How do you make sure your guests are hitting that ‘book again’ button as soon as their stay at your rental property ends?
Well, it all starts when they first walk through the door. The welcome you provide for your guests sets the tone for their entire visit.
Whether you manage a BnB or a short-term rental property, rent through Airbnb, Booking.com, or any other platform, a welcome basket can help you to provide guests with a memorable stay. It makes them more likely to book with you again – and even recommend you to other travellers.
In this article, we’re going to outline how what to put in a welcome basket, and how it can help keep your guests coming back for more.
Why should you create a welcome basket for your vacation rental guests?
As a modern vacation rental host, your job is to provide a service with exceptional experience.
To be a highly rated property manager or host, working appliances and comfortable furnishings simply aren’t enough to make you stand out.
The welcome basket is your chance to go above and beyond as you make that all-important first impression on your guests. It shows them that you’re committed to the guest experience, and that you’ve been thinking of them in the lead up to their stay.
There are two key ingredients that any effective gift basket has to include:
These are the essential items that your guests will need to make their stay comfortable.
A personal touch
These are the little extras that show that you’ve been paying attention in your communications with guests.
For a more extravagant welcome, your gift basket can also include some luxury treats – these are the next-level goodies that take your holiday property from pretty great, to outstanding.
Let’s look at exactly what you should include in your welcome gift basket to make your guests’ experience unforgettable.
First: write a personal note to accompany your welcome basket
This is the easiest thing to include in any welcome basket, and it’s often what your guests will appreciate the most. After all, everyone likes to feel like they’re special and unique, and this is your opportunity to show that they are.
Your welcome note doesn’t have to be handwritten. (This could become unmanageable as your bookings increase!). You can use a word template, but aim to inject some personality into your welcome letter, such as:
including a handwritten signature
sharing a fun fact about your property
combining your welcome letter with a digital guidebook (by including a link or a QR code)
tailoring your welcome note to your individual guests (for example, honeymooners, families, couples, parties, etc)
Pick the essentials: what to put in a welcome basket
Airbnb and other PMOs practically require hosts to stock up on the basic essentials, such as:
As guests already expect these basic items to be in the property, try to widen your list of 'essentials'. Keep a decent supply of extra 'essentials', such as:
dish and laundry soaps
individual coffees or teas
These extra items will allow you to put together a more 'luxury' essential welcome basket for each new guest. (Hands up if you forget toothpaste when you travel!)
Use your digital guidebook to communicate what guests need to bring
You can use a digital guide book to let guests know what essentials you provide. This way, they won’t pack the essentials you already offer, and they’re more likely to bring everything you don’t include.
You can also use your digital guidebook to leave instructions on where to find extra supplies just in case your guests do run out.
At Touch Stay, we can help make this part of your guest communication.
Simply send your guests the digital guidebook before they arrive so they can familiarise themselves with your vacation rental property, and see what’s included in their stay. Doing this also shows them what a thoughtful host you are – and sets the tone for a positive experience.
Include items that meet your guests’ unexpected needs
Aside from the essentials, there are many other thoughtful things to include in your welcome basket that will make your guests feel at ease in your home.
Imagine – you’re on vacation and things are a bit chaotic. You’ve got kids having a tantrum, an itinerary to adhere to, and you’re frantically trying to find that little something – only to discover that you forgot to pack it.
Enter the hero host who thought ahead for you, and prepared for this very moment to swoop in and save the day! You may not even know you’ve just earned a cape, but when your guest can say you saved them a trip to the store when they were already in a rush for their dinner reservation, you just earned “super” status in their eyes.
So what can you include to earn hero status in your guests’ eyes?
1. Toiletry packs
Basic kits of travel-sized necessities are a smart, simple addition to your welcome package. You could include:
toothbrush and toothpaste
makeup remover wipes
Any of those small but essential items that a guest might have forgotten to pack.
2. Medication and first-aid essentials
Nobody wants to be ill whilst they’re on holiday, but it does happen. If your guests are in a foreign country, and perhaps don’t speak the local language, the host who saves them a trip to the pharmacy will gain some serious points.
You could include:
over-the-counter medication to treat headaches and stomach aches
cold and flu remedies
You could accompany this kit with directions to the local doctors’ surgery and pharmacy, instructions for making an appointment, and translations for key vocabulary.
3. Snack bundles
Since your guests may be busy scurrying around the local attractions on tight schedules, they’ll probably appreciate grab and go items to tide them over between meals. Particularly if they have small children with them.
Individually-packaged non-perishables like crackers, cookies, mints, and granola bars are just some of the goodies you may wish to consider.
Remember to take care when considering alcoholic beverages, or common allergens like peanuts.
Include extra 'wow-factor' goodies in your welcome gift basket
Once you’ve covered the essentials and your guests’ unexpected needs, it’s time to think about how to really spoil your guests. This is where the wow-factor comes in.
These wow-factor additions to your gift basket may depend on the season, the location of your property, and the type of guests you host. They don’t need to be budget-busting, just some simple, non-functional extras for your guests to enjoy when they arrive. Here are some ideas:
Classic welcome basket gifts
You can’t go wrong with a bottle of wine, especially if your vacation rental property is located in wine country. How about a bottle from your local vineyard?
Or, if there’s a top-notch local brewery, you could include some craft beer. Perhaps you could accompany this with a beer can holder stamped with your logo, for a twist on a classic gift.
What to include if your guests don’t drink
Replace the wine bottle with a bottle of local (alcohol-free) apple cider. Or perhaps a box of macaroons/cookies/cupcakes from the local bakery. The bakery may even supply you with a small sample as an advertising tactic for them.
Souvenirs as welcome basket gifts
Include gifts that will help your guests remember their stay, such as a fridge magnet, postcards, or a bookmark.
For property managers, you could even use this as a marketing exercise, and include branded goodies, such as credit card holders for the back of their phone, luxury pens, or tote bags. (More on this below)
Seasonal treats for welcome baskets
If you’ve got guests spending their Christmas holidays with you, you could gift them some stockings for them to fill up on Christmas morning, or crackers for them to pull at dinner.
Whatever you choose, make sure it’s easy to keep a stock. This way your cleaning crew can just leave the same set out for each new guest.
Include activities and 'things to do' in your guest welcome basket
Whilst most guests will be eager to get out and explore the local area, an important part of any holiday is relaxation time. So, why not include suggestions for indoor activities that guests can enjoy in their downtime?
Keep a few current magazines on-hand, along with a few key local brochures and travel guides. These items provide light reading material and offer handy information your guests may find useful during their stay.
Film and television
In the good ol’ days, you might have included a couple of DVDs in your gift basket. Disney for the kids, and the latest Oscar nominees for the adults.
Nowadays, you can still offer this type of entertainment by offering a streaming service gift voucher or log-in details, allowing your guests to stream during their stay. You could throw in a couple of film recommendations while you’re at it.
If you have any board games or puzzles to keep your guests entertained on rainy days, you could arrange them as part of your welcome basket. Cards, chess – or any other type of games are a great rainy staple for all holiday makers.
Make sure your welcome basket is personalised to your guests
Now we’ve covered the kind of things you can include in your welcome basket – it’s time to revisit “the personal touch”. We touched on this at the start of the article when we looked at how to write your welcome note – and it’s just as important with your welcome basket.
Something we hear all the time from pros in the vacation rental industry is the importance of personalising your guests’ experience. From crafting your welcome note, to upselling, to choosing what to put into your welcome basket, personalisation shows your guests that you’ve been listening to them, and that you care about their experience.
Use what you know about your guests to build their welcome basket
Use your pre-arrival communications with guests to gain insight into their travel plans or any special occasions they may be observing. You can then put that information to use for a thoughtful, customised welcome.
If you know there will be children in a travel party, you might include:
new bath toys
a stuffed animal
For honeymooning couples, how about a bath set, flowers and bathrobes?
If you offer a pet-friendly rental, leave a few treats and toys for the dog. It never fails… please the pup, and you’ll please the people!
Use your welcome basket to upsell to your guests
Welcome baskets offer the perfect opportunity to upsell to your guests – something we know makes your guests and your business partners happy!
Throw in a discount card for dinner at a local restaurant or an experience at a nearby attraction. Any special access or priority reservation arrangements you can broker with local attractions can really set you apart from other hosts.
By wrapping these extras into your service price, you create a luxury experience! This will leave your guests racing to book your holiday property again – and of course, leaving rave reviews. All before they’ve even unpacked!
Use Touch Stay help you to upsell in your welcome basket
Want to make this service even easier for your guests? Use your welcome note to direct your guests to their Touch Stay guidebook. There, you can include information about all the extra services and local discounts you’ve negotiated for them.
This way, your welcome basket and digital guidebook can work together to nudge guests towards those extras – taking their guest experience to the next level.
The key value that you gain from your welcome gift basket comes from the exceptional guest experience.
If your guests receive a positive first impression of your rental property, they’re more likely to repeat their booking and recommend your vacation home to other people.
However, there are other ways you can capitalise on your welcome basket, too.
As well as using it to upsell, you can use your welcome package as an extension of your marketing materials.
Offer locally-sourced food, simple souvenirs, or branded items that will serve to benefit your guests during their stay, such as:
a beach tote
reusable water bottles
This way, they’ll come away with something that they can show their friends as they rave to them about your property!
Make your guests feel welcome with Touch Stay
Whether you have one property or one thousand, every guest deserves to feel welcomed and appreciated – and we hope these welcome basket ideas will help you to improve your guest experience.
At Touch Stay, we’re all about guest experience. We’ve designed our digital guidebook to help you to make your guests happy. After all, happy guests mean rave reviews, and rave reviews mean more bookings for you!
Our digital welcome book helps you to meet all of your guests’ needs.
From your personal recommendations about the best local food and drink, to essential information about household appliances, everything your guests could want to know is there.
Plus, we’ve made it easy for you to customise your guidebook to fit in with your branding.
Touch Stay is the only digital guidebook to store all your content in one single online location, meaning that all you have to do is share the link with your guests to give them immediate access – no sign in or downloads needed.
Sign up for your free trial today, and take your welcome to the next level!