Digital Guidebooks for Vacation Rentals: The Ultimate Guide
Since the onset of the pandemic, people are more cautious than ever about planning and booking vacations. This means that when they book to stay at your vacation rental property, they expect you to answer their queries quickly, efficiently, and as comprehensively as possible. And if you can’t, you risk cancellations, lukewarm guest reviews, and zero repeat bookings.
Answering every single guest query from across all of your properties is a tall order, which is why you need a robust guest communication tool for vacation rental properties and a digital guestbook to help you manage the process.
In this ultimate guide to digital guidebooks, we show you everything you need to know about their benefits, why guests love them, what to include, and how to easily create your own digital guidebook to help you deliver the best guest experiences.
With RueBaRue, you can create beautiful digital guidebooks for your vacation rental guests in a matter of minutes. To see how it works, book a demo now.
What is a digital guidebook?
A digital guidebook is an online version of the traditional, physical guidebooks that vacation rental property managers have left for guests—usually on the coffee table!
A digital guidebook contains everything guests need to enjoy their stay, including:
- Crucial property information, instructions, and directions
- Contactless check-in information
- Information on the local area’s attractions, restaurants, events, etc
- The house rules and house manual
- Details from your vacation rental welcome book
- Check-in and check-out list
Traditional, manual guidebooks are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Guests are increasingly expecting to be able to readily access digital versions of every piece of information they need to know.
After all, how much use is a guidebook left on the coffee table when guests want to access details about the best local eateries while on the go?
What are the benefits of digital guidebooks for vacation rental managers?
What are the perks and benefits of digital guidebooks? Let us count the ways!
1. They help you build relationships with your guests
Digital guidebooks allow you to build relationships with your guests right from the get-go.
Since digital guidebooks enable you to regularly communicate with guests to provide them with the right information at the right time, you can start building trust with guests as soon as they hit the “book now” button, up until after they’ve checked out.
2. They help you get more and better reviews
Guests are delighted when they have everything they need for a smooth vacation at their fingertips, which improves your chances of getting more 5-star reviews.
Plus, since a common guest complaint is that property information provided isn’t sufficient, is out-of-date, or not timely enough, your chances of getting positive reviews increase when you use digital guidebooks to manage guest expectations.
3. They help increase your repeat direct bookings
Boosting repeat direct bookings is a top priority for vacation rental property managers. Guests are more likely to book with you again if you offer a digital guidebook since it provides them with a memorable experience, reinforces your brand, and they know exactly what they can expect—a great guest experience from start to finish!
4. They directly boost your revenue
Digital guidebooks can also help you maximize vacation rental income ! Of course, with better reviews comes more direct bookings, and with this comes a boost in revenue.
Plus, digital guidebooks provide you with a great (and appropriate) place to upsell and offer extra services to guests, such as the chance to extend their stay .
5. They save you a huge amount of time
Not only do you not need to replace paper guidebooks every time there’s an update to the information inside (think garbage collection days, or when local beaches change their hours), you’ll also save significant time on returning guest calls and emails.
6. They’re not tied to a specific platform
Digital guidebooks aren’t tied to a specific platform—in fact, you’ll just need to send guests a simple link to the guidebook. This means that you also don’t need to create a separate guidebook for every channel you use to list your rental property.
7. They help you support the local economy by featuring local businesses
Recent events have shown how important it is to support local businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry. Showcasing local businesses is a great way to support your local economy and keep the area thriving.
Why do guests love digital guidebooks?
Digital guidebooks don’t just benefit you as a property manager. Since they help guests enjoy a seamless guest experience, they’re also extremely useful tools that guests love, too.
They save guests’ time with local recommendations
Digital guidebooks make it easy for guests to plan their stay with area guides that include information on restaurants, cafes, bars, and local attractions. In RueBaRue, this feature also includes a map so that guests can see exactly where these places are to help them plan better.
They reduce stress by providing easy access to essential information
Aside from the best places to eat and drink, guests also want to know where they can find the essentials, such as pharmacies, grocery stores, and local hospitals without a hassle. Again, guests can see exactly where these places are on the map and can access the information from within the guidebook itself.
They empower guests to plan their stay with ease, from start to finish
With digital guidebooks, guests can say goodbye to searching emails for keywords to find the right information! From your welcome book which includes personalized details on guests’ arrival and departure, the property itself, and safety information, to all the local area information they could need, guests have everything they need in one place.
Should you use the Airbnb Guidebooks feature?
Airbnb guidebooks can be a handy tool for Airbnb hosts. But, when compared to digital guidebooks like RueBaRue, they fall very short of being comprehensive guest communication tools.
Here’s why Airbnb guidebooks aren’t the flexible, well-rounded tool vacation rental property managers need:
- Airbnb guidebooks are all highly similar, and yours is likely to get lost in the crowd of competing properties (there are over 7 million Airbnb property listings! ).
- Since the guidebooks are tied to Airbnb specifically, it’s not possible to “lift and shift” them to other platforms. This means you’ll need to recreate new guidebooks for any other listing sites you use.
- They don’t contain all of the information guests need throughout their stay, such as where to pick up the keys to the property and where to access the Wi-Fi passwords.
How do I create a digital guidebook?
With RueBaRue, creating a digital guidebook for your rental properties couldn’t be easier—just follow the steps below!
- Log in to your RueBaRue account
- Hover over Guides at the top of the page
- In the drop-down menu, click on Master Property Guide
- Tap on the About Our Home section
- Here, you’ll see the basic built-in templates (Arrivals, Departures, About Our Home, Rental Rules, Re-Book. You can also customize your guidebook here, with options to edit, delete, or add custom categories. You can also include photos, videos, and PDF files
Preview of RueBaRue’s digital guidebook setup
- Check to see which popular vacation rental software RueBaRue integrates with to import property details like WiFi codes, photos, door codes, directions, and parking information.
- Add your logo and brand colors to showcase your brand.
- Click on the green “Share” button to generate a unique link for your digital guidebook (this link can be expired after a guest departs the information can no longer be shared). From here, you can also enter guest phone numbers to send the guidebook to them automatically.
Preview of a generated guidebook link to send to guests
- Hover over Automate at the top of the page, and in the drop-down menu, click on Scheduler.
- Here, you can schedule when to send automated texts or emails to guests with the guestbook attached by clicking on the red “Edit” button.
Preview of RueBaRue’s email and text scheduler
- Here, you adjust exactly when you want to send the email or text message (e.g. 7 Days Before Check-In at 11:00 AM), and add your own personalized message to each guest, including their name and details of their stay.
Preview of RueBaRue’s text and email scheduler template
What to include in your digital guidebook
When it comes to what you should include in your digital guidebook, it’s useful to think about every stage of your guests’ experience with you and your property. Start with the post-booking stage and work your way down to the check-out stage.
- Check-in procedures (door codes, key pick-up information, etc)
- Contactless check-in information
- What time the property will be available from
- Full address and directions to the property (include by car, from the airport, bus, or train station, etc.)
- Where guests can park
- Public transport options
- Wi-Fi password
- Emergency contact numbers (including information on how they can contact you via text message)
- Inventory/starter kits (detail what the property is stocked with, e.g. towels, pantry items, toiletries, etc)
- Thermostat and AC instructions
- House rules (including no-smoking rules, rules on parties, etc)
- Any information on pools, jacuzzis, hot tubs, etc
Local area guides
- Restaurants, bars, and cafes (include your own personal recommendations)
- Information on the nearest pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics
- Activities and events in the local area (hiking trails, best beaches, tourist attractions, concerts, amusement parks, etc)
- Best places to rent cars, bikes, or equipment like surfboards
- Shopping malls, grocery stores, and convenience stores (include some insider knowledge about the best farmers markets or where to pick up the best local produce)
- Check-out procedures (what time they need to leave the property, how to return keys, etc)
- How to extend their stay/late check-out options
- How to leave the property (instructions on the garbage disposal, where to leave used towels, emptying the refrigerator, etc)
- Information on where to take a taxi, bus, or train
Elevate your guests’ experience with digital guidebooks
Digital guidebooks are not just a fad within the vacation rental industry. They form a crucial part of how you deliver a seamless guest experience.
Creating and offering digital guidebooks to guests is a win-win situation. Not only do they benefit your guests in that they have everything they need to know contained in one single link, but it also reduces the amount of time you spend answering the same guest queries over and over again.
This guide has everything you need to know to get you started on your own digital guidebook journey today. Boosting revenue, getting better reviews, and driving repeat bookings has never been easier!
RueBaRue is an easy-to-use tool that allows you to communicate efficiently with guests, save time, and increase your revenue—and it takes minutes toset up. To see how it works, book a demo now.
Frequently Asked Questions about digital guidebooks
Why is a digital guidebook important?
Not only do digital guidebooks enhance the guest experience, but they also help you build strong relationships with guests, help boost your revenue, save you time, get better reviews, and increase your direct bookings!
How much does a digital guidebook cost?
The cost of digital guidebooks varies from vendor to vendor. RueBaRue’s pricing for an end-to-end guest communication tool—which includes digital guidebooks and so much more—starts at just $9.99/month.
Why are digital guidebooks better than the Airbnb Guidebooks feature?
Digital guidebooks aren’t tied to specific platforms, meaning that you can use them across all channels that your properties are listed on. Plus, they include every single piece of information your guests will need throughout their stay!
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