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The complete guide to digital guidebooks

If you’re a host in the vacation rental industry, you’ve probably already heard the buzz around digital guidebooks. 

Also known as house manuals, digital welcome books or digital guest books, these online guest books are soaring in popularity and are fast becoming the must-have tool for optimising guest experiences.

But whether you’ve heard of them or not, you may still have questions about how they work and how they can enhance your business. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about digital guidebooks, including:

Read on to discover everything you ever wanted to know about digital guidebooks.

What is a digital guidebook?

A digital guidebook, welcome book or guest book, is an online version of the traditional guest books that have lurked in the corners of holiday homes for decades. It includes things like information about the property, check-in and check-out procedures, and things to do in the local area.

The key difference is that a digital guidebook hosts all this information online. This offers huge benefits to you as a host, and most importantly, your guests. In fact, digital guidebooks have been proven to improve guests’ holiday experience – just read some of the reviews from guests who have used Touch Stay.

digital guidebook on phone

What are the benefits of a digital guidebook for hosts and guests?

There’s a reason digital guidebooks are increasing in popularity in the vacation rental sector. They offer both hosts and guests a wide range of benefits that enhance the experience for everyone involved, which is good for business!

These benefits aren’t just nice-to-haves. They’re tangible and can have a positive impact on your business from both a revenue and management perspective. 

Let’s explore these benefits of digital welcome books in more detail. 

Digital guidebook benefits for hosts

Investing in a digital guidebook is a great way to improve your guests’ experience while simultaneously making the management process easier for you. Digital guidebooks make a lot of the more mundane and time-consuming tasks a lot easier for you to manage.

Digital guidebooks:

  • Save you time
    • Automated communication with your guests means you don’t have to chime in every day of their trip 
    • Easy to edit sections make uploading changes fast and simple 
  • Improve your relationship with your guests 
    • Regular communication and the right information can help evoke trust between you and your guests
    • Good relationships with guests lead to happy guests who leave great reviews.
  • Help you get repeat business
    • Happy guests return and/or recommend their holiday home to a friend – making digital guidebooks a key player when it comes to getting repeat business.

In addition, digital guidebooks are also: 

  • Easy to update 
    • Meaning you’ll never have outdated information, recommendations or instructions
  • Easy to maintain 
    • Meaning no sticky book covers, ripped pages or missing pamphlets. Also, they’re far more hygienic!
  • Easy to brand and design 
    • Meaning you can keep your business’ branding fresh and up-to-date all the time 

Digital guidebook benefits for guests

The benefits of digital welcome books for guests are a huge reason why they’re becoming more commonplace in the vacation rental market. A good digital guidebook can help craft your guests’ experience into a truly unforgettable one. 

It can do this in lots of ways, but mainly it helps you by:

  • Answering questions that help your guests navigate their stay with ease and enjoyment
    • Which keeps them happy and informed and making the most out of their time 
  • Allowing you to inject your own brand and personality into the communication
    • Which makes your guests feel comfortable, familiar and special 
  • Enhancing communication between you and your guests
  • Being easily accessible
    • Meaning your guests can access the digital guidebook wherever they are (at Touch Stay, we’ve even made them available where there’s no wifi or data coverage)

If you’re looking for some digital guidebook inspiration, you can head to our example guides.

digital guidebook on phone

How can a digital guidebook enhance your holiday rental business?

Now you understand the tangible benefits of digital guidebooks, you might be wondering if they’re right for your type of vacation rental business.

The good news is, whether you own one or two holiday homes, a suite of vacation rentals, a glamping site, a B&B, or even an RV or motorhome, digital guidebooks will enhance your business. Let us explain what they can do for each type of vacation rental. 

Digital welcome books for vacation rentals

A welcome book has come to be an expected part of the holiday experience, especially for condo and villa holidays. Even hotels, holiday homes and B&Bs rely on welcome books to communicate with their guests. So, you might think that having a physical version of the welcome book is enough.

But by making these guidebooks digital, you enhance what is already expected. As explained, you allow your guests access to all the information they need at any point during their trip, while also giving yourself more control over the routine elements of hosting.

For hotels, B&Bs, and holiday homes, digitising your welcome book can also offer specific perks, including: 

  • reducing the time you spend communicating with your guests  
  • easily clarifying common questions about the room or rental property
  • helping streamline the check-in/out process with automated emails and FAQs
  • offering translated content into guests’ native languages
  • reducing congestion at the front desk (for hotels and B&Bs)

Digital welcome books for motorhomes, campervans & RVs

digital guidebook for campervans

When the global pandemic placed a tight hold on international travel, holidaymakers around the world began finding new ways to seek adventures. As a result, RV and campervan rentals have increased in popularity, offering guests a unique, exciting experience without leaving their home turf. 

But, even an experienced campervan enthusiast will have questions about the vehicle and where they can go with it, let alone newbies. So, if you’re a campervan host, this is where a digital guidebook can come in very handy.

digital guidebook for RVs and campervans can help you communicate everything your guest needs to know about the vehicle and how to maintain it, such as:

  • how the kitchen appliances work
  • where the engine is
  • how to fill the RV with fuel
  • how to unfold the bed
  • what to do if you break down
  • where the spare parts are
  • how to fit the snow chains 

It can also help clarify questions about what your guests can do with the campervan, such as: 

  • what are the most popular driving routes near me?
  • where are the approved places to park overnight? 
  • where can I camp in my local area?

In this sense, a digital guidebook can act as the perfect hybrid between an RV manual and a holiday welcome book. It can answer all your guests’ questions about the vehicle as well as explaining how your guests can get the most out of their time in it. 

Check out our blog: 8 tips for renting out your RV.

Digital welcome books for glamping sites 

Glamping has enjoyed a huge increase in popularity over the last decade and is expected to grow at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of over 11% during the period 2019-2025. On top of that, much like the RV and campervan market, glamping sites have also provided safe holiday options since the start of the pandemic.

digital guidebook for glamping

If you’re the host of a luxury camping destination, a digital guidebook for a glampsite is a great way to make sure your guests understand your accommodation, whether it’s a bell tent, yurt, tipi, shepherd’s hut or a safari tent. It can also help them navigate and understand the entire campsite as a whole.

A digital guidebook can help glamping guests understand:

  • how to close/secure their accommodation type
  • where the showers and toilets are 
  • where to buy supplies 
  • where to wash up/do laundry 
  • the general campsite rules and guidelines

Read our blog on how to easily create a digital guidebook for your glampsite

Is a digital guidebook really better than a normal one?

If our list of benefits hasn’t convinced you that digital guidebooks are important, then let the rate of modern-day digitalisation convince you instead.

Consumers are becoming increasingly familiar with digitalisation across all vacation services and products. Airports, check-ins, car rentals, excursions – all of these areas are becoming digital and fast, so remaining “analogue” in your communication could put you behind your competitors when it comes to meeting your guests’ expectations. 

Digital guidebooks are a natural transition from the traditional and limiting physical versions of holiday home handbooks and vacation rental manuals, and will come to be expected in the coming years. It’s time to get ahead of the curve! 

What to include in your digital welcome book 

When it comes to filling out your digital guidebook, it’s a case of putting anything in there that you think your guests will find useful. Remember – you can update and edit the information whenever you want or need to, so it’s always a work in process.

This might include the following information: 

  • An outline of the check-in process, including:
    • the time that the property will be available from
    • directions to the property
    • public transportation options to arrive at the property
    • what the weather will be like when they get there 
    • Information about children’s equipment rental
  • A house/RV/glamping site manual, including detailed information about the space, such as: 
    • the Wi-Fi password
    • information about smart devices (Google Home, Alexa, etc.) 
    • the house/campsite rules
    • extras that are included (salt, cooking oils, etc.)
    • information about any added benefits such as pool access or fire pits
  • An outline of the departure process, including:
    • check-out procedures
    • how to leave the house 
    • where to leave the garbage 
    • information about airport transfers
  • Information about places to eat and drink, including:
    • insights on local eateries, cafes and bars
    • menu recommendations
    • details about dietary restrictions
  • Information about activities and attractions in the local area such as:
    • local hikes
    • famous landmarks 
    • water sports/adventure sports 
    • local theme parks 
    • museums 
    • shopping 
    • your own personal recommendations!
  • Information about local amenities, such as: 
    • local shops and grocery stores
    • smaller 24/7 convenience stores 

Extra digital guidebook features you might like to include

While digital guidebooks serve the important practical purpose of providing guests with all the information they need for their stay, they also have huge potential as a communication and relationship-building tool between you and your guests.

You can use your guidebook for so much more than just practical recommendations. Why not think about including some of these features:


  • Encourage guests to purchase your add-on packages, like wine packages, spa treatments, or exclusive excursions. You can promote these special offers directly in your digital guidebook
  • Promote your own branded merchandise, like t-shirts, hats, or local products. Add images and descriptions to tempt guests
  • Point guests in the direction of local businesses who provide a discount or commission for promoting them. That's a win-win!

Guest feedback and relationship building

  • Build pre-stay excitement by embedding virtual video tours of your property or local area. These give guests a taste of what's to come
  • Gauge First Impressions by sending a quick survey after check-in so you can rectify any issues during the critical first moments of their stay
  • Entertain guests by sharing tailored Spotify playlists matched to their interests or the local area
  • Capture guest emails in a friendly, non-intrusive way so you can stay in touch before, during and after their trip. Send inspiration for their next visit

Marketing opportunities

  • Add your digital guidebook to your website so potential guests can get a feel for your property before they book
  • Share sample sections on social media to showcase your property and local area
  • Hide sensitive info like access codes and Wi-Fi passwords that are for confirmed guests only

How to get started with your digital guidebook 

By now you’ll have a clear understanding of:

  • what a digital guidebook is
  • how they can transform your vacation rental business
  • and what information you should include in it

Now it’s time to get started on making your very own digital guidebook. 

At Touch Stay, we've been perfecting our digital guestbook software for years, and it’s now the most affordable and dynamic option on the market. And the best part is, you can get started on yours for free! 

Follow these four easy steps and you’ll have your very own digital guidebook to share with guests by the end of this article!

Step 1: Click on one of the 'Free trial' buttons on the Touch Stay Homepage.

digital guidebook

Enter your name and email, choose a password, and click 'Create Account'.

digital guidebook

Congratulations! You're now officially a Touch Stay Rock Star! Click 'Get Started' to begin creating your digital guidebook.

digital guidebook

Step 2
: Choose your template from the list of  different vacation rental types on the drop-down menu.

digital guidebook

Depending on the type of template you've chosen, let us know how many homes/rooms/pitches/vehicles/etc. you have.

Screenshot 2023-12-11 at 11.40.47 am

Now it's time to give your digital guidebook a name. Enter the name and country and click 'Next'. 

digital guidebook

Add the location/address of your property and click 'Finish'.

Screenshot 2023-12-11 at 11.54.17 am

Step 3:
You'll then magically find yourself on your Touch Stay dashboard to start creating your digital guidebook.
Don't forget, we're always on hand to help, so if you get stuck on anything, simply click the 'Touch Stay Helper' on the bottom-left of your dashboard.

digital guidebook

Click 'Content Hub' in the dashboard's top navigation bar to see your digital guidebook's Categories, Subcategories and Topics. Many of these are pre-filled for you - you just need to edit them with your own info.

Spend a little time looking around and discovering where to find things. 

Tip: add as much relevant information as you can, and don't forget to add beautiful photos and/or videos!

digital guidebook

digital guidebook

Step 4:
When you're ready, share your digital guidebook with your guests!
You can do this easily by sending them a Quick Share Link, a QR code, or an Invitation using Memo - all accessible from your dashboard.

digital guidebook

Remember – all the choices shown on the screenshots are examples to help you to get started. Everything you see can be edited, so you can add your own text, photos, videos and links.

Touch Stay #MakeGuestsHappy 

At Touch Stay, we understand how important it is to keep your guests happy. Happy guests equal a thriving business! That’s why we’ve worked hard to create a dynamic digital guidebook that meets all your guests’ needs – while not taking up your precious time. 

Unlike other digital guidebooks on the market, Touch Stay stores all your content in one single, secure online location. Our mobile web app then packages that content to make it beautiful and easy-to-access. All you need to do is share the link with your guests and they’ll have access straight away –  no sign-ins or downloads needed. Magic! 

So, why not give us a try? Try us free for 14 days by creating your free account.