1) PROVIDE CLEAR DIRECTIONS TO THE PROPERTY AT THEIR FINGERTIPS.
First, provide guests with easy-to-follow directions via both text and email. Don’t bury directions in an app or in a pdf. Use a separate text and email just for directions and keycodes, and don’t be wordy. Test directions with Gen X,Y,Z, and Boomer team members to make sure they are understandable. If the property is in a rural area, do not rely on Google. That said, if Google isn’t showing easy directions, contact Google. They will quickly change it for you as Google Maps hates being wrong.
2) START THE STAY BEFORE GUESTS WALK IN THE DOOR.
Using a sports metaphor, you are “on the clock” the minute they pull up in the driveway. Keyless entry and lockboxes can be confusing. Text and email very specific instructions, and don’t bury these instructions in an app or in a contract pdf. Entry instructions should be the easiest thing they get from your company. And, please, leave exterior lights on.
3) AND THEY’RE IN! OPEN UP THE BEST VIEWS AND LEAVE LIGHTS ON.
When weary travelers open the door, first impressions are everything. If they feel uneasy or creeped out, everything will be scrutinized. However, if the guest walks into a vacation home that feels and smells clean, warm, and inviting, they will let down their guard and become excited to finally be on vacation.
The augmented cleaning protocols should take care of the smell. If you normally keep drapes/blinds/shutters closed, consider opening the window treatments exposing the best views when guests are arriving. Additionally, with guests getting to the home later as check-in times get pushed back, don’t let them come into a dark home. It is difficult to make a dark cabin in the middle of the woods feel clean and welcoming, no matter how hard you try. Leaving some strategic lights on will make the home feel warm and welcoming. And for those of you in cabin destinations, consider changing out dark lamp shades. In addition, leaving the living room TV on, set to a music channel is extra. Not only does it eliminate the eerie silence, it helps them operate the TV.
We often have pushed for inspectors to be titled “stagers,” as staging the home for arrival is critical. When pillows, cushions, accessories, and rugs are aligned in the right place, the whole home feels organized. Then, they see your clutter-free, shiny kitchen countertops with your welcome note and amenity package. As they move through the home and inevitably rush to the bathroom, they see the cleaning seals on the toilets, perfectly placed clean towels, and hand sanitizer. As they take their luggage to their bedrooms, they sigh in relief at the fresh, white, professionally laundered bedding in bedrooms and clean bedside lamps that give off the right amount of light.
5) THE CHEERIO STANDARD
In the past, a stray Cheerio or Goldfish cracker left under a chair or bed or in a cushion was a little annoying. Post- COVID, that same Cheerio represents to the guest that the home still has surfaces on which a child’s slobbery residue remains. In short, a guest does not want to see evidence that another human being has been in the home. When checking for Cheerios, check for flies, love bugs, lady bugs, etc. The only thing that will kill a vacation vibe more that a Cheerio is a bug. So don’t leave a bug or a Cheerio.
Managing first impressions will put your guests at ease and allow them to begin their vacation at once. And your relationship with them begins.