How do you avoid spending all of your time answering guest queries, whilst still making sure that your guests know everything they need to know?
We recently invited our Touch Stay customers to share their questions and ideas about communicating efficiently with guests. We wanted to find out how they strike a balance between time-saving strategies, and effective communication.
As we’re all painfully aware, there are only so many hours in the day. You’ve got a million and one things to do, and you hear that “ping!”. It’s a guest, asking how to turn the heating on – but you told them how to do that in the welcome email!
By maximising the efficiency of your guest communications, you:
free up more of your time for other things
ensure that your guests feel prepared for their stay
increase the likelihood that they will follow your instructions
Use a vacation rental guidebook to communicate more efficiently with your guests
We’ve got the inside scoop on how you can keep your guests well-informed, without spending all day responding to questions.
1. Work out what you actually need your guests to do
There’s no point in desperately trying to get your guests to understand that you need them to do something, if there’s actually another solution.
For example, Tyann Marcink, our Community Ambassador, no longer asks her guests to take out the rubbish. Instead, she pays the local rubbish disposal service to pick it up when possible. By drawing on the resources she has around her, Tyann avoids relying on her guests, and makes their stay even more relaxing.
2. Make it easy for your guests to do what you need them to do
When you do need your guests to do something, make it super easy for them.
A good example here is recycling. Graham Stow highlighted that many guests don’t recycle whilst they’re on holiday – it’s too much effort for them to get their head around a different system for such a short amount of time.
If you make it easy, however, you’ll only need to communicate your recycling processes once to get guests behaving more sustainably. Just stick one bin for mixed recycling in plain sight, which you can then sort after their stay.
Your guests have their holiday brain switched on, so limit the amount of thinking they have to do!
3. Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself when communicating with guests
If it’s something really important, multiple channels of communication help to hammer the information home.
Andy, our CEO, suggests that this is especially useful when it comes to time-sensitive tasks, such as putting out the rubbish. You can combine:
a text reminder
a laminated message next to the bin
a section in your vacation rental guidebook
a paragraph in an email
Each of these methods can either be automated (email and text templates), or rely on a task that you only have to complete once (editing your guidebook; laminating your message).
They approach your guest from all angles, and maximise the chances that they’ll remember to put the rubbish out on the right day.
4. Use technology to support your guest communications
Tyann uses Minut, a noise level monitoring system, to keep an eye on how loud her guests are being. She lays out clear boundaries before they arrive, telling them what levels of noise are acceptable at what times. If their noise levels creep up, Tyann contacts them.
When we contact guests to ask them to lower the noise levels, almost every single time, within thirty seconds, the noise level is down and they’ve replied: “we’re so sorry”
Technology provides you with the mechanisms to communicate your boundaries to guests.
It’s important to tell guests when you’re using tech to monitor their behaviour
Tyann notes that it’s crucial that you tell your guests if you’re monitoring their behaviour. Ensuring that guests understand the technology you’re using is crucial for building trust and respecting the boundaries of both parties.
Vacation rental guidebook technology
A Touch Stay digital guidebook helps you to communicate efficiently with your guests by containing all of the information they need in one place.
From arrival instructions and WiFi codes, to recommendations for local restaurants, your digital vacation rental guidebook answers your guests’ questions before they even ask them. Its intuitive design means that guests can easily navigate between sections depending on what they need.
5. Inject some personality into your guest communications
It might seem paradoxical for us to encourage you to use technology, and then tell you to infuse your communications with some personality, but at Touch Stay that’s what we’re all about! We combine the efficiency of technology, with the human touch that’s so crucial in hospitality.
An injection of humour grabs your guest’s attention and makes it more likely that they absorb what you’re telling them, meaning you only have to tell them once. Check out our article on the art of effective communication for more detail on how to use humour in your communications.
6. Show your guests that you care about their experience
You don’t have to physically greet every single one of your guests, or spend half an hour on the phone with them when they arrive (which could feel slightly overbearing!). You just need to use your communications to show your guests that you’re available, and that you want them to have a good experience.
Tyann sends her guests a quick text on arrival, to let them know that she’s there and that she’ll respond to any questions or concerns. This is a quick, easy way to make your guests feel looked after as soon as they arrive.
7. Use all the guest communication resources available to you
Think about all the different types of guests out there – each of them likes to communicate slightly differently. If your communications can hit multiple different channels (phone call, text, email, platform messaging, digital vacation rental guidebook), then there’ll be something for everyone.
But, you’re far more likely to be under-communicating than over-communicating. Some hosts worry that they’re already doing too much – we encourage them to do even more! Keep each communication short and sweet, don’t drown your guests in unnecessary detail, but keep in regular contact with them.
Don’t waste your pre-arrival window of opportunity
Don’t go radio silent between booking and arrival. There’s so much information that you want to give your guests, and that they want to hear – take advantage of this opportunity!
Most of my experiences of staying somewhere is that the person I’m staying with doesn’t communicate: it’s once on booking, and then almost at the time that I’m about to show up. But there’s nothing in between. It’s that moment of tumbleweed, that deserted town. It feels very much like that as a guest. It’s such a shame – there are so many opportunities to communicate. And given that there are so many things that you want to communicate, it’s nice that you’ve got this whole span between booking and arrival
9. Use your digital vacation rental guidebook!
A digital welcome book is a fantastic resource to help you communicate efficiently. You just send the link to your guests, and they’ve got everything they need to know in one handy app.
Touch Stay digital guidebooks allow you to create deep links to specific sections. Tyann suggests that you include one in your response any time a guest asks a question.
Someone can’t find the WiFi password? No need to type it all out, or give them instructions about exactly which corner the router is hidden in. Just send them a deep link to the relevant section in your guidebook. Sorted!
Interested in making your guests happy and saving yourself time?
10. Ask your guests how you can improve their experience
Sometimes guests need a bit of encouragement to come to you. You don’t want them to stay quiet about a problem during their stay, only to vent in the reviews section once they leave.
Efficient communication isn’t about limiting communication – it’s about making sure that every interaction is valuable for you and your guests. And real-time feedback is valuable for everyone.
Donna Martinez summed it up well: in the same way that servers in a restaurant ask you how the food is, a host should occasionally pop up to ask guests how their stay is. This encourages guests to communicate with you, so that you can immediately address any concerns they might have.
11. Motivate your guests to look at your digital guidebook
Before they leave for their holiday, your guests’ brains are crammed with last-minute travel details and final to-do lists. When they arrive, they immediately want to switch off. Both of these states make them less likely to read your digital guidebook.
You need to persuade them that it’s worth their time, because it is! Hit them with the “what’s in it for me”. This could involve a treasure hunt through your guide, with the promise of an offer at a local restaurant if they can find the code. Or, it could involve some punchy pre-arrival communications.
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Try the Touch Stay digital guidebook
Here at Touch Stay we know that communication is at the core of the guest experience. When guests receive valuable, well-timed info they have a great experience, which means great reviews for you!
Your digital vacation rental guidebook contains everything your guests need to know, including all the key info about your property, and your local recommendations.
Plus, we’ve designed it to save you as much time as possible. We include a starter template to help you get up and running, tags so that you can easily replicate content between guidebooks (if you create more than one), and deep links to easily direct your guests to the relevant section.
Start your free trial today, and take your guest communications to the next level!