Make Guest Experiences Go From Good to Great

Posted on October 18, 2018

These days, when people stay in an Airbnb or any other short-term rental, they expect more than a bed and a few amenities. They expect a more hotel-like experience, but without the impersonal service and ambiance. Sure, it’s important to have the basics on hand, such as linens, a coffee maker, and pots and pans: That will get you satisfactory reviews. But go above and beyond and offer something extra, and that will elevate your rental to a 5-star experience.

Here are a few ways to not only be a great host, but to also make your guests’ stays memorable from the moment they open the door to when they check out:

The Welcome

A welcome gift is always a nice touch. Stay away from generic items and stick to local goodies. Many times, guests are in your rental because they want to experience the local area – give them a taste of it as soon as they open the door with items that capture the essence of your community. Locally made soaps, handmade chocolates are just a couple of welcome gifts you can give.

A friendly touch is to check in with them when they arrive to answer questions and let them know you care about the comfort of their stay.


The Kitchen

Of course, you want to make sure you stock the kitchen with the necessities, such as cutlery, dishes, cooking utensils and condiments, and place them where people can easily find them.

After that, think about delighting your guests. How about some coffee from a local beanery? A bottle of wine from the area vineyard? Cookies from a nearby signature bakery? No need to spend a fortune but do highlight the local area’s offerings while showing your guests you care enough to go the extra mile.

One way to do this is to meet with local merchants to create a mutually beneficial partnership. For instance, the local bakery can give you cookies to leave your guests. In return you can make a coupon available to them for more goods from the bakery. That gets them into the store to buy, which is good for the bakery. It’s good for you because you get free or discounted items to stock your rental.

This is a great opportunity to support local business while growing your own. It’s a low-risk, win-win for everyone!

The Décor

Think about your listing on the online platforms. How does your rental look in pictures? It’s helpful to get professional photos taken to show your rental to its best advantage, but the photographer needs something to work with. Even the best photographer can’t make an ugly house look beautiful.

Genevieve Gorder, the host of the Netflix show “Stay Here,” suggests thinking about the “social media moment.” That’s when your guest takes a picture to share on Instagram or Facebook. That’s free publicity for you: Will your décor make it good publicity or bad? Will showing your rental make others want to stay there or want to avoid it? Think of how to make areas of the house social media-worthy: Your home is the star, always make sure it’s camera-ready.

And it goes without saying that your home should be organized and sparkling clean when guests arrive.

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Linens Etc.

While linens are a necessity, they shouldn’t be an afterthought. Do you want to stay overnight in a bed with cheap, scratchy, or threadbare sheets? Neither do your guests. Buy sheets and towels of the best quality you can afford. Have comfortable pillows and warm blankets (if needed). Have extras on hand. Your guests will reward you with quality reviews.

The House Rules

Create an attractive guide to your rental with all the tips and tricks guests may need to know: I once stayed in a place that had a tub with a very unusual shower diverter. It wasn’t a knob and it wasn’t obvious where it was or how it worked. A note about that would have saved me time and a phone call.

Also include any rules of the house, important information about garbage placement and trash pick-up, operation of the thermostat, fireplace restrictions and anything else your may guests may want – or need – to know. Make their stay as frictionless and relaxing as possible.

This is a good place to put phone numbers for not only police and fire, but also any contractors you have who can be called in case of an emergency, such as a broken pipe, heat outage or other problem. At GoNitely, you have a dedicated property manager who lives nearby to take care of all your guests needs. But, if you live far away from the property and don’t use a management service, be sure to have someone guests can contact.


The Tour Guide

As Gorder points out:

“Guests staying in your space want an experience, and your rental property should reflect that. Use the amenities, recommendations, and home decor to tell a story — not just of your space but of the location, too.”

If you have spent a lot of time in the area or live locally, you can serve as a sort of tour guide for your guests. You probably know the best-kept local secrets and the events and activities that are part of the local experience. Don’t just include menus from area restaurants, make recommendations; include brochures, but provide tips and tricks about the local attractions to help make your guests’ experience easier.

Share information and recommendations about the best neighborhood shops and keep an (updated and current) calendar of local, seasonal events, with information about where to get tickets and a map. Whether it’s the Artichoke Festival in Monterey or the Lake Arrowhead Oktoberfest, help your guests discover unique experiences they might not be aware of otherwise.


After your guests leave and you’ve checked the property to make sure everything is in order, send them a thank-you note and encourage them to leave a review on the booking site. The better and more reviews you have, the more bookings you will get. Make sure their experience is worth a 5-star review.


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