How to create the perfect and informative welcome guide for your short term let

Welcome Book

If you are using a short let property management company they can help you to create a welcome guide, however for those of you who don’t, please find below some tips on how to create a welcome guide for your short term let.

To you, your short term let is like an extension of your own home, you know where everything is, and what there is to do in the local area to entertain yourself. For your guests however it is very different, it may be the very first time they have ever visited the area, and things will feel very new to them. It is important for you and your business that you ensure your guests enjoy their stay and sing the praises of your short term let, even better continue to return in the future.

When creating your welcome guide, you need to think as you did when you first took on your short term let, and think like someone that has never been there before.

A good welcome guide will include information on yourself, the owner, your property, and the local area. Recommendations of local amenities, places to spend the day or evening, and places to eat are always a good start. It is also essential that you supply your guests with emergency contact information both for yourselves, and local medical clinics etc. and not forgetting information on how to use electrical appliances in the property, as I am sure we can all remember a time we have been stumped by a technical appliance. The list can be never ending . . .

When trying to put your welcome guide together it helps to think . . .

“What information do I need to know to make the most of my stay here?”

A welcome greeting:

Welcome your guests, and give a brief history about yourselves, the property, and the local area. Guests like to feel a connection with the owner of the property and in my experience results in the property being looked after. Don’t go in heavy with many ground rules, your guests are here to enjoy themselves and don’t want to feel restricted as soon as they arrive.

Emergencies:

Hopefully this will rarely need to be used, but it is important to have it there. Always make sure that this is at the front of the book and easy for people to find, and includes an emergency contact for yourself (or your short let property management company if you live away) in the case that anything happens to the property. Along with this include information about what the guests should do if there is a problem with the property for example a heating failure or problems with power supply.  You may also want to include instructions for where the fuse box, mains water stopcock and gas terminal are in the property so the guests can find these quickly if required. Run through what guests should do in the event of a fire for example where are the extinguishers located in the property, how the smoke alarms work and the location of fire exits.

Include a telephone list of local doctors (public and private), dentists and hospitals with maps or instructions on how to get to them. Let’s not forget our furry friends, if you allow pets make sure you include a phone number for a local vet.

Appliance information and instructions:

You will all be familiar with the appliances you have selected for your property, but your guests will not be, and it is important for them to be able to access all the appliances and services that are available to them. The first thing on most people’s mind will be Internet connection so ensure that you have the name of your network and password somewhere easy for your guests to find.

Look around your property and think about what appliances your guests are likely to use and leave copies of the user manuals or easy to use step-by-step guides somewhere the guests can access e.g. a kitchen drawer. There’s nothing worse than a guests playing around with an appliance because they have no instructions and breaking or reprograming the whole thing.

In your property if you have different appliances that are run by a remote control then you may want to label these, so that they can be distinguished and used for the correct appliance. Instructions on how to use these will also be helpful, and save hours of time trying to change the channel on the TV.

If your guests are lucky enough to have things such as log burners or hot tubs available to them then instruction for these will also limit the risk of complications later on, and allow your guests to enjoy all of the property’s features.

Dos and don’ts: (don’t call them rules!)

Be careful when writing this section as you don’t want to come across too strict but it is important for you to lay some ground rules, because at the end of the day this is your property.

If your property is in a built up area or you have close neighbours it may be worth having them in mind when completing this section. You may want to remind guests of noise levels when coming and going from the property, after all who wants upset neighbours?

For properties that allow pets make it clear if they are allowed in all rooms and on the sofas etc. If this isn’t clear at the start, it may give you a lot of clearing up at the end.

Including your terms and conditions in the welcome guide is also worthwhile, with this explain that guests are to report any problems as soon as possible so that you get the chance to rectify any issues.

Local transport:

Some of your guests may want to enjoy your local area without the stress of driving so it is important to provide them with information on the local transport operating in your area.

Let you guests know where they can find the local bus stops, train or tube stations and include up to date timetables to make this as straight forward as possible for them. Also include phone numbers for local taxi firms and the road name so that your guests will be able to point a driver in the right direction.

A nice touch if you have a short term let in London could be to include an oyster card with the guide.

Attractions and amenities:

This section will be really important to your guests, as they will look to you for advice on how to enjoy their time at your short term let. These could be either personal recommendations or from your local tourist information board. I would always recommend your own personal thoughts as this helps create a relationship between yourselves and your guests.

When selecting places to recommend you will want to think of a wide variety, covering all ages and interests. Include recommendations for local heritage sites and monuments for the guests that may enjoy some local history for example if you have a short term let in London include places such as Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, or Tower Bridge. Maybe a recommendation for family day outs with children like London Zoo, or Warner Brothers Studio- Harry Potter. Otherwise, just taking in the views of London from the London Eye, a river cruise on the Thames, or dinner in The Shard.

For more day-to-day information, it would be helpful to your guests if you provided them with a list of local amenities such as supermarkets, shops, post offices, banks, ATMs and petrol stations. You could do this easily by displaying them on one simple map with a key.

Check-out instructions:

Include a list of what guests have to do on their final day before vacating the property. This may include instructions such as where to leave the keys, to ensure all doors and windows are locked, and what to do with rubbish or dirty linen.

Conclusions:

Remember your guests are on holiday, so they do not want to spend hours reading through hundreds of pages of rules, and how to guidelines. Keep it concise and to the point with the most important information in an eye-catching place. It would also be good to prioritise the information going from most important to least as you work your way through the book.

When producing your welcome guide, always think of it from a guest’s point of view. What would you want to know if you were going to a short term let? If you use this as a basis you will be on track to do a great job!

 

Get your Short-term Let Christmas Ready

Christmas Accomodation

Yes it is that time of year again; love it or hate it Christmas is fast approaching, read on for some tips on how you can transform your short-term let for the festive season.

Christmas decorations

Christmas is not complete without decorations. There is no need to go overboard as even a few accessories can help to give your property that touch of magic.

Any decorations should be chosen carefully and complement your existing style and target market. For example, if you are trying to appeal to families your decorations may be more playful than if you guests are predominately older couples. Decorations can include fairy lights, tinsel, stockings, ornaments and of course the all important Christmas tree.

Flowers/plants

It is nice to have flowers and/or plants in your short-term let throughout the year and you can change the type depending on the season. For example, Poinsettias are popular around Christmas and are well known for their distinctive red leaves. Holly and mistletoe are also iconic florae for the festive period. You could also consider a wreathe for the front door or as a table centre piece.

Christmas gifts

Don’t break the bank but if you would like to leave your guests a welcome gift think about something relevant to the time of year. For example, mulled wine, mince pies, a hamper, crackers or a Christmas novelty gift. Another novel idea is to have an advent calendar which each of your guests can open on the days that they stay.

If you are not keen on leaving gifts an alternative could be to leave a Christmas card.

Christmas entertainment

For those times when your guests opt to stay in make them feel at home with Christmas films, music and games.

Christmas events

Let your guests know what is going on in the local area by providing them with printed information on Christmas events such as markets, theatre productions, nativity plays, fireworks, church services, parties and Father Christmas experiences. Let them know prices, locations/directions and how to book (if required).

Remember different events will appeal to different people; if your guests are bringing children their interests will differ to those on holiday as a couple or with friends.

It is also helpful to provide your guests with additional information, such as supermarket opening hours.

Extra special touches

Give your property a cosy and Christmassy feel with festive blankets or throws, candles and diffusers/air fresheners. However, for safety you may want to consider LED candles. Also think about changing the duvet to a warmer tog.

If your property has a log burner this is the perfect time of year to showcase it. Make sure that you stock up on logs/fuel and that your guests have everything they need to safely light a fire. Also ensure that your guests will have adequate heating and that when they arrive the property is warm. It is also a good idea to make sure your boiler has been serviced.

You may want to change the normal toiletries that you provide to your guests to something more seasonal. For example, you could invest in Christmas scented shower gels and soaps.

Make your short-let a safe place to stay

Safety

When providing your property as a short-term let the safety of your guests should be at the top of your priority list.

There are lots of regulations that you must, by law, comply with and it is therefore important that you spend time ensuring that you fulfill your responsibilities as a landlord. As well as reassuring and safeguarding your guests this will reduce the risk of incidents and claims against you.

Here are some initial questions to consider:

  • Are your gas and electrical certificates up-to-date?
  • Do you comply with the latest fire and health and safety regulations?
  • Do you have an adequate first aid kit?
  • Do you have appropriate insurance in place?

Fire Safety

You will need to ensure that you comply with the latest fire regulations, but here are some important points to consider:

  • Carry out a fire risk assessment.
  • Fit smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and ensure that they are tested regularly.
  • If your property has the option for your guests to have an open fire provide fireguards.
  • Ensure that any chimneys and/or flues are checked and cleaned regularly.
  • Provide fire extinguishers and blankets.
  • Avoid candles.
  • Ensure that there is an adequate means of escape in the event of a fire (and that guests have all of the necessary keys to open windows and doors). Also ensure that fire exits are clearly marked.

You should also consider providing your guests with a set of safety instructions that covers things like how to light and extinguish an open fire.

Child Safety

Parents will want to be reassured that their children are staying in a safe environment. There are a number of simple things that you can implement to help put their minds at rest:

  • Avoid window blinds with hanging, looped cords.
  • Fit stair gates and bed guards.
  • Install covers over electrical sockets.
  • Fit childproof locks on cupboards.
  • Fence off any areas of water, such as ponds.
  • Avoid providing equipment that has a high risk of resulting in injury, such as trampolines and swings.

Security

There are many things that you can do to make your guests feel safe and secure whilst staying in your property, such as:

  • Installing a burglar alarm.
  • Installing security lights.
  • Ensuring that the exterior doors are sturdy and have comprehensive locking systems.
  • Providing a lockable safe.
  • Installing gates and fencing, where possible, around the property.
  • Installing an intercom system.

Slips, Trips and Falls

Again there are health and safety regulations that you must comply with, but here are some important areas for you to evaluate:

  • Carry out a health and safety risk assessment.
  • Regularly inspect floors and eliminate any trip hazards. This includes things like floor defects and wires.
  • Regularly inspect and clean outside areas, such as driveways and patios, for defects.
  • Provide a non-slip bath mat.
  • Install handrails on stairs.
  • Make sure that any dark areas have adequate lighting.
  • If you have a balcony install appropriate railings.
  • Is furniture, such as chairs and beds, structurally sound? Also avoid furniture with sharp edges.
  • If you have a swimming pool or hot tub make sure that you have extra safety measures in place and that you comply with any additional guidelines and regulations.

It is also advisable that you provide your guests with a 24/7 emergency phone number. This will assure guests that you take their safety seriously and can also help to minimise any incidents from occurring.

Also provide guests with a handbook, this should include things like how to turn the gas and water off should they ever need to.

It is of the upmost importance when letting out your property as a short-term let that you comply with and keep up-to-date with legislation to ensure that your guests enjoy their holiday in the safest possible environment. If an incident does occur you will also need to prove that you have put the necessary measures in place.

The importance of using professional photos in your Airbnb and short-let listings

Bedroom

Whether we are conscious of it or not photographs play a significant part in many of our day-to-day buying decisions.

This is even more apparent in the online world, take the following as an example:

You visit eBay to buy a mobile phone and three sellers with the same rating are advertising an identical product for the same price. Out of the following who are you more likely to purchase from?

The one who has used:

  • Professional photos supplied by the manufacturer.
  • Photos that they have taken themselves; they have used their duvet cover as a backdrop and the photos are a bit dark and blurry.
  • No photos at all.

Professional photos are likely to get the best results. The same principle applies when people are looking for holidays and comparing short-term let properties on websites such as Airbnb. The following outlines why professional photographs are so important to use within your Airbnb listings.

Competition

Potential guests will usually decide whether or not your property is in the running within seconds. When scanning through search results on Airbnb they will quickly compare properties, short-listing their favourites. Many are likely to right off a property based on the photographs alone, before they have even looked at the price and other details.

It is therefore important that you stand out from the competition (after all there is a lot) and show off your property to its full potential. A good photographer will have invested in top of the range equipment, such as cameras and lenses, this combined with their experience should create a result which is non-comparable to DIY photos.

Target Audience

Photos can help you to attract the type of guests that you would like to stay in your property. For example, if your property is ideal for families your photos should highlight key selling points such as outside spaces, cooking facilities, games as well as any child-friendly features.

If your property is more expensive than average this does not mean that you will not receive as many bookings, you just have to ensure that the photos reflect quality and pull in your target audience. This is down to what is in the photos as well as the quality of the photos themselves. If you have any interesting items such as pieces of art, unusual furniture or impressive technology that make your property stand out, a few close-ups will help to highlight these features. A professional photographer will have experience on what sells in regards to composition as well as the best angles and lighting. They will also be able to edit the photos afterwards to enhance them further.

If you want to come across as a professional landlord with experience in short-stay rentals your photographs need to ooze professionalism. Remember that your guests want to know that they will be safe and looked after.

In summary professional photographs can help you to stand out from your competition, attract your target audience and portray trust and professionalism.

When using a skilled photographer it is a good idea to ask them to provide you with a bank of images that you can use throughout the year.

For example when winter is approaching use images of your property with Christmas decorations and if applicable an open fire. The choice of flowers can also portray season, such as Daffodils in the springtime. It is important that you help potential guests to imagine themselves living in your space, this is something your photographer will be able to help with.

Also remember to keep your photos up to date; if you have a major revamp then it is important that you get your photos re-done.

Of course there is cost to consider when using a professional photographer but it is a valuable investment that should help to increase the profits of your short-term let. Consider how many additional nights rent would you need to make the investment worthwhile. Probably not that many…

How to Encourage Repeat Guests

Decorating

If you have a short let property it’s great when you receive a booking but what’s even better is when those guests return time and time again, as well as refer you onto their friends, family and co-workers.

The big question is how do you go about getting repeat business? It may seem obvious (and some things are!) but there are lots of areas that property owners often overlook. We have put together some tips to get you well on the way to ensuring that you are at the top of your guests’ list of places to stay.

Target Audience

The first thing you need to think about is whom you are trying to market your short let property to. For example, if you are charges are above average then that’s fine but you need to invest time and money into ensuring that you are providing your guests with a luxury experience. If you are looking to appeal to families then think about child safety and smaller details such as providing games.

Your target audience should also dictate the way in which you lay out your rooms, for example families would require a mix of single and double beds whereas a hen party may prefer all singles. If you are trying to appeal to a mix of people then buy versatile furniture, such as beds that can be easily moved around and pushed together.

Cleaning

Ensuring that your property is clean may sound obvious but this doesn’t just mean a quick scout around with the hoover in between guests. Instead you should be implementing a strict cleaning schedule that includes dusting, hovering, floor washing, bathroom cleaning as well as providing fresh linen and towels. Nothing should be left untouched, even those areas that you think that nobody will ever look (like behind the radiators!). Remember it can only take one person and one bad review to tarnish your good name.

Attention to Detail

If you really want to stand out from other short let properties then you really need to go that extra mile.

Before you let out your property make sure that you have lived in it yourself so that you can experience life as a guest and ensure that it is fully equipped for cooking, sleeping, sanitation and leisure. Ask yourself what would have made your experience better?

Some small touches that you may want to consider to give you an edge are books, magazines/newspapers, milk, bread, butters, conserves, scourers and washing-up liquid. It is also nice to include an information book on the property itself (such as how to work certain appliances) as well as details on what to do in the local area.

Essentials and Gifts

Leave a lasting impression on your guests and invest in some luxury shampoos, conditioners, body washes, body lotions and toilet roll. If you really want to stand out you could also consider leaving a gift for when your guests arrive at your property, such as champagne or a hamper.

Decoration

It is important that you keep your property looking fresh to avoid disappointment, as guests will expect to be presented with the same property that was advertised to them in the photos not a tired version of it. If considering a revamp think back to your target audience and the kind of décor that would satisfy them.

Meet and Greet

Ensure that your guests receive a truly personal experience by meeting them on arrival at your property. This way you can give them a guide around and explain things (like how to use the oven and shower) as well as answer any questions that they may have.

24/7 Support

Make sure that it is easy for your guests to contact you, especially in case of an emergency. Also ensure that you are prepared to quickly be able to deal with any faults with the property, such as if the oven or hot water stops working.

Follow-ups

Once guests vacate your property make sure that you contact them to follow-up on their stay and get that all-important feedback.

We hope the above suggestions help to get you to think about your own short let property and how you can increase repeat business. If time is not on your side and you require further expertise you could consider hiring a property management company who will take care of everything for you.

Should I rent out my home on a short term let basis?

Short Term Let My Home

If you have a property, a flat, house or any shared space in London you will already know how valuable space is in the capital. The demand for letting on a short term basis has significantly increased from both people visiting London for tourism/leisure and also for work or to visits friends. This is projected to continue growing as London remains a major attraction and place to visit.

The recent post Brexit drop in the pound has made visiting London an even more attractive for travellers from abroad. All of this means that strong demand has meant that many property owners are successfully letting out their places on a temporary basis with good returns.

Its great for guests as well since they typically pay less than for a hotel while staying in a much nicer place with much more space & amenities giving better value. So its understandable why its growing in popularity as an alternative accommodation to more traditional options such as hotels.

The challenge for hosts is how to go about making the property available for short term letting. The basic steps are getting the property listed on a suitable website, getting it ready for guests and managing it.

1. Where do I list my property for short term letting? Airbnb is the leading site in the market, has invested considerable resources to make it simple to use for both hosts and guests. There are many other websites also available, such as TripAdviser and HomeAway.
2. Getting the place ready will mean creating a listing and preparing the space to receive guests. Most of this is common sense such as creating suitable spaces for guests and ensuring that there are adequate amenities to support their stay.
3. Managing it is probably the most challenging part since it involves meeting and greeting guests, on-going guest communication, calendar management and cleaning/linen management, all the aspects involved in provide the actual physical service.

Whether you do all or part of above very much depends on your personal circumstances. Doing it yourself is very time consuming and requires being available at all times to communicate with guests and ensure the place is well managed.

Thankfully there are now many service providers who can help with taking away the burden of actually managing the place leaving you to get on with your other activities or enjoy your time away. This is where we come in at Hello Guest to provide a full service you can rely on for Airbnb management London as well as all the requirements for your property managed on a short let basis.

If you are interested further in these services, please don’t hesitate to contact us on hello@helloguest.co.uk

New Years Resolutions – Airbnb Management London

Airbnb management London & New years resolutions?! What, oh yeah those things, about as traditional as Christmas turkey, so whether you went for a Heston Blumenthal hand fed turkey (just kidding!) or just headed down to Aldi with the growing masses, its likely our finances are a looking a bit less ‘Oh ho ho ho’ and more like ‘Oh no no no’..

So what to do – scratch your head (thats for sure), drink more (mmm not advised), talk to someone (good idea!), so what are your friends talking about?

‘I rented my place on Airbnb!’ And..well the guests didnt have all night rave parties, were actually quite nice and I made some good money.

Airbnb has moved on from its conception when it was more about the idea of people opening their homes to have guests come to stay with them. Most of the properties listed now dont have the hosts staying there and provide for guests obvious benefits vs staying in a hotel, namely nicer places with more character, bigger spaces, more facilities like a kitchen and much better value for money.

Its not just Airbnb, there are other sites and they having been growing going from strength to strength as more people try the experience. The good news is the UK government is supportive of the new sharing economy and last year in March scrapped an outdated subletting law limiting the number of days they could be let for short stays.

Whether you go away for regular periods, longer holidays or its fully available, there is an opportunity for an extra source of income. So your news years resolution could be try out Airbnb if you have some space available.

If like most people you may not have the time or interest to get things set up and managed on sites like Airbnb, there is a shortcut to use a growing number of experienced Airbnb management London companies such as HelloGuest.co.uk to make it happen. as a growing number of people travel and rent their homes using sites like Airbnb, the ecosystem for providing services has developed considerably making it easier to manage.

If you would like more information about help getting set up on Airbnb and Airbnb management London, please contact us at HelloGuest.co.uk

 

Airbnb London Management & Information for Renting

Airbnb management and renting your London property have hugely evolved and expanded very quickly over only the last few years proving to be a great source of additional income and making more space available in London for rent. As well as facing a shortage in short term space to let, London is also a top touristic destination, so the more we can utilize unused space the better.

Under the governments sharing economy drive there are new proposals to further support Londoners letting out their homes, flats or even a spare room on a short-term basis.

The very unique feature of Airbnb management is that it allows the tourists visiting London to live just like a ‘local’ rather than staying in bland over-priced hotels.

Even during the London Olympics in 2012, thousands of properties were rented out through Airbnb property management for a few weeks to providing extra space and also during other popular events such as during the Wimbledon Tennis tournaments.

A typical UK Airbnb host can earn as much as 2,822 pounds a year by renting their property for just 33 days. For guests residential homes provide a much cheaper accommodation and better value than the average hotel, bed and breakfast or guesthouse.

Airbnb provides a way to relatively securely and conveniently rent out a person’s home while they are away or traveling which ofcourse is a welcome way for hosts to help cover their travel or living expenses in London.

Airbnb has established a strong presence and foothold in all the areas of London and the surrounding area. In fact Airbnb is not limited to zones 1 & 2 in London but reaches out beyond Greater London. In 2013 alone, it was estimated that Airbnb generated a massive US$824 million in economic activity in London and the UK and has supported close to 11,600 jobs.

Almost 80% of the Airbnb hosts in London rent out the home that they currently live in and in turn utilize the money to support increasing costs of living and expenditure.

Airbnb also supports and nurtures innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the country by supporting hosts who are self-employed or even freelancers. For people with flexible lifestyles & working schedules in London this is an ideal opportunity to combine this with renting out your home to support your living expenses or even support a lifestyle with greater financial freedom.

Tourists in the UK tend to stay longer while visiting UK as there is so much to explore and normally spend much more time in UK than in most other counties. On an average, a tourist to London stays for about 4 nights and which amounts to $1,496 per visitor.

Staying in expensive hotels for a prolonged period of time may not be practical and affordable for many travellers. This is where Airbnb comes in.

Airbnb London provides an authentic, local and unique experience living in a real English home with the big plus that it works out to be a lot more affordable than staying in classic commercially rented accommodation.

So you can see how Airbnb from a financial perspective is beneficial for both hosts as well as guests. Staying even in an average hotel will cost much more while offering less in terms of space and amenities to use during your stay, such as use of the kitchen to cook at home rather than expensively having to east out all the time.

Most Airbnb properties in London are also located close to the main hotel areas which in turn are close to the tourist spots or conveniently located with good transport links to get around and explore the city.

Airbnb is giving tourists better and cheaper options to enjoy the wonderful city of London as well as providing an economic boost to the residents at the same time.

Please get in touch with us at HelloGuest if you would like to explore renting out and having your place managed on Airbnb or you are just seeking supporting services.