It may be late February, but all our locals are booked for one special weekend in May.   Durham is home to Duke University and North Carolina Central University, not to mention being near the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State Universtiy,  and all of these schools have their graduations on the same weekend, which is also Mother’s Day! This means demand for short term rentals are super high, and nightly rates are often triple, sometimes even quadruple, an average night. This is an opporutnity to really impress, rather than an easy chance to phone it in when it comes to hospitality for your guests.   

The plethora of celebrations that weekend make doing anything normal in town nearly impossible. Anything from dining out to walking through the public gardens will require some amount of planning and patience with crowds.  So while it may seem early, now is the time to plan and act, because a few small preparations can pay off on the big weekend.  

Here are a few ideas of how to help your guests have a great weekend so they’ll give you a great review:

  • Send an email ahead of time and let your guests know that getting  restaurant reservations may be difficult at the last minute. Send a few suggestions for places that can handle large parties and encourage them to make reservations well before they come to town. 
  • Make a few recommendations for special places for photographs and include the name of a professional photographer who can be booked in advance, and will certainly appreciate the referral.
  • If you allow parties in your rental, provide a list of caterers or priveate chefs who can come cook in your home for a graduation party.  
  • Let them know how they can expect to get to campus during graduation.  There is never enough parking on any campus. Let them know about school-sponsored shuttles, a limo company that can provide a van for a larger group, or the locations of a secret but nearby parking lot.  
  • At check in, provide a few graduation themed welcome gifts.  Here in Durham, our local bakery, The Mad Hatter, has awesome mortar board cookies, which are a great option. Any university themed gifts are appreciated during the special weekend.

As always, it’s the little details that make for a great stay.  

Do you have other ideas for hosting a great graduation weekend?  Let us know!