VRS174 – The Digital Welcome Book with Henry Bennett of YourWelcome

Our industry is growing exponentially, and with it comes a wealth of apps, new platforms for advertising, physical gadgets and resources. It can be tough to sort through all of these and find the right one that suits your property and your needs.

Our new series of product reviews aims to cut through the marketing hype and bring you an introduction to the founders or developers as well as independent testimony from real users.


The YourWelcome Tablet

The most common lament voiced by owners is hands-down, “Why don’t they read the welcome book”. You’ve probably had that call or text from a guest asking how the microwave works, or to tell you they have accidentally disengaged the satellite TV, and wondered why they didn’t just read the information you left them.

Today’s guest had just that experience when he was renting out his London home, and decided to create a better way of sharing essential home details, as well as giving an opportunity to monetise the product too.

The YourWelcome tablet offers a digital platform to share video instructions, text notes, personal messages to individual guests. It claims to:

“save time, increase revenue, and deliver a great hospitality experience to every guest that stays with you.”

Henry Bennett and his business partner, Paul Loram, kicked off the business a mere 6 months ago and have achieved huge results with thousands of tablets in use worldwide. Featured in Engadget and The Sunday Times, YourWelcome is getting great press, and deservedly so.

Also in this episode is a contribution from our friend Gary Miller who has been using YourWelcome in his property for a while, and has found it a great addition not only to his guests’ experience, but to his own organisation. He uses it to play a pre-recorded personal welcome message to each of his guests as well as to demonstrate some aspects of his property by video. How cool is that!

In this episode you will hear:

  • What sparked the idea for Henry and how it reduced query calls from guests
  • How the video element meets the needs of the millennial demographic
  • The way built-in analytics help to reduce information overload
  • What comes in the box
  • How to sell services from within the platform
  • How guests can check in via the tablet why this works for remarketing purposes
  • How the tablet can be used for newsletter sign-ups

The YourWelcome team have generously offered VRS listeners a 10% discount on a year’s subscription

Go to YourWelcome and claim your discount using code: YW10-034

Sunday Times Article

Engadget Article

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

Learnairbnb.com – 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.

VRS115 – Association of Vacation Rental Operators and Affiliates (AVROA) with Rod Fitts

I last spoke with today’s guest a year ago and we discussed his passion for the vacation rental industry and the background to his fledgling community organization, the American Vacation Rental Owners Association. At that time, Rod was working on yet another iteration of his website, and although he had a lot of motivation to make it work, there seemed to be a lot of obstacles in the way, notably getting the technical side running smoothly.

Fast forward a year, and with help from some highly respected industry experts, the newly minted Association of Vacation Rental Operators and Affiliates has been launched. [Read more…]

VRS098 – Choosing the Right Vacation Rental Reservation System with Seb Grosjean

One of my favourite parts of interviewing vacation rental professionals is that they are from around the world. And today’s guest called in from Greece so that’s another country to add to my geographical portfolio!

Seb Grosjean could be called a hybrid developer because he’s a mix of software engineer, property manager and vacation rental user, and he explains how he’s used all that experience to create his property/reservation management software, Booking Sync.

Seb is also a presenter at the upcoming Vacation Rental World Summit where he is going to tell us about the pitfalls, myths, truths and solutions of VR management software.

In our discussion Seb revealed:

• Why not having a robust booking system is risky – even with only one property
• The importance of having your own website
• The key features of a good booking system
• How to choose between system options
• Why tracking customer history is so important
• How channel distribution can impact the time you spend on the customer experience
• That extensible software can give you just what you need and dispense with the rest

There is a free trial period on Booking Sync, and Seb has offered listeners a further 3 months subscription at 50% discount with this discount link.

Links from this episode:

Vacation Rental World Summit 2015

Where you can find Seb & Booking Sync:











VRS079 – Vacation Rental Tax Talk with Hot Spot Founder Rob Stephens

Do you find your vacation rental taxes confusing? Would it help to have a little help with licensing and remitting the appropriate taxes?

For us up here in the frozen north (not so frozen now since spring and humidity have arrived ) we are in a fortunate situation. We don’t pay tax on our vacation rentals.

By that I mean we don’t have any of the multitude of taxation that impacts so many vacation rental owners in most parts of the US. Of course we still pay the federal and provincial taxes, and sales tax once income goes beyond a threshold of around 30K. But thankfully there is nothing else to pay – at the moment. I am sure it will not be long in coming, so learning a bit more about how it’s done down south in interesting.

Hotel tax, lodging tax, transient occupancy fees, tourist tax, are just some of the names put on the pound of flesh your local, municipal, state and federal government are now imposing. On top of that there might be a sales tax and a licensing fee as well.

Some of these might be annual fees but others are monthly or quarterly. Not only do they add up in dollars but there is a hefty time element too – time you probably could you use better elsewhere.

And that is where Hot Spot Tax comes in. [Read more…]

VRS073 – Scott Shatford Airbnb Super Host & Founder of Renting Your Place

In 2002, Mike moved out to Ontario after leaving the British Army. He’d just finished a 6-month tour in Kosovo and at the age of 21 had seen enough grimness to last him a lifetime.

He moved into one of our rental homes while he set up his property management business and began working for our UK travel company, Clearwater Holidays.

Life at first was a lonely but kept himself busy viewing rental cottages and acting as liaison between us in England and cottage owners in Ontario.

rockyOne day when visiting a lakefront property he was met by a friendly golden retriever who made it clear he liked Mike and wanted his company. The owners explained that their daughter’s dog, Rocky, was equally lonely, because he was left alone for long periods and often moved around from place to place as they were frequent travelers and couldn’t take him with them.

Although they loved this gentle boy, they worried that he wasn’t getting the attention he really wanted.

Mike saw an opportunity to have a fur friend to keep him company, at least for a couple of weeks and offered to look after Rocky while the owners went on a trip to the US. And, to cut a longer story short, Rocky had found himself a new forever home where he lived to a grand old age.

Why am I telling you this?

Let’s fast forward to this past Easter weekend.

I’d heard of Scott Shatford of Renting Your Place, from my friend Matt Landau. Scott is an Airbnb super host and the co-founder of Renting Your Place, a site that explains the best ways of renting via Airbnb and provides insights into the profitability of properties by analyzing pricing, occupancy rates and monthly revenues.

I really wanted to talk to Scott and find out more. [Read more…]

VRS071 – Airbnb Management Services with Guesty co-founder Amiad Soto

It only seems a short while ago that Airbnb was seen as a platform for home owners who wanted to make a few dollars renting out a room in their place to a short-term tenant.

In fact when I listen to the episodes of VRS with Jasper Ribbers of Get Paid for Your Pad and Glenn Cooley, moderator of the New Host forum on Airbnb, my questions show I was seriously ignorant of the reach of this juggernaut that is the Airbnb experience.

Earlier this month at the Cottage Life Show in Toronto, I lost count of the number of people who stopped by our agency booth and mentioned they had ‘airbnb’ed’ over the winter. From city breaks across Europe to more traditional US snowbirding locations, whole-home rentals via the listing service are becoming part of the vacation planning strategy for more and more travelers.

With this spectacular growth has come a barrage of add-ons and peripheral services to help hosts manage their listings. [Read more…]

VRS062 – The American Vacation Rental Owners Association with Founder Rod Fitts

I’ve been interested in the AVROA for a few years – the fledgling organization that aims to unite vacation rental owners in a common goal to support each other and become more independent of the behemoth listing sites.

The founder, Rod Fitts, is the owner of several Gulf Shores condos and has a passion for the vacation rental industry that matches mine, so we had a great conversation about the Association and how he feels it will benefit owners and managers alike.

Rod describes AVROA as:

“an association of individual vacation rental owners founded on the belief that when owners come together they can develop their own management services which are focused solely on increasing owner income instead of the shareholder value of some third party.”

[Read more…]

VRS057 – Get Productive in 2015 with 7 Free Resources to Free up your time

Mike and I sat down to reflect back on 2014, and share our plans for the new year. We agreed that information overload and overwhelm was a great part of our experience of the year so wanted to bring you the resources we’ve been using to chart our way through the myriad blogs, podcasts, digital products that come into our inboxes.

During the episode Mike kindly suggested that he would do a quick demo of Canva and how easy it is to use. Check out the video below and see if Canva could work for you. [Read more…]

5 Super Useful Information Sharing Platforms for Your Vacation Rental Business

5_super_useful_information_sharing_platforms_for_your_vacation_rental_businessSome years ago I had a ‘discussion’ with my better half about the value of using images in our pre-arrival information material which I thought were pretty boring and dense with too much text.

He’s an ex-military man who spent a full career following protocols and standard operation procedures, so he felt the idea of including a few cartoon images in an effort to encourage people to read what we sent them, was a complete waste of time.

I think he used the expression ‘dumbing down’ and ranted a little about children’s picture books and their relevance to adult understanding of the world. Of course, I let him have his say as I always do, then made the changes anyway.

More recently when I was researching for my book, Hypnotic Writing for Vacation Rental Emails and Listings, I found so much statistical evidence for using a wide range of media in information distribution, it got me thinking again about the whole topic. [Read more…]