Guests have more questions now than ever.
If you've traveled recently, you've probably had a few questions yourself. You're wondering if the Google hours at the restaurants are accurate, are the gyms open, what's the lockdown situation?
I talked to David Jacoby, President and Co-Founder of Hostfully, to learn a little more about what their 2020 Hospitality Report found. One thing is for sure, communication has changed.
The use of digital Airbnb guidebooks has more than doubled in 2020, from 24% to 55%. So, today I'll be covering how to communicate digitally with guests in a COVID world!
What's the biggest change in the past year?
Guests are shifting this year. Instead of flying around the country, most are choosing to stay close to home. Many are visiting locations they have visited before.
Since guests will be spending a lot of time actually in the house, the focus has changed. Now, guests are looking at things like:
Short travel distances
Proximity to parks/nature
Along with the focus on a variety of amenities suitable for a longer stay, many guests are looking for hosts to show a more professional side. When a guest sees a well put together guidebook, it's easier to build trust.
Responding quickly to any questions that still do arise, can help you appear professional as well.
A great way to respond quickly is to answer the questions before you get them! Setting up a detailed guidebook will help you spend less time worrying about guest questions. You may still get a few, and just make sure to respond as quickly as you can to those.
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What should go in your Airbnb guidebook?
It's pretty hard to find accurate information about store hours and COVID restrictions online right now. Google might say a restaurant is open, but they just haven't updated their hours. It's not a surprise that one of the biggest questions hosts are getting right now is “What's open?”.
Sharing local recommendations, with updated suggestions, will make things easier on you and your guests. There are a few other common questions you can cover easily with your Airbnb guidebook:
TV instructions and logins
Operating the laundry machines
How to use the hot tub
Current cleaning procedures
Outdoor activities (for social distance)
Do I need a COVID test?
Even if you have a guidebook, guests might still be curious if it's up to date and ask questions. Make it clear when the guidebook was updated, and make sure to have a lot of up-to-date local recommendations!
How do you create an Airbnb guidebook?
Hostfully makes it easy to create amazing digital guidebooks for Airbnb. With Hostfully guidebooks, you can make everything fit your brand. It's easy to add a logo, direct booking, and custom colors. They've been adding a ton of new features lately, and my favorite is video. Videos add a personal touch, and they build trust and connection.
I think it's a great idea to add a welcome message that the guest will see right away. There's also the option to do text, but taking the extra time to put a video out will set you apart.
You can use videos if you've got complicated instructions for your TV or other devices. Even if they aren't complicated instructions, the more videos you have, the better!
If greeting your guests was something you enjoyed about hosting, your Airbnb guidebook with Hostfully can serve as a replacement. Give a recorded tour of your home on your guidebook for guests to view.
Consider including videos of nearby parks and attractions! You can check out my Hostfully review here if you want more tips on creating your Airbnb guidebook.
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Keep communication personal while scaling
Once you have your Airbnb guidebook set up, you should use an automated system to send it out. You should have automation in place, even with one unit.
A system David from Hostfully likes to use is a 4-5 email sequence.
First, he sends an automated email containing reservation confirmation with the link to his guidebook.
Next, he sends out a welcome email 5-10 days before the guest is set to arrive containing all the details, guidebook, and a quick question about something like check-in times. He'll send a personal message back if he gets a response to the question.
Then, the day the guest is arriving, copy and paste the welcome email and put a little note on top, and just say “I wanted to bump this up to the top of your inbox, have a great trip.”
Here's a quick recap of the email sequence:
It may seem like a lot, but it’s actually not that involved. Only the quick response to your welcome email will involve a personal reply. Automating this will save a lot of time!
Upselling with Airbnb Guidebooks
Aside from saving you from answering a bunch of questions, Airbnb guidebooks can also directly increase your revenue!
You can use guidebooks to upsell the services you offer (or think up!).
You can get 100% of the income on the upsell. It seems like a big trend that will emerge in 2021.
There’s also the idea of being a concierge, setting up things like tours for instance. In this case, you could hire a local tour guide, and take a percentage. Your Airbnb guidebook can contain all of the information about your additional services, and make it easy for guests to opt-in.
An Airbnb Guidebook will help you stand out
There are two reasons I’m excited about 2021.
One is a shift towards vacation rentals, and two is that Covid has taught us to work remotely.
This means there will be more and more people looking for midterm stays. There was already a 25% increase in direct bookings in 2020, and I think more good things are to come. If you can focus on building your brand, with things like guidebooks and direct booking websites, you'll be ready to take advantage of the vacation rental industry.
As for guidebooks, I’ve been using Hostfully guidebooks since they started. I've gotten a lot fewer questions and great feedback about my communication. If you're ready to set up your Airbnb guidebook, use code ‘PAD' and you’ll get two months for free!
Hostfully isn’t just a guidebook service, they’ve also got a PMS. It’s super easy to set up a direct booking site with Hostfully (and you’ll get a discount with code ‘PAD' for that too!)
Use code ‘PAD' for 2 months free
There are still not too many people focusing on Airbnb guidebooks or upselling experiences.
You will really stand out to guests when you do. Send me over a copy of your guest book, I'd love to take a look!