We all know that getting glowing 5-star reviews is important in the vacation rental business. But while you may already be meeting excellent hosting standards — by being communicative, keeping your place spotless, etc — it’s not always enough. How do you ensure guests have a really outstanding experience they’ll never forget? By going just a little bit above and beyond.
Here are 7 things you can do that are simple, cost-effective, and will take you above and beyond as a true 5-star vacation rental host.
Guide books are great, but there’s something extra special about a host who puts in thought around their recommendations and customises them to each guest. This can be as simple as asking them their specific interests, and then offering up a few suggestions based on what you think they might like. Do they love art, for example? Suggest one or two local galleries or art markets. If they like being outdoors, let them know a few of the best local parks or running tracks.
This can even be done via email or messages prior to their arrival, which is especially handy if you can’t be there to do a meet and greet in person.
It’s one of those things that everyone appreciates: being offered a ride from the airport, or to the train station, or anywhere that means you don’t have to battle with Google maps trying to find five different busses. If you can spare the time and have the capacity, offering guests an airport pickup or lift into town is a great way to go above and beyond.
I once arrived in Budapest only to find that a severe storm had arrived an hour or two before me. Public transport was a mess. Rather than leave me stranded, my hosts spent several hours navigating traffic and felled trees to pick me up and drive me to the property. Needless to say, they already had my 5 star vote before I even got inside.
This one is particularly relevant if you’re renting out a room in a shared space. Be extra welcoming: help your guests to feel at home by, say, inviting them to share a meal with you. Of course in this case it’s best to use discretion and get a sense for whether the guest prefers privacy and solitude or social interaction. But if they’re open to it, treating them like part of the family can leave an incredibly positive impression.
Another amazing Airbnb experience I had was in Madrid. My sister and I rented out a room with a local woman who had plenty of room in her house because her children had grown up and moved out. She treated us like long lost family: always putting wine on the table and inviting us to sit and eat with her and her friends. She even made us her legendary slow-cooked Spanish tortilla and gave us a cooking lesson in how to make our own at home. That kind of warmth and willingness to share ones culture made for an experience I’ll never forget.
Travel planning can be stressful and complex, especially when you have rigid check-in and check-out times to deal with. The simple act of being flexible can make life infinitely easier for guests. If they have time to kill between check-out and their flight, even allowing them to store their luggage can be greatly appreciated.
If you don’t have the availability to personally manage the coming and going of guests at varying times, you might think about hiring a service provider like a concierge or property manager to allow much greater flexibility (and zero stress for you).
Is your local area famous for its wines, its traditional pastries, its hand-crafted chocolates? Any small welcome gift you leave for your guests will be doubly treasured if it shows itself to be thoughtful and provides an introduction to the area.
In all the vacation rentals I’ve stayed in, those little regional delicacies and local gifts stick in mind. Port wine in the north of Portugal, a bread basket in Milan, coffee from a local artisanal roaster in Melbourne… Things like these aren’t just gifts, they’re exciting little discoveries waiting to be made. And your guests will love them.
Flowers can be a fast and affordable way to add instant life to your house or apartment. And if you have a garden to draw from, you don’t even need to spend a cent! Adding a few bunches of fresh flowers around the place also gives a thoughtful and human touch.
Last but not least, leaving an extra-good impression on your guests can be as simple as really making yourself available. Let them know that you’ll be there if they need anything; that if they have any problems they can call you and you’ll sort it out. There’s a good chance they won’t even bother you — but they’ll be greatly comforted in the knowledge that you’ll be a responsive and helpful host. And again, if you don’t have the capacity to be available yourself, consider hiring a property manager. That way, you’ll always have it covered.