I don’t know about you, but when I go away for a weekend with family, I usually do a quick search on Google to find out some things to do locally whilst we’re there. I might do this a couple of nights before we leave. Often I wonder if we’ll miss out on the best things to do, because we just don’t know the area. Guests don’t have the inside know-how. But the owners of the holiday property do. That’s where a clever digital welcome book comes in. Done well it can really enhance your guests’ experience – and that starts before they even arrive. Recently, I discovered just how much of a difference this makes from a guest’s perspective.

I’ve just got back from a wonderful weekend break at Burlton Cottages in Shrewsbury. I booked it via their website (disclaimer: I was part of the team that built and delivered their website and photography at the end of 2019). So I’d had a good nosey and was aware of the fantastic on-site facilities, as well as family days out nearby and places to eat. But then I received the booking confirmation email – and it contained a link to their digital guest book (created with Touch Stay). That was a game-changer. It was brilliant! These are the reasons why.

1. It creates excitement and builds anticipation

The three of us started REALLY planning what we were going to do during our time there. And we all got REALLY excited. To be honest, that doesn’t normally happen. The few days before we leave are usually a bit frantic. I make lots of lists of what we need to take, jobs to finish before we go and then everything ends up a bit of a mad rush, with nothing much planned in detail for the actual stay. Not this time. Burlton Cottages even include a list of things to take – so I didn’t need to make one. So I’d booked a spa treatment, swim sessions, tickets to the zoo, planned a walk and reserved a table for Sunday lunch all in advance. And we could not wait to get there!

2. It makes life easy

It works like an app, guests simply add it to the home screen of their phone and everything they need to know is right there. Think about all the questions you typically get asked by guests prior to arrival. Then make sure that information is covered in your digital guestbook and you’ll reduce the number of phone calls and emails you get at this stage. Far from distancing yourself, it provides a more comprehensive basis to build relationships from the start. So upload your best photographs, include all the details and add links to all the places your guests like to visit. Then they can find out what to expect and start planning all the fun things they’ll do. Want to know where the closest Farm Shop is? There’s a pin on the map so you can set up your Sat Nav. Need to order a food delivery on your first night? It’s all there. Yes I know that all of this information is on the website (that’s what helps cinch the deal when people are searching where to stay on holiday) – but the app makes everything so much easier.

 

3. It helps guests get the most from their stay

Pre-Covid, guests could get away with a laid-back, ad hoc attitude to planning their stay (or not). But not now. Visiting a historic house and gardens? Buy tickets in advance. Want to enjoy a special celebratory meal at the local bistro? Book a table. It’s less likely your guests will be able to simply show up and get in now. So a good digital welcome book avoids that disappointment. Your guests have an even better time, then they tell their friends and family about it.

4. It’s current and up-to-date

If a restaurant closes down or a new pub opens, the app can be updated straight away. Unlike the old days, when owners had to get a new leaflet to put in the folder in the property – this is instant. So guests won’t waste time trying to get through to a number that doesn’t work any more, or turn up to a restaurant that’s now a private home. Again – it makes for the best guest experience.

5. It’s clean and hygienic

Instead of sanitising a physical information folder, holiday accommodation owners and the cleaning team can spend their time on other things instead. Plus leaflets inevitably get a bit tatty over time.

In a world full of playlists, kindles and Netflix – it makes sense that guest information should be in a digital format too. More and more holiday accommodation owners are investing in professional photography and realising the value in having their own website; this helps them stand out in a search and secure bookings in the first instance. Keeping that momentum going throughout, so every stage of your guests’ journey is the best it can be – from searching, to booking, to planning their stay, to the holiday itself and beyond – is what your guests will remember. It’s what they’ll talk about and likely rave about in reviews.

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