What is an Airbnb Guidebook?
It all starts with the premise that guests are looking for hosts to help make their stay a little different; more personal than traditional forms of accommodation. As Chip Conley says:
“When an Airbnb traveler heads to Hammerbrook in Hamburg or Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur, with the help of hosts, they are able to see these places through eyes of a local, and embrace the culture in a completely new way.” Chip Conley, Airbnb’s Head of Hospitality [source: BusinessWire]
The Airbnb Guidebook is a neat feature inside your Airbnb listing that helps take this concept and transform it into reality. It allows you, the host, to list local places of interest for the benefit of your guests.
The snag? It stops there.
I’m a host and I’ve tried it. It’s powered by Google Places and is easy to use. But somehow it doesn’t quite have the flexibility or rounded feature set I’d like.
Guests also ask the practical questions: How do I find your place? What’s the Wi-Fi? Where are the keys? And they also often ask how various parts of the home work.
In the increasingly competitive world of accommodation options, hosts need a one-stop solution for delivering information to guests who have booked. Being a professional host is more than offering a local lens.
So What are the Alternatives to the Airbnb Guidebook?
For those that are looking for alternative solutions, the good news is there are many! Our own product, Touch Stay, is one option. But there are a few other alternatives out there, from the more traditional (and simple!) word document, through to mobile apps, and even little stickers with a tech twist!
We’ll cover the following 4 options in this post:
- A simple Word document
- Custom designed welcome guides from Vacation Insiders
- HomeAway’s Mobile Hospitality Manager
- TINE: Video and audio messages
June 2017 update: if you’re looking to go digital then check out our article comparing a few market leading guest welcome book solutions.
If you stumble on any others that you feel we should mention please let us know in the comments field. We’ll check them out and periodically update this post!
Keep it Simple: Word as an Airbnb House Manual
Ok, it’s not the most sophisticated option for the 21C world! Nor is it necessarily the best branding for your trendy loft apartment. However, it is still simple and free to create, and is easy and fast to share with your guests.
With a few tweaks, such as font styling and inserting photos, it can be made to look more polished. To help you over that hurdle, we’ve created a free Microsoft Word template with some simple styling, and all the possible headings that you and your guests might need.
Simply share the box below to unlock it, and then add your own photos and text in the relevant places!
Use this Word doc if you’re looking for a simple way to get a guest welcome book up and running. We’ve included a pretty exhaustive list of potential things your guest may want to know. All you need to do is adjust / add the words and photos relevant to your place!
Tip: Once you have your word doc, save it as a PDF and then upload that PDF to Issuu.com for it to be rendered in an easy-to-read mobile optimised book. You then simply send your guests that link.
Need a Custom Designed Guest Welcome Book?
If you’re looking for something with more design flair, take a look at a custom designed guest welcome book from Vacation Insiders. The prices start at $200, and everything is produced in print-ready format so it could be a printed option, and an email capable format.
The downside is that it’s less of a functional welcome book and more of a coffee table area guide. However, it could complement a more functional “how to” welcome book like the word document above. Place the word document in a binder and have the area guide as a high-gloss companion! After all, it’s hard to make putting the trash out a sexy subject!
Tip: You can mock up something like this (albeit not to the same finish) using Adobe InDesign. It’s not straightforward but, if you have design skills and time (or a friend who does!), you could take the Word doc to a more design-led level with InDesign.
The Native App Route: HomeAway’s Hospitality Manager
Why are we talking about HomeAway in an article about Airbnb guidebook alternatives? Simply because many of Airbnb’s listings are traditional vacation rentals and, if you’re on Airbnb, chances are you’re also on HomeAway. This is especially true if you’re using a channel manager like Rentals United to distribute your place over multiple OTAs (if you’re not, you need to, Rentals United are killing it with efficient distribution!).
If you’re on HomeAway, you should consider their Hospitality Manager app. It allows you to create a guest welcome book in mobile app form. It’s certainly a more flexible option to the Airbnb guidebook. In fact we think this ought to be what the Airbnb guidebook becomes! You can read more about the new crop of digital welcome book apps in this vacation rental app article we wrote last year.
Tech Speak: a native app simply means that you download it from the App store or Play store, unlike a mobile app which connects directly to a website.
How About Leaving Your Guests a Video or Audio Message?
Here’s something a little different from welcome books and apps! The creative minds over at TINE have created a solution that allows you to place little stickers around your home. Your guest scans the sticker and they’ll see you on video right on their phone (or simply audio if you don’t want guests seeing you!).
We’ve spoken to Nedda, one of TINE’s co-founders. She is extremely passionate about their product. In fact, after the call with her, we had a dozen different ideas of our own for using TINE. It goes beyond the mere guest welcome book. For example, add a TINE tag to any precious possessions so that, when they’re found, the finder can quickly reach you! It’s genius and the potential is limitless.
You could stick TINE to a coffee maker, washing machine, or remote control and add a video explaining how the item works. It’ll make for a better guest experience, and it’ll cut down on those calls your guests make trying to get things working!
Tip: Place a sticker on the cover of your guest welcome book or house manual to add a personal video or message for each guest. It’s not so much an alternative to a welcome book, as a complement!
The Airbnb Guidebook: Conclusions
So we’ve rattled on long enough! What do you think? Do let us know if you hear about any other Airbnb guidebook alternatives and we’d be glad to keep adding and updating this post. Whether they are creative solutions of your own, or ideas borrowed from others, we’d love to hear them!