Welcome cottages: When a guest feels well and truly welcome by a caring owner (even when that owner is not present), they are far less likely to complain about anything after that and far more likely to award 5-star reviews. Impressions gained during the first minute of arrival will make a world of difference.
None of these is a ‘trick’ or underhand tactic. They are all excellent common-sense things that help your guests feel that they are about to enjoy a happy and memorable week in your property. Give them that pleasure!
By the way, a sure sign that your house isn’t properly welcoming to guests is a regular flow of small, often inconsequential complaints): A light bulb not working, a single cobweb or dead fly on a windowsill etc. Such things are commonly used to beef-up a request for a refund or bad review.
Here are our top ten, tried and tested ways to make guests feel that they made a very smart choice when booking your holiday cottage.
1. Lighting: Leave exterior lights, hall lights switched on before your arrival time. Tell guests where the main ground-floor light switches are in your advance email, so they don’t end up fumbling around in darkness at any point in the first few minutes).
2. No subliminal 'early warning' signs: A coffee ring on a coaster, a sticky door handle / table-top or smear on a mirror means the cottage hasn’t been cleaned. Be scrupulous!
3. A Handwritten note from the owner written on or in something nice such as a postcard. (See also the bonus tip at the end). We know of some places where young children are welcome, to leave a personalised special welcome message to children written in fridge magnets!
NB: If you do leave out postcards of your cottage for guests to use, only about 3 in 10 will be posted. Put 2nd class stamps on them and they’ll all get used!
4. High-scoring front door: Your entrance door should unlock easily, doesn’t stick or squeak when opened and doesn’t have a sticky handle. Brass handles: polished or unpolished send out an appropriate subliminal signal too.
5. Garden power: No weeds, litter or cigarette buts on the garden path to the front door.
6. A picturesque (as well as flavourful) Welcome Pack within view from the hall so that it is one of the first things they see. The best ones feature local produce. Leave the light on in the room containing it to act as a natural draw to after-dark arrivals.
7. Correct Aromas: Ensure your hall or whichever room guests first walk into smells naturally nice. Use fragrant flowers or a suitably natural clean-smelling cleaning fluid fragrance. Don’t use plug-in fragrances or perfumed candles – they mean you’ve got something to hide.
8. Fridge contents: No ‘leftovers’ but something appealing and instantly usable like a pint of milk, large (preferably local) pork pie etc.
9. A Brand new (still wrapped) pack of playing cards: Included them within your welcome pack so that guest will know they can keep them (this really is a complaint-stopping, 5-star review trigger) and if you buy 20 at a time you can still get them online for less than around 75p per pack.
10. Warmth: Put the heating on an hour before arrival time, especially out of peak season. Ensure the ambient temperature inside is higher than outside so guests can immediately feel the reassuring difference. NB: If it’s 80-degrees outside, then ensuring the inside is cooler has the same impact. Think seasonally!
11. Bonus Tip: No 'No's on Arrival: While everybody has sensible rules, avoid allowing people to see or read signs that start with _nO- or Do not' until they are properly settled in. Being told 'don't do this' before you've had time to take your coast off creates a subliminal but strong negative vibe that influences your whole perception of the cottage and whether its guests are really-truly welcome. Take a leaf out of the Coventry Cathedral 'Welcome Notice. IT's superb!
Why not create your own notice in a similar vein. Do send it to us - we'll publish all the best and most enjoyable examples.
Email them to me, Rick Bond at firstname.lastname@example.org
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