short term rental marketing / vacation rental marketing

Get Guests Engaged with Your Memorable Guest Book

Memorable first impressions make guests feel pampered and engaged. Happy guests give great reviews, so let’s talk about how to make a guest book for your short term rental property.

Make a memorable guest book

I’ve stayed in a dozen Airbnb’s but only a few have provided a guestbook. Only one was in-depth and memorable. You’re familiar with the hotel guestbook. It’s usually placed prominently on a desk or dresser, is leather bound and contains multiple pages of service offerings and local information. In fact in my former advertising career I designed hotel guestbook covers and in room menus for tropical resorts. Think of it as a guidebook to your home and neighbourhood.

What’s the guest book’s function? Very simply,  to give directions and instructions, such as

  • where to find the thermostat controls
  • how to call into the front desk
  • what hours the pool or dining room was open
  • where to find the elevator
  • local restaurants and pubs

You get the idea. The guest book serves as an encyclopaedic reference guide to everything a guest might need to know to get the most out of their stay. There’s a reason why hotels provide these guest books. It’s called hospitality! It’s a golden opportunity to make your guests feel welcome. It can also help curb those midnight calls when they can’t find the extra blanket you left.

Making guests feel confident and well informed shows your thoughtfulness. The extra benefit? Great reviews and re-bookings!

What to Include in Your Custom Guest Book:

Property Instructions

  • how to contact you or your co-host directly
  • instructions on where to find room temperature controls and how to work them
  • instructions on how to operate the stove or oven (don’t assume foreign guests are familiar with yours!)
  • instructions on how to operate a washer or dryer if available
  • where to find cleaning equipment (don’t forget to provide cleaning supplies and brooms for those guests who like to clean up after themselves)
  • where additional towels, linens and bedding are stored (such as extra blankets)
  • where to find soaps, shampoo or dishwashing liquid
  • how to lock up properly when leaving
  • coffee, tea or pantry supplies you’ve provided
  • what to do with recyclables and trash
  • how to operate TV, internet or cable and remotes
  • wifi and internet passwords are a must

House Rules
This page is where you’ll add any house rules you’d like guests to abide by. Such as taking out trash, locking and cleaning up, or no extra guests without permission. Be specific!

Local Recommendations

  • your favorite local cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs
  • local shopping destinations or recommended stores
  • where to find local grocery stores (important if your flat has a kitchen!)
  • interesting nearby places for fans of history, culture or sport

Local History
Is your property in a unique location or does it have some historical background? Play it up! Dig up some history of the building, the neighbourhood or the town and share with your guests.

How to create a memorable guest book:

There are two ways to go about creating a guest book. Traditional and tech. Here’s both.

  1. is the traditional “book” or binder you’ll fill with pages. You’ll need access to a computer, a word processing program and a printer. You’ll create all of your documents in a word processing program like Word and then print and insert into plastic sleeves of a binder.

Here’s how to create your property instructions:

Create a Word, Notes or Pages document to input all of your property instructions. I suggest a separate page for each category. Feel free to itemise under headings such as:

  • “Comfort” – heating and cooling, extra blankets etc
  • “Contact Us” – your phone, email and contact info or that of your co-host or cleaner
  • “Clean” – everything related to cleaning or staying clean, such as washing machine and cleaning suppies
  • “Kitchen” – how to operate the stove, dishwasher. Where to find additional pantry supplies.
  • “TV | Cable | Internet” – how to operate the TV, where to find internet modem or router and passwords
  • “Before You Leave” – how to lock up, windows etc and where to put trash
  • “House Rules” – be specific about what you expect guests to do before they leave

Then do the same for each of the other categories such as House Rules, Local Recommendations, Local History, etc. Be sure to print to the same page size as your binder pages. Add a little color or some images especially if you’re giving detailed instructions on how to operate a thermostat. You can take photos with your phone or camera and insert them into your document.

The best sort of binder is a 3 ring binder with a plastic cover. Once you’ve added your pages to the binder (it helps to have a 3-hole punch ) then simply design a nice cover for your short term rental property, print it and insert behind the cover.

The tech method to create a guestbook 

2. The second method is to invest a little money on a Samsung tablet or iPad that will stay in your property. Connect it to your wifi and then secure it with a locking system.

You’ll still create the documents for your property instructions in Word or a note program, but you’ll do it on the tablet. Save as a PDF and then save it to the home screen of the tablet and voila. Don’t forget to give your file a distinctive name so guests can easily find it such as “Everything you need to know about 1200 5th St.”

Here comes the good part. Those restaurant, shops and local history recommendations? Just search online, bookmark and save to the home screen of your tablet. Once again be sure to name each link so guests can identify what it is.

An alternative to saving each recommendation individually is to create another Word or note document, then copy and add the links into that document and save that file as a PDF to your home screen.

Here’s how to save to the home screen on Chrome.

  1. Once you’ve pulled up the page you want to save, tap the 3 small dots in the upper right corner of your browser window.
  2. Tap on Add to Home Screen.
  3. A window will pop up and you can type in your description instead of what’s provided.

Here’s how to save to the home screen on Safari.

  1. Once you’ve pulled up the page you want to save, tap the share box. It’s the one with an arrow pointing straight up in the upper right corner of your browser window.
  2. A box will pop up where you can share it, add a bookmark or Add to Home Screen (you may have to roll your finger to swipe it to the left).
  3. Once again you have the option of renaming the link to make it shorter or to personalise it.

My recommendation is to find a way to create a welcoming entry point for guests. A large blackboard where you can get creative and write out the name of your rental property a la “The Vintage Rose Cottage” with a big WELCOME to your home from home.

Perhaps you could also add the wifi password for guests who are gasping to log in.  Install your guest book here as well, whether it’s a lovely binder or a techy tablet securely fastened to the desk or wall.

Now you’re cooking! You’re starting to look like an expert hotelier and guests will love you for it. Don’t forget to “brand” your cover and home screen with your property name, logo and image.

Of course if you need help setting this up or creating your guest book, just shoot me a note!

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