Making sure that your guests feel comfortable in your space and have all the information they need to fully enjoy their stay is your key responsibility as a short term rental host.  Providing a detailed guidebook that welcomes them to your home, orients them to the neighborhood and city, reiterates house rules, and provides instructions for how to work equipment will go a long way toward this goal.  Giving details on how to watch a movie and where to find the corkscrew will help guests feel more at home, and let them know that you care about their stay. A guidebook is a friendly way to convey the facts and details about your space without requiring personal interaction and can reduce the need for texts or calls.

Be thoughtful in how you present the guest information book.  It should be well-organized, up-to-date, clean and professional.  You can use an attractive three-ring binder or have a book created through services such as Blurb.  Avoid throwing together a bunch of unorganized brochures and random slips of paper in a drawer.   Plan to regularly update your book to keep it up to date. 

Curious guests will want to know fun details about your location.  Providing good information will help them feel more like a local.   Include recommendations for great restaurants, coffee shops, and shopping destinations. Let them know the ins and outs of your town, like which restaurant you can’t get into without a reservation or when to go to the local hotspot to beat the rush.  Provide menus for delivery and take out options in case folks want a night in.  

Is there a great trail for walking or running? Be sure to include a map! Let them know insider details like the trail is surrounded by poison ivy  or that the state park requires a donation for entry.  Guests will appreciate you letting them in on the details. 

Guest Information Book Table of Contents:

1. A personal welcome note

Let guests know that you are a real person and that you love your property and want them to feel comfortable and relaxed. 

2. List of helpful local contacts

Include your (or your manager’s) contact information.  If you don’t use a professional management company include a back-up contact if they cannot get in touch with you.  This should be someone local who can get to the property quickly.  

Also include a reminder to call 911 (in the USA) for fire, police or medical emergency (include the address of the unit, because in emergencies they may have forgotten where they are) and the address and phone number of the nearest urgent care and hospital. 

Other useful contacts include:

  • Electric/gas company – In the case of power outages
  • Local news channels and radio stations for weather and other emergency information
  • Emergency veterinary hospital, if you allow pets 
  • Animal control
  • Poison control center
  • Local news channels and radio stations for weather and other emergency information 

3.  House Rules

Even though your house rules are available online and probably been sent to the guests in an email, reiterating them in your guest information book can limit conflicts by reminding guests of the policies and arguing that they were not aware of your rules. 

        House Rules should include:

  • Check-In 
  • Smoking policy
  • Pet policy
  • Quiet hours
  • Parking Instructions
  • Check-Out 
  • Garbage and recycling instructions
  • Subdivision or condominium community rules (if applicable)

4.  How-to Instructions

Wasting time trying to figure out how to use a remote or find the on switch is frustrating, so don’t leave your guests guessing.  Providing clear user information can eliminate frustration. The following items should be included:

  • Property access including lockbox codes (if applicable)
  • Thermostat 
  • Washer and dryer
  • Kitchen appliances including microwave
  • Wifi access including password
  • Power supply locations 
  • Entertainment systems including specific instructions for remote controls including TV, DVD and stereo
  • Special equipment such as a fireplace or hottub

Include details about house quirks.  If you need to turn the faucet a particular direction to get the hot water to function, let your guests know. They will  appreciate having the information and be less frustrated than trying to figure it out on their own. And it also reiterates that you want your guests to feel at home and use the amenities that you’ve provided. 

5.  General House Information

Include a list of the items you provide for your guest’s use.  Let them know how many sets of sheets and towels are provided and where extras are located.  This is helpful because these are items that often inadvertently packed when your guests leave.  If you provide paper goods and cleaning products let them know, if not make it clear in guest information book.  This will avoid extra calls and texts.  

6.   Activities Guide

Share your expertise on the local area and include your favorite things to do and with detailed information on:

  • Shopping
  • Nightlife
  • Activities  such as hiking, golfing, bike rentals and yoga classes
  • Gyms and work facilities
  • Museums, monuments, parks and beaches
  • Dog parks and off-leash areas, if you have allow pets
  • Places of Worship

7.   Food and Drink

Provide an overview of your town’s food scene.  Let your guests know if there specialities that they shouldn’t miss.  Get personal here and provide recommendations for places you love. Think about your brand.  If you cater to families, be sure and provide info and reviews for kid friendly places. If you focus on business travelers provide more sophisticated location and menus for late night delivery.  Include locations and phone numbers of the following:

  • Grocery Stores
  • Farmer’s markets and other local food options
  • Restaurants including sample menus
  • Delivery and take-out options including menus
  • Bars
  • Liquor stores — including hours of operation and limits on time for selling liquor, wine and beer

8.  Getting Around Town 

Help your guests find their way around town.  Provide contact information and/or maps for local transportation services including:

  • Taxi & shuttle services
  • Bus routes
  • Subway and transit
  • Car rentals
  • Airports and train stations
  • Area maps