at rest. Make sure to include out-of-hours phone numbers, using the international format.

Example:

Emergency Contact
In an emergency, please call 911 and ask the operator for the service you require
For non-urgent matters, please call 112

Contact {{Company name}}
If you need to get hold of us, please contact:
9am-6pm: +44 208 123 1995
Out of hours: +44 7584 500 272

 

Additional Services

Offering additional services / selling incidental products is a great way to increase your profits from every booking. It’s easy to offer late check-outs, additional cleaning (for longer reservations) and basic groceries – you can price them speculatively.

YourWelcome has a built-in sales platform, allowing you to take direct card payments – so there’s no need to amend the booking. If you’re not using YourWelcome, we suggest finding a payment provider that will allow you to take card payments from a mobile device.

If you’ve never sold a late check-out, it is possibly the easiest way to generate additional income – and the best part is you can offer it, without being obligated to fulfil anything. See our example below.

Pricing

Rather than a fixed price, we suggest setting an hourly rate (take your nightly fee and divide it by 24). This enables you to offer a flexible service, allowing your guest to request the length of time that suits them.

Operational Process

There are two processes that you need to set up; a way for guests to make a request, and a way of taking payment.

  • Taking requests could be as simple as setting up an email or online form that guests can use to contact you, filling out the details of their request. It’s imperative that this is monitored, so that you can respond to requests as soon as you can.
  • Taking payments requires a little more work – depending on the OTA you could amend their booking, but we suggest finding a payment provider that will let you take card payments through a mobile device.

With both processes in place, you simply need to let guests know that the service is available – this could be as simple as printing something and leaving it in your property, or messaging them during their stay. The more you can do to highlight the availability of your service, the higher the likelihood that they will book.

Quick plug: YourWelcome’s built-in sales platform allows guests to view & make requests, paying directly for them using their card details – we even automatically decline the request if it goes unanswered for too long.

 

Parking

If you offer parking, it’s important to help communicate as much as you can about any potential restrictions or permits. Getting a fine for parking in the wrong place is annoying and could leave you with a negative review.

There’s no such thing as too much information in this situation – even if there are absolutely no parking restrictions affecting your street and the surrounding neighbourhood, it’s worth writing a short guide to let guests know.

Example:

Parking on our street is restricted to permit-holders only between 9am and 6pm from Monday to Sunday. From 6pm you can park on the street without a problem – you can also park for free on Sunday, though the street can be a little busy.

 

Washing & Drying

Rather than leaving the full manual, focus on step-by-step instructions for the most common scenarios:

  • Colour wash
  • White wash
  • How to dry their clothes (either mechanically, or where to find the washing line)

Example:

Feel free to use the washing machine as you see fit, but we’d recommend using programme 3 on the washer for coloured loads and programme 11 for whites. The washer has a built-in dryer – if you want to use that, you need to set the time on the knob labelled “dryer” – 90 minutes will usually dry the clothes to a point where they’re ready for ironing. 180 minutes will leave most items dry.

 

TV & Entertainment Systems

Just like the Washing & Drying, the focus here is not to provide a 308 page manual that explains the appliance in depth. Instead, focus on the key things that guests will want to do – where will they find the remote controls? How do they tune in to the local news? How do they log in to their Netflix account?

Thinking about the guest’s objective will help you to write clear instructions.

Example:

The remote controls for the TV and entertainment system can be found in the draws under the television.

You’ll see a button on the TV remote (Samsung) for Netflix. You can use the guest profile, or feel free to log in to your own account (please remember to log out when you’re done).

 

Get In Touch

I really hope that you have got some value from this article. Do get in touch with me if you’re planning to implement anything I have suggested, or have any questions. My email is john@yourwelcome.com