Let’s talk about first impressions! Actually, let’s back it up and talk about pre-first impressions. When you’re designing the best possible experience for your guests, it’s important to consider the time between a confirmed booking and your guests’ first step into your home. The ease by which your guests find your unit will play into the mood they’re in when they walk through the door – which can directly affect their review of your rental after the checkout.
We suggest that you craft additional layers of care to help ensure that your STR experiences start out on a favorable note. Here are a few of our favorite tips:
- Create an impossible-to-miss focal point and tell your customers about it in your communications after booking. For example, if your house is on a street with many similar houses, paint your front door a distinct color that stands out from all of the surrounding homes and tell your guests they’ll know they’re in the right place when they see “the bright yellow door.” If your home is situated at the end of a driveway and can’t be seen from the road, paint your mailbox a color that stands out from the landscape behind it. Of course, if your budget and local ordinances allow, a sign at the driveway is even better. But a coat of paint will do the trick!
- Make parking super clear in at least 2 ways. 1) Tell your guests in your email where and how they should expect to park when they arrive and 2) physically mark their parking spaces with paint on pavement or a sign. If possible, use that space to welcome them, with a nice greeting: “Welcome to Our Cottage – Please Park Here!” If you have no control of how your guests will park because of first-come-first-serve street parking, by all means let them know this IN YOUR LISTING. This is not something to wait to communicate after a booking. It could be a deal breaker for folks with disabilities or those who simply do not like to park their car on the street.
- Be aware of obstacles to arriving at your location, whether they are in or out of your control. Fix the things you can and alert your guests about the rest. For example, if foliage is overgrown, making access to your home difficult, have that cleared ASAP. Construction on a nearby street could mean your guests need to reroute from what their GPS will suggest, so include a note about that in your early email communications. If you don’t live near your rental unit, make friends with a neighbor who can keep you abreast of these kinds of details. You don’t want to be caught off guard by a disgruntled guest who could have been easily allayed with an advanced warning.
Pay attention to basic curb appeal in front of your home and surrounding areas. One host mentioned recently that she does a regular litter collection walk up and down her street. So not only does she ensure that her yard is neat and tidy, she’s creating good will among neighbors by keeping the rest of the street tidier, too. Guests may never notice that the other areas are litter-free, but they sure would have noticed if they weren’t!
Short term rentals are a segment of the hospitality industry that gives “regular people” (rest assured those quotes mean we don’t think any of us are actually regular!) a chance to create guest experiences that match and surpass hotel stays. Many times, it’s these little details that take us above and beyond.