If you operate a short term rental, using Airbnb or a similar service, then it’s important to realise that greeting your guests and the house tour can be one of the most important aspects of your business.
They say that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression and that’s certainly true when you’re hosting paying guests, and it all starts when the guest’s car pulls into your driveway or you hear the doorbell ring.
Of course, it’s essential that they are greeted with a smile, a firm handshake and that they are told that it’s good to meet them, that you welcome them warmly to your place and that you hope they’ll enjoy their stay.
But the next step – the house tour – is an incredibly important part of the ritual and the basics of the house tour has two main purposes – to make sure that the guests have everything they need and that they will have all the information and equipment they need to keep your rental in great shape.
For example, you can’t expect them to do the dishes if there’s no dishsoap or take out the trash if you haven’t supplied trash can liners.
What is difficult sometimes though is getting the balance right – the balance between taking ages with the house tour (and being a little too invasive) and conveying the information you need to without boring them. After all, it’s likely that they are tired from their journey. If you’re a new host, don’t worry as you’ll soon find that you are able to ‘read’ your guests and see if they want to be left alone.
But the most important aspect of the house tour is really to sell your place to guests.
True, they have chosen your place over probably hundreds of other listings but you want to make sure that they have a great stay a) so that they’ll leave you a great public review b) so that they’ll recommend your rental to their friends and c) they might become regular guests who visit you every year.
So when you’re doing the house tour, it’s important to think of yourself as a salesperson – or even as an actor if your prefer, after all, you’ll be the focus of their attention so it is a little like being on stage.
When you embark upon your house tour, remember that your guests don’t know you at all and so – just like any good salesperson – it’s your job to put them at ease. As mentioned before, they might be tired and grumpy from their journey so don’t expect every new guest to be bright and bubbly; that’s the host’s job.
Point out the positive aspects of your accommodation first – the things you really love about the place. My opener is usually ‘isn’t this view just fabulous?’ It’s the ‘first impressions’ thing again.
Most of us have one or two things in our rentals that aren’t perfect. Think about the positive aspects of those items in your own accommodation. ‘This is by far the comfiest chair in the apartment. It’s getting a little old now, but I don’t want to replace it because it’s such a great place to sit and read’.
I find that it’s much easier to have the manuals for your appliances and electronics in the apartment rather than have to explain how every single thing works. Then I can just point out the folder or drawer that houses them. Guests really don’t want to know how every last thing in your rental works.
However, if you have quirky items in your home that guests need to know (such as a temperamental shower control) then show your guests how to operate these but in a positive way implying that these little peculiarities are part of the fun of a homestay.
Be sure to include these small touches as part of your ‘salesmanship’:
- Use their name when you talk to them. That’s one of the most important words you can use!
- Make your words help to visualise themselves enjoying your space. ‘imagine sitting in our lovely garden reading or relaxing’. ‘You’re welcome to use our fully equipped kitchen to prepare light snacks’ or ‘you’ll really enjoy the local farmers market’
- Listen to your guests. Don’t reel off a long speech about your rental – take time to listen. If they say that they are looking forward to seeing the local museum then tell them a few insider’s tips about it., for example. Remember that the house tour should be a conversation and not a lecture
- If you are explaining house rules be sure to phrase them correctly – such as ‘this is such a peaceful place and I’m sure that you understand that there should be no noise after ten in the evening’ or ‘isn’t it nice to have laundry facilities when you’re travelling? Feel free to use our washer and dryer – up to two loads a week is fine’
- Even if you get the impression that your guests are losing a little patience with the house tour do point out any extras or special items you provide, such as beach towels, extra coffee supplies or the local tourist information you have left for them. Accentuate the positive
- It’s an old sales adage but ‘people buy from people they like’. Be friendly and ask them questions about themselves, nothing too intrusive just simple questions such as ‘what was the weather like in Canada when you left?’ or ‘is this just a short trip or are you moving on to another place after you’ve stayed with us?’ These questions put your guests at ease and make you seem friendly
- Ask your guests if there’s anything they need and be sure that they know how to contact you if they do
- Point out safety features during the house tour in a pleasant fashion ‘of course, we hope you won’t need it but there’s a first aid kits in the cupboard under the sink’. This shows that you care about your guests’ safety
- If appropriate – in other words if your guests aren’t too fatigued after their journey – then it’s a good idea to ask them about their travel plans so that you both firmly establish checkout times
Finally, remember that at its best, selling is merely the transference of enthusiasm. Be enthusiastic about your rental and the guests will soon pick up on it.