Hostfully Review: Improve Guest Experience with a Personalised Online Guidebook
Hostfully is a tool that you can use to create a beautiful online guidebook that is easily shared with your Airbnb guests. By providing information like check-in instructions, directions and local recommendations, your guests will have a better experience. This leads to better reviews. You will also receive fewer questions, saving valuable time. In this Hostfully review you can learn about the different features and how it works.
Communication is an essential part of guest experience. No matter how brilliant your Airbnb is, if you don't communicate well with your guests, you may receive some mediocre reviews. The reason why communication is so important is that it builds trust. Guests want to feel comfortable knowing that they can rely on their Airbnb host. Providing a comprehensive, professional looking guidebook, is a solid step in that direction.
What is a guidebook?
A guidebook is a document that contains information about your Airbnb. It is typically shared with guests after a booking has been made. It is different from the guidebook that you can include in your Airbnb listing. It should contain all the information your guests need for their stay, including private information that you don't want to share publicly on your Airbnb listing.
There are different ways to deliver a guidebook to your guests. A lot of hosts simply send an email. Others use a word document or a PDF. There is nothing wrong with these delivery methods. However, emails and documents tend to get lost. Or worse, they may not even get noticed. This leads to unnecessary questions from your guests and sometimes even issues with the check-in process.
An online guidebook stands out and is easily accessible online. Once you receive a booking, you simply send the URL of your guidebook. Guests can access it on mobile phones, iPads and laptops. They can also print out the guidebook, which I recommend you advise your guests to do. As a result, your guests are more likely to consume the information that you are providing. Consequently, you receive fewer questions which saves time. And you prevent misunderstandings that can occur when guests don't ready your info.
Why would you use an online guidebook?
The purpose of an online guidebook is threefold.
1. To provide information to your guests
This is important because there are a number of things a guest needs to know to feel comfortable traveling to your city. Arrival and check-in instructions for example. But it goes beyond just that. Half of the fun of going on a trip or vacation, is looking forward to the experience. By providing local recommendations such as your favourite coffeeshop or your friend´s hidden art gallery, you help the guests visualise and get excited about their stay. The guest experience starts the moment the booking is made, not when the guests arrive.
2. To ensure that the information is easily accessible and digestible
If you've been hosting for a while, you probably have noticed that guests tend to not read all the information that you provide. This can lead to disappointed guests and a frustrated host. For example, you may state in your guidebook that your street can be noisy at times. If your guests didn't read this, they don't expect it and as a result it may affect their experience in a negative way. You might even get a subpar review. That is super frustrating, because it is not your fault. The guests are to blame, but what can you do.
In order to prevent these type of situations, you want to maximise the chance that your guests consume the information that you provide. The best way to do this is to make it easy and enjoyable for them to do so.
If you send them one massive paragraph of text, chances are they stop reading after a few sentences or quickly scan over it. If you send them an online guidebook that they can open on any device, that's easily printable, that is well designed and formatted with lots of photos, you have a much better chance the information will get absorbed.
3. To present the information in a well designed format that makes you look professional
The first two are obvious, but don't underestimate the importance of the image you portray to your guests as a host. Guests are dependent on their hosts for their experience. Think about the impression you make on a guest in the following situation.
A guest books your Airbnb. Within a few seconds, the guest receives a welcome message (that you can automatically send using Smartbnb or iGMS) containing a link to a beautifully designed guidebook that has all the information the guest needs for a flawless stay. Check-in info, WiFi details, arrival instructions, directions, local recommendations, everything is included.
What would be your guests perception of you as a host? A professional, someone who is clearly on top of their hosting game. Most Airbnb hosts simply send an email or a pdf, if anything at all. You immediately stand out.
Why is this important? Because it will make your guests feel comfortable knowing they are staying with a host who takes Airbnb hosting serious. They will automatically assume good things about you. That you will be on top of other aspects of the hosting game, such as ensuring a smooth check-in and solving issues if they arrive.
There are a number of other online guidebook companies, such as Touchstay and Coral. I've tried both of them and they work fine. Hostfully has my preference though, for a number of reasons. They are the market leader in the space, and constantly innovate their product. For example, voice access via Alexa and Google assistant has recently been implemented. Hostfully is also recognised by a lot of guests, which builds immediate trust. The tool is also easy to use and has excellent support. Last but not least, your first Hostfully guidebook is 100% free! That means even if you are a casual host renting out a small guest room, you can be a professional.
Hostfully Review: How does it work?
Setting up your first Hostfully guidebook is easy. Simply sign-up for a free account and you should have your guidebook online within an hour or so. The backend is very user friendly, although a little confusing at times. Keep reading because below I´ll take you through the entire process so you don't waste time trying to figure out everything on your own.
Cards, Guidebooks and Templates
Before you start building your first guidebook, it is useful to understand the three basic elements that Hostfully consists of:
2. Guidebooks (also called decks)
Guidebooks (or decks) consist of smaller building blocks called cards. Templates are essentially groups of cards.
The reason that cards and templates exist is to make it easier for you to create multiple guidebooks for different listings. This is very useful because a lot of the information that you share might not be specific to one Airbnb listing. If you rent out multiple rooms or apartments in one building for example, then arrival and check-in instructions are probably the same. If you have multiple Airbnb listings in the same neighbourhood, you will want to include the same local recommendations.
Hostfully Review: Cards
Cards are the building blocks of your guidebook. They are bit-sized pieces of information used to communicate something specific about your Airbnb, such as WiFi details or check-in information. These cards are pre-formatted so that you can easily check some boxes and fill out the details to create your cards. The following cards are available:
Intros * Directions * Parking * Check-ins * Wifi * Check-outs * House Manual
Once you've filled out a card, you can then choose which guidebooks you want to assign these cards to.
The default language is English, if you upgrade to a PRO plan you will also be able to create your guidebook in Spanish, French, Japanese, German, Italian, Polish and Portuguese. Imagine the impression you make on your guests if you send them an online guidebook in their own language!
Special offer: Use coupon code PAD to receive two month of the PRO plan for free.
Providing local recommendations is an essential part of your guidebook. This is where you can really add value and use your local knowledge to enhance the guest´s experience. Hostfully recommendation cards are really easy to setup. A feature I really like is that you can simply search for the establishment you want to add, select it and the address will be automatically added. On top of that, you can also select from a number of pictures. This means you don´t need to go out there and take your own, although you can if you want.
You can sort your recommendations by category. Some are pre-defined, such as bars, restaurants and things to do. However, you can also create your own categories if you want to be creative.
Hostfully Review: Themes
Themes allow you to customise certain aspects of your guidebooks, such as the number of sponsored recommendations to show adn the default tab colors. In addition, you can also add your own logo and website. But perhaps the most interesting feature is that you can ask your guests to agree to your terms and provide their email before getting access. This is great for those who want to collect their guest´s email addreses for marketing purposes.
Hostfully Review: Templates
Templates are designed to enable the user to share common information across multiple guidebooks. This is useful for those who have a lot of listings. It saves you time because you don´t have to select the dozens of cards for each guidebook. Simply put all the common information cards in a template and use it as a basis for the guidebooks that share the information.
Hosts who have multiple listings in the same building, neighbourhood or city will be very happy with this functionality.
Hostfully offers a free plan for one guidebook. For $7.99 a month, you get multiple language support and you can personalise your guidebook with your own logo. The language support is a valuable addition for hosts who receive a lot of foreign guests, they will certainly feel welcome after receiving a guidebook in their own language. The personalised logo is useful for hosts who have their own website and branding.
For hosts with multiple listings, Hostfully has a Prime plan at $19.99 a month. It covers up to five guidebooks. Other advantages are a custom URL, no sponsored recommendations, premium customer support and an admin dashboard.
Prices mentioned are for plans billed annually, monthly billing plans are available at $9.99 and $24.99.
One beautiful digital guidebook
Advanced features for super hosts
For hosts with multiple listings
Hostfully Review: Conclusion
Hostfully is my preferred online guidebook for Airbnb hosts. The main reasons are that it´s free to use, it is well designed and offers industry leading functionality. The only drawback is that it can be a little confusing to create your first guidebook. It takes some time to get used to the cards and templates structure. However, once you get used to it, you can then easily compile multiple guidebooks very quickly.