You’ve got a beautiful home, and you’re ready to welcome guests.
But what does the word “welcome” really mean? If you want to shine as a host, take a moment to really ponder that word – welcome.
What does it take to be a welcoming host?
Working appliances? Yup.
Comfortable furnishings? Yup.
Safe and secure? Yup.
Think harder! These are the 101 elements; the baseline minimum standards, particularly for a modern guest that can find these standards at most chain hotels.
To be welcoming, at least to us at Touch Stay, is what it takes to turn a product into a memorable stay. And that’s all about service.
As a modern vacation rental host your role is about providing a product with a service. It’s striving to make your service every bit as valuable as your product.
We’re going to focus here on one aspect of service: the humble welcome basket. It’s such an obvious opportunity to make that all-important (great) first impression! And, not just obvious, but also a relatively easy way to improve your hosting game and reach next-level hospitality status.
The key to a winning welcome basket is finding universally appealing items that are inexpensive, and easy to restock during turnovers. In short, personable but efficient to execute.
Here are a few welcome basket ideas that are sure to put a smile on your guests’ faces from the moment they arrive.
Welcome Basket Idea #1: A Personal Note
This is the easiest addition to any welcome basket, and quite possibly the item that your guests will appreciate the most. Everyone likes to feel appreciated, after all. This doesn’t have to be hand written. It just has to say hello and to thank your guest for their visit. It might also reference a few goodies that you’ve left. Speaking of which…
Welcome Basket Idea #2: Goodies
There’s no need for a budget busting gesture. Nor for any elaborate, operation-sapping gifts. Just something simple. The traditional bottle of wine is good, but how about thinking less cliché? (Unless you are in wine country of course.)
How about a beer can holder (you know, a fabric or foam sleeve to keep the beer cold)? Better still, with your logo.
What about those guests that don’t drink? There is an increasing segment of people who don’t. What if the wine bottle was replaced by a bottle of local (alcohol-free) apple cider? Or perhaps a packet of 6 macaroons from the local bakery. Hey, maybe the local bakery would even supply you a small sample as an advertising tactic for them.
A fridge magnet that they can take away as memorabilia? Or a branded credit card holder for the back of their phone?
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.
Welcome Basket Idea #3: Essentials
Airbnb practically requires hosts to stock up on the basic essentials like toilet paper, towels, soap, and linens. These items should be considered the bare minimum of what you provide. Make sure you leave enough stock of these items for your guests stay.
A great way to utilize your digital welcome book would be to let guests know what you provide. This way they can refer to it before packing anything unnecessary. You could also use the welcome book to leave instructions on where to find overstock of these items just in case your guests do run out. Getting guests to use the welcome book during their pre-arrival stage positions you as service-oriented from the get-go, showcasing a personal welcome guide to your home and destination.
Whilst you won’t want to be making toilet paper runs for guests, it would be reasonable to keep a decent supply of these essentials, as well as paper towels, dish and laundry soaps, garbage bags, new sponges, and a small assortment of beverages like a few bottled waters and individual coffees or teas with the essential condiments.
Welcome Basket Idea #4: Smart “Extras”
We’ve all been there – you’re on vacation and things are a bit chaotic. You have kids to keep up with, a schedule to adhere to, and you are frantically trying to locate something you need in a pinch 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.
Wow your guests by aiming past the essentials and striving for the extras! Toiletry packs are a smart, simple addition to your welcome basket. Assemble basic kits of travel-sized necessities like: toothpaste/toothbrush, shampoo/conditioner, mouthwash, makeup remover wipes, cotton swabs, hand lotion, tissues, shaving cream, and razors.
You should also consider “just in case” packs with samples of common over-the-counter medications for headaches, stomach aches, allergies, and other common ailments.
Small snack bundles can really be a lifesaver in a pinch, too. Since your guests may be busy scurrying around to local attractions on tight schedules, they would probably appreciate grab and go items to tide them over between meals. Individually-packaged non-perishables like crackers, cookies, mints, and granola bars are just some of the goodies you may wish to consider. Obviously be very careful when considering alcoholic beverages or common allergens like peanuts.
Welcome Basket Idea #5: Reading Material
Keep a few current, mixed-audience magazines on-hand along with a few key local brochures, coupons, and travel guides. These items not only provide light reading material, but probably handy information your guests may find useful during their stay.
Welcome Basket Idea #6: Above And Beyond
If you are dealing with a luxury property or a VIP guest, you may want to consider going the extra mile with a little welcome royal treatment and include welcome basket gifts instead of just the basics. When the occasion calls for it, provide enhanced comfort items like plush bathrobes, slippers, and loofahs or personalized trinkets such as mugs, towels, or a tote bag to use on their adventures around town.
If the stay warrants it, throw in a gift card for dinner at a local restaurant, or an experience at a nearby attraction. In particular, any special access or priority reservation arrangements you can broker with local attractions could really set you apart.
Welcome Basket Idea #7: Personalization
If you have some insight into your guests’ travel plans or any special occasions they may be observing, put that info to use for a thoughtful, customized welcome.
If you know there will be children in a travel party, consider leaving new bath toys, puzzle books, a stuffed animal, nightlight, pool toys, fruit snacks, and juice boxes.
For honeymooning couples, a bath set, flowers and bathrobes.
If you offer a pet-friendly rental, leave a few treats and toys for Fido. It never fails… please the pup, you’ll please the people!
Welcome Basket Idea #8: Make it Work For You Too
Don’t neglect the opportunity for a little promotion in your welcome, too!
You can justifiably market your property or destination in a manner that is appreciated by offering locally-sourced food that represents what your region is known for, simple souvenirs, or branded items that will serve to benefit your guests during their stay ( i.e., beach tote, reusable water bottles, towels, postcards, USB drives).
You can use any combination or variation of the above ideas to create a tailor-made welcome that really lays out the red carpet for the discerning guest, when the time calls for surpassing both necessities and extras.
Whether you have one property or one thousand, every guest deserves to feel welcomed and appreciated. Regardless of your budget, there are ways to be a gracious host without cutting into your profit margin. Nor do those ways need to derail your operational processes.
The most remarkable aspects of your welcome package are sure to relate back to the thoughtful nature of it and your sincere efforts to make each guest’s stay a success.
Surpass your guests’ expectations by creating a digital welcome book customized for your rental and destination. Touch Stay offers user-friendly, digital welcome books that make it easy to connect with, and welcome, every guest. Learn more today.