Managing Your Vacation Rental

When Welcoming Your Guests, Go Above and Beyond

Written by Elizabeth Weedon
4.5/5 - (30 votes)


With very little effort or expense, you can make a great first impression on your vacation rental tenants, as well as increase the odds of their posting valuable guest reviews and returning to your home for future stays. Although renting your home is essentially a “business transaction,” it behooves you to make it a personal and enjoyable experience for your vacationers, insuring greater trust in you and respect for your home. As Joan suggests in her recent post, make your tenants feel like guests in your home.

Surprise them with a welcome gift

In addition to providing your guests with little “extras” such as seasonings, coffee/tea, paper products, soaps, etc. during their stay, it’s a great idea to greet their arrival with a welcome gift of some kind. I try, at the very least, to leave a fresh bouquet of wild flowers and leave the house pretty well stocked with supplies every week.

I am always impressed by stories from other vacation rental homeowners who leave their guests bottles of wine, special coffees, even gift certificates or discount coupons to local restaurants or shops. (I spoke with a Vineyard homeowner recently who leaves a Black Dog gift certificate for her guests, figuring they can use it to buy a nice breakfast or a classic Black Dog t-shirt.)

Provide them with a welcome letter

Although a welcome gift is optional, leaving them a welcome letter or packet with information about your home is a must.  This gives you the opportunity to greet them with a personal welcome, as well as provide them with important information about where things are stored, when the trash pick-ups occur, and what your expectations of them are upon their departure. I leave a typed letter, with a map to the nearby beach on the reverse side, that I laminate each season.

Contact them by phone after their arrival

We also recommend that you request your tenants’ cell numbers before their arrival, and then check in by phone with your guests shortly after their arrival to see if they have any questions or concerns. It just takes a few moments of your time, but your vacation rental tenants will appreciate the gesture. It will help to assure their happiness and prevent any unnecessary misunderstandings, too.

Do you leave any gifts for your guests? If so, do you have any suggestions for the rest of us?

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About the author

Elizabeth Weedon

Elizabeth Weedon - Although I’ve worked for since 2008, I’ve been a loyal homeowner on the site since early 1998, just a few months after the website was launched by the Talmadges. I grew up summering on the Vineyard and managed my family's rental home there since the mid-1980’s. I’m passionately devoted to the Vineyard – and to WeNeedaVacation, which I credit with enabling me to hold onto the special property that has been in our family for nearly a century. An enthusiastic member of the WNAV Homeowner Support Team, I endeavor to keep my finger on the pulse of the Cape and Islands vacation rental industry so that I can provide homeowners advice about how to ensure their booking success with us. With owner Joan Talmadge, I am also responsible for editing and writing much of the text on our website, our monthly newsletters, and Homeowner Blog posts.


  • Do you have an example of a welcome letter? We are first time owneers/renters and would like to leave a letter. We were also thinking of making a WElcome book with siome guideliens to the property. We are renting our home in florida in a 55 or older community with a golf course which has a “few” rules 🙂

  • I was happy to see this topic. We were new to the renting thing last year. This year I am leaving my tenants gift certificates to my favorite ice cream shop, and clam bar/pizza takeout place. I also have a Kuerig coffee maker, and leave an assortment of coffees. I have spices etc on hand also. I’m trying to figure out how to leave these things for each tenant when I am not on the Vineyard the whole summer. I was there before my current tenant, so I was able to leave them in the kitchen for her. I left an envelope with the tenant’s name on it a well as a case of water for the next 2 tenants in the basement, because I wasn’t going to be there to run them to the house. I emailed the next one to let him know and will for the next one as well. I’ll be there to leave them for the next 2. I’m hoping that they will appreciate the surprise. I so want my guests to love the Vineyard as I do.

    • Hi, Kathryn. It’s not easy leaving welcome gifts when you’re not able to be there prior to each tenant’s arrival, but it sounds like you’re doing a pretty good job. Some people keep a locked closet or cupboard with extra paper produces, supplies and welcome baskets or gifts. If they cannot be there during each turnover, sometimes the cleaning folks are willing to simply put them out before they leave. I like the idea of providing gift certificates to favorite local places because it’s a great way to promote a favorite place, especially if you happen to know the owners or just particularly like the place. But, Kathryn, I would certainly not worry a bit about your tenants’ not loving the Vineyard – NO ONE is immune to its magic! You just provide a lovely, clean, well-maintained home and continue to be the responsible, caring homeowner that you are – and they will love their stay! (Don’t forget to ask them to post feedback about it on your listing after they leave, though!)

  • I’m entering my first rental season so I was recently researching this subject. I plan on leaving a hand written note card, locally made chocolate bar and a few postcards of local attractions tied with a ribbon for my guests. I’m also putting some fresh flowers in a vase and leaving the stereo on with some relaxing music for when they arrive (appealing to lots of senses). The house will be well stocked with basic toiletries and kitchen staples. I like the idea of a follow up phone call to the guests after they have a chance to check in and settle down, just so they know you are there for them if they should need anything. Yes, it is more work but I think these little extras show that you care about your home and your guests. After all, this is a business! I know I would be more willing to return to a place where the owner exceeded my expectations.

    • Thanks for your response, Rhiannon! I love your idea of appealing to your guests with all their senses! (The chocolate alone would have sufficed to win me over!) That first impression is SO important and often sets the tone of their entire stay. And checking in with them is not only a courteous and “professional” thing to do – it can play a critical role in avoiding any misunderstandings or unnecessary frustrations for your guests. And finally, yes, ALWAYS try to manage your guests’ expectations so that they are pleasantly surprised when they arrive. For a relatively new rental homeowner, it sounds like you’re off to a terrific start! Thanks for sharing your helpful tips.

  • Greetings, Can you suggest a simple and convenient way to encourage reviews from our tenant/guests ??

    Thanks, Herb

    • Hi, Herb. Yes! I see that your home is listed on our site. Your listing with us enables you to quickly and easily generate an email directly from the listing to any past tenants to solicit feedback. Just click on the “Guest Reviews” link in your Homeowner Center and then click on the blue “Request Form” tab at the top. You will see a template of an email with fields to enter the tenant’s name and email address. The template provided is great but can also be edited to personalize the email. Be sure to click the “Send me a copy” box before clicking “Send.” The email your tenants receive includes a little version of your first picture and a “Write a review” button that makes it incredibly easy for them to comply with your request. I try to send my tenants one of these Request Form emails immediately after mailing their security deposit back, and I always start the email letting them know this. Reassuring them that their deposit is on its way back to them hopefully removes any reluctance on their part to write me a lovely review! 🙂
      Hope this helps. Good luck as having many and recent guest reviews posted on your listing has become critical to the success of renting vacation homes.