YourWelcome – A Digital Vacation Rental Welcome Book

We have talked at length, both in blog posts and on the podcast, about the importance of welcoming your guests to your property and how that first impression is invaluable to the outcome of a happy guest.

One of our most popular blog posts (The Vacation Rental Welcome Book) covers the in’s and out of preparing the best possible physical ‘book’ or binder to give your guests all the information they could need about the property or the area. The biggest draw back of this method is the possibility of damage and also the inability to do immediate updates without having to disturb the guests or traveling to your property.

In this amazing age of cloud computing some very smart people over at ‘YourWelcome‘ have developed the first tablet designed specifically for providing the perfect welcome book in a digital format with remote updating capability.

Check out the video above from Gary Miller (Vacation Rental Formula Community Manager) and see what you think.

You can also find some great articles here:

– YourWelcome – The Bespoke Tablet that Lets Airbnb & Short Term Let Hosts Offer Guests A More Personalised Service – Airbnb Tablets Help Improve Your Guest Experience

As a reader of CottageBlogger we have also been able to secure you a 10% discount off your subscription to the YourWelcome service.



Please comment below and let us know your thoughts about using a digital welcome book.

VRS125 – What your Vacation Rental guests really want

A few years ago, enquiries were simpler.

They referenced a simpler way of vacationing and underpinned why vacation rentals were becoming so popular.

People asked about the outdoors; the waterfront access; how good the fishing was, and whether there were any board games and videos.

Fast forward to 2016 and the questions are changing. They are becoming more focused on the technical and the quality of entertainment. Guests want help planning their holiday and for many, they want the owners to do the work for them.

In this episode I cover five areas where we are seeing new demands, concerns and requests for hand-holding, and talk through how we might adapt to each one.

I mention:

  • Why owners need to be completely upfront on Wifi limitations and restrictions
  • The need for unlimited access to the internet…if available
  • The extra resources to supply to meet the needs of our digitally adapted guests
  • How the Olympics, the Blue Jays and the Golf Channel might impact bookings
  • Why you should upgrade to a Smart TV
  • Your local knowledge and how to put it to best use
  • How sharing the secrets of the best vegetable stand on the Farmer’s Market can win more bookings
  • Why your personal recommendations are gold
  • The changing needs of parents in terms of child safety
  • The next best thing to a safety rail around a dock
  • Stairgates, outlet covers and lockable cleaning cupboards
  • Why you should never buy a knock-off high chair
  • The dying art of self-reliance
  • Grumpy old people …actually I don’t say that but I think I am one, and you might get the vibe!!

Links discussed:

Vacation Rental Success Summit

Villa Mercier


VRS122 – Handling Vacation Rental Complaints and Staying Sane

Once upon a time, vacation rental accommodation was called self-catering, and that is what people did.

They self-catered. They were self-reliant and generally looked after themselves.

If a light bulb went out, the guests were happy to change it; if the toilet paper ran out, they would go out and buy some more, and if something broke, they would improvise until it could be fixed.

Guests today are more demanding; they expect higher standards in accommodation and service, and when they don’t get what they expect, they complain.   And in the course of modern complaining they will head to social media where they will share their angst with their entire following. [Read more…]

VRS113 – Accessible Vacation Rentals with Andy Renals

Today’s guest lives in one of my bucket list spots – the Mediterranean island of Cyprus – and it is one of my destinations for 2016. In fact, we are booked into his Villa Carpe Diem for a week in September, and can’t wait.

Apart from being beautifully located on the ancient island of Aphrodite, the property is completely accessible for people with disabilities and has a fully equipped and self-contained adapted apartment on the lower level.

Owners, Andy and Niki Renals custom built the villa with disabled guests in mind and the outcome is a niche accommodation option that is regularly booked by disabled guests and their carers. There is even a wheelchair adapted vehicle (WAV).

Andy talks about why he chose to create this adapted space and how he works with booking partners in the disability sector to fill the property. We also discuss the comprehensive access statement that Niki has developed to ensure guests know exactly what is available to them. [Read more…]

VRS112 – The Step by Step Foolproof Process to Delight Your Guests

When I talk to an owner about delighting guests and what that means to them, they will invariably talk about the first impression their guests have of their property, the guest gift they leave, and the amenities they provide.

But there is so much more to creating happiness than the origami towel in the shape of a swan, and a few paper rose petals on the bed.

If that seems a little trite, let’s just say that the process for delighting guests doesn’t hinge on one action – it’s a combination of several, and it’s important to give equal attention to every step.

It starts from the very beginning, because if you don’t capture their attention at the outset, you’ll never get the opportunity to delight at a later stage. [Read more…]

VRS105 – Is Your Vacation Rental Really Family Friendly?

From the early days of vacation rentals, families have found them to be a great alternative to hotels, and all the listing sites tout families as being a prime group to target.

So, why do so many owners fall short of expectations and fail to provide many of the essentials to modern day parents?

Probably because they haven’t been parents for a long time, and things have changed dramatically since the days they used to kick the kids out of the door at the start of the day and tell them not to be late for supper.

Parenting now involves a lot more and if owners are to meet the needs of families with all ages of children, they need to consider what is the new ‘normal’ and get equipped and prepared for them.

Nikki Woodson Blair is a mom to three kids and she has experienced many vacations where a little more attention to detail and an understand of parental (and child) needs would have made a big difference. [Read more…]

VRS103 – How to Be a Location Influencer on Instagram with Thibault Masson

With 400 million monthly active users, and 70+ million users who access the platform daily, there’s clearly some potential for adding Instagram to our vacation rental marketing toolbox. And since it is free to use, and relatively easy to learn, there are few barriers to entry.

Some owners and VR marketers have embraced Instagram as their platform of choice so I naturally gravitated to one of these to get an experts view of how it should be used for the best effect and to create the most impact.

Thibault Masson has been a previous guest on Vacation Rental Success talking about his properties in Bali, St Barts in the West Indies and Paris, so it was a delight to have him join me again and share his insights into Instagram and how it has helped him to become a sought-after authority on his locations. [Read more…]

VRS099 – The Digital Handshake With Will Franco

It’s no secret that video will give you an edge in social media marketing. Stats from Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus suggest that a short video can boost engagement and increase traffic to a website.

So why aren’t more people using it?

Most would argue that the cost of equipment, time involved in editing, and issues about just getting in front of that camera are the three major barriers for them. I get this, because in some way each of those barriers has impacted me too.

But, what if every time you got an enquiry for your property, or a prospective new listing if you are a PM, you followed up not by email but with a personalized 30 second video?

Then you sent another video to introduce your team after the booking or listing is confirmed, and finally a thank you message with a call to action.

Three short videos that take only a few minutes to produce but have a pronounced impact on your guests or clients.

My guest in this episode effectively dispels those concerns and describes how these mini-productions could give you a serious edge over your competition.

Will Franco is the founder of Jive Systems – a solution that can help you dominate your competition with short personalized video email messages and he shares some very simple steps you can take to revolutionize the way you do business with your clients.

In this episode Will talks about:

  • How a video message gives a mental framework making you memorable and trustworthy.
  • Using video for gaining more conversions, increasing authority, improving trust and rapport
  • How a Gulf Coast realtor and property manager boosted her business by 30% with a 30 second video
  • When to use personalized or evergreen video content
  • The only three video emails you need to send and how to create them effortlessly
  • The 3 hesitations most people encounter when thinking about doing video
  • Why there is no need to waste money on expensive cameras when a webcam will do the job just as well
  • The reason why editing is unnecessary
  • How you can go from start to publish in minutes

Will has an exclusive limited-time offer for Vacation Rental Success listeners and he is looking for a select few owners that he can invest his personal time with to learn more about them and help them get results.

There are only a few spots available so if you are interested, email me personally at and I’ll forward your interest onto Will – he will then contact you directly.

Sites mentioned in this episode

Jive Systems

Digital Handshake training

Five Star Gulf Rentals

Webcam vs DSLR camera

How one sales agent increased closing ratios by 30%

VRS090 – How to make your international guests feel at home

We’ve had friends staying from UK for the past two weeks, and been in long discussion about the differences between the UK and Canada, from driving on the other side of the road, to their expectations of shopping and eating out.

I remember my first trip to the US and being completely thrown by four-way junctions and being able to turn right on a red light. And we very nearly got ticketed for not stopping for a school bus – it’s not required in England!

Then, we recall arriving in Ontario on one of our first trips to find it was a public holiday and there were only gas stations open with minimal provisions. My husband has never forgotten the first night of that vacation – a couple of packets of chips (crisps) and no beer, after an 8 hour flight and a 3 hour drive!

So, from the very early days of our vacation rental business, we’ve been conscious of the need to let our international guests know what to expect. [Read more…]

VRS080 – The 5 Most Important Elements of Your Vacation Rental Welcome Book

I go to a lot of vacation rentals – as a guest. The only time I ever stay in a hotel is near the airport before an early morning flight, or when I’m at a conference and want to be on-site.

Of course I’m ultra-critical just because I’m in the business, but I select carefully and am usually very happy with my choices. The one thing that is often disappointing is the Welcome Book/Property Guide.

I have high expectations particularly when I’m somewhere I haven’t been before. I want far more than a scrappy folder with out-of-date tourist information and scribbled notes, but that is often what we see.

And then owners tell me that no-one ever reads it anyway so why bother?

Well, you should bother and in this episode I tell you what I think are the most important elements in your Welcome Book. And…the best ways of delivering it. [Read more…]