Whether you’re letting your property on Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia or any other website, a great (not good) house manual does more than serve your guests, it also helps solve problems for you too.
This article explains how you can write a house manual, why you should give people different choices, and how you can make sure people have read the really important bits.
The way to create a great house manual is to think put yourself in the guest’s shoes. What information would you want? What information is needed to “operate” the appliances at your property? Where are the local shops? What should be done in an emergency? etcetera. But you should also consider who will be staying with you: Some people may not bother to read the house manual (and your house rules), some may prefer an offline or online format. Remember that a house manual should make your life simple and the guests’ life simple, so let’s jump into the all-important details:
A house guidebook is important for a number of reasons:
When choosing how to present your property’s guidebook, to my mind you have 3 choices:
I personally favor the first and last options.
Well, a nicely presented folio explaining your property helps to brand your business and looks professional. It is also more suitable for, perhaps, more senior travelers who may not want to look at videos or your website.
I also really like youtube videos. As the saying goes, “a picture tells a thousand words”, well a video tells even more. And the great thing is you can get through a lot more information, far more quickly than in written format, and you can actually “show” people rather than “tell” them.
The videos don’t have to be professionally edited Hollywood blockbusters, they just have to give the information needed. If you’re unsure about the basics of making a video, check this link to help you.
We get countless positive comments on the videos we show our guests. Here are two examples:
Before we even go into what should be in a house manual, let me preface this by saying that I leave a handwritten welcome note on top of the house manual. People love this. It genuinely makes them feel welcome and gets things off to a nice start. (Never forget that nice starts = over-looking of minor problems and nice reviews)
This is the order I suggest people include things in your guidebook, and I do suggest that less is more. People want something simple and easy to digest, be it online or offline:
This is important, as you don’t want to bombarded with calls, especially if you have more than one short term rental. You should include:
Now I fully appreciate that some people might think that getting to your rules at this early stage might upset or alienate some. This is not so in my experience. Since we included this, it has had no impact on our rules whatsoever and if anything has given more clarity on what guests should and should not expect.
The key things you should include here are:
You should include here everything! In order of importance are:
Key things to include are:
This bit is really important. Getting your guests to agree to your house rules will only really matter for 1% of guests, as the vast majority of guests are well behaved, however, that 1% could cause you tremendous problems, so here’s the solution.
Prior to a guest checking in, email the guest a document to be signed electronically which shows that they have read and abide by your house rules.
There are very many different services providers that can offer this to you. I use hellosign.com which sends the guest a one-page document for signature and can be signed on a smartphone or tablet.
This is roughly what it looks like:
Along with charging the guest a deposit (I would recommend $500 or currency equivalent), having them sign something like this will act as a tremendous phycological barrier to poor behavior / following your house rules.
Here’s the text of the document I have people sign (you can download it for free, no forms to fill in) ==> CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD
As usual, I hope you found this post useful.
What do you put in your house manuals? Please let me know in the comments below! I’ll be sure to respond.
With every good wish,