As vacation rental property owners we feel a responsibility to ensure that our guests get the maximum pleasure from their vacation. But we have to draw a fine line as on-site owners between respecting our guests privacy and helping them get the most from their valued time.
When a guest arrives we are well aware that it can be overwhelming after an all day travel experience to be in a new country, a new island, new accommodation. where to go?, what to do?, what not to do?
The answer is a “Welcome to Harbour View” book. It’s there in the lounge for them to read and benefit, as and when they are relaxed; in their own time. So when they arrive we only have to greet them and point out a few basics, such as operation of the air conditioning. How to contact us if they have a question, or are looking for local knowledge.
The Welcome book is divided into chapters.
The first chapter relates to a few house facts. Such as; our internet details. We are on a well so we appreciate guests being frugal with water. That we recommend they use bottled water (where to get it, where to get bottles refilled) for drinking.
The second chapter is about traveling. Guests are advised to rent a car in advance of their arrival. So we remind that we drive on the left. That they should put our phone number into their mobile phone or take one of our business cards so they can contact us if they experience a problem. Similarly they are encouraged to take the welcome book with them.
The third chapter is a comprehensive list of the many beaches that they can visit. Each beach is shown on a map with the distance from our house. So that if they set the mileometer to zero when they leave the home, their beach destination is known to be “x” kilometers away. The beach is described by size, whether there are shells, shade or which is best protected from winds.
The fourth chapter is a comprehensive list of restaurants. Again we give directions, show each on a map, and give the distance. We also enclose a menu in order that they can get some idea of the range of costs and whether they have specialities… asian food….. Bahamian fare. And most important, the contact phone number and which days they might close. There is nothing worse than getting all dressed up and driving 20 minutes to find some restaurant is closed.
The fifth chapter is a list of special excursions that are available. These range from fishing guides (bone fishing is very popular in Exuma), scuba trips, ATV guided tours, kiteboarding lessons, and of course the most popular at present is the “swimming pigs” trip. This is an all day boat trip through several of the nearby tropical islands with stops to see, feed and swim with wild pigs on a deserted island, see and feed wild Iguanas found only in Exuma, to swim with (or not) nurse sharks, and to swim and explore Thunderball Cave, made famous in two James Bond films. An exciting and a trip to remember. Well our book tells you who runs the trip, who to contact, how much it costs, and where to go on the big day.
So what have I learned from writing this story? That I can improve my welcome book.
I can add photos. I can make my welcome book more interesting to my valued guests.
In fact I think I will devote some time to making my book, not just factual and informative, but make it a coffee table book and find out how much it would cost to print and present to our guests as a thank you for staying with us. If the improved version sits on their coffee table it could be talking point with friends and, who knows , maybe a new enquiry??