Electronic Guidebooks

Do you use an electronic guidebook that you can send to guests before they arrive with all the information they need during their stay?

We’ve always printed a house manual personalized to each guest, but our printer is starting to go wacky and it looks like it’s going to cost nearly a thousand dollars to get it working like new again! (Toner cartridges, new drum, etc.). So, I was thinking it would be cool if we could do it electronically.

If worse comes to worse, we could always just convert our normal manual into a pdf file and email it to them a few days before they arrive.

I just checked out Coral.life and Hostfully.com.

I found that Coral.life really was the best for our needs. They have slots for all the information we’d like to give to our guests and they give you the flexibility to write exactly what you want to say. No uneditable canned messages.

Hostfully, seemed to be put together by people who have never hosted themselves but thought, ‘hey, this would be a great idea for Airbnb hosts’!

I say that, because they had pre-written certain things that we can’t edit and they weren’t exactly to our liking. For instance, they say, “Select the statements that best describe how your guests will gain access to the property”. The choice that comes closest to meeting our needs is “We’ll be there to meet you, if not contact me on arrival.”

Well, we would never say, “if not, contact me on arrival” because there is not a chance in the world that we won’t be here! And we don’t want to leave guests with the impression that we take hosting so casually that we might be out and about - and just give us a call when you arrive and we’ll rush right home to let you in! PLEASE! We would NEVER say that!

But it’s the kind of thing someone who has never actually hosted might imagine that a host would want to say, but a real host would know better! Apparently, there’s no way to change this wording. This is the type of phraseology you’d expect from corporate types who had a big idea, but have no real world experience in the field they’re working in. (That’s my impression anyway).

Or, another mandatory field is called “Bag Storage” and our choice says, “You can store your bags in the listing all day.” Well, we would never call our place “the listing”! It’s not a listing, it’s a home or a house or an apartment.

And yet another mandatory field on Parking. This time they force us to say, “Economical parking stations are available nearby!” Nobody in the U.S. calls parking lots, parking “stations”! And you can’t change the wording! And I wouldn’t say “Economical” either - I don’t really want to remind them AGAIN that it costs something.

So, I prefer Coral over Hostfully, but Coral’s website is abysmally slow, a little quirky and doesn’t always seem to work just right.

Hostfully has a gorgeous website that’s really fast. But, as beautiful as it is, I find the guide that Coral sends, is beautiful in its simplicity. A guest would have absolutely no trouble finding exactly what they need. It’s laid out in a very logical way and it flows well.
And we get to deliver the information in our own words without any interference from them with mandatory pre-written canned messages. Hostfully, while graphically prettier, I find the beautiful graphics kind of distract from the information.

And it seems, you can’t connect either one of these to your Airbnb account so they could send these guides out automatically. It’s a real pain to have to do this manually! And I’ll probably forget to do it half the time. And apparently, people can’t download these into their phones or tablets for offline access. A lot of our guests don’t have any online access because they’re coming from other countries. So, that’s a real drawback.

Anyway, I was just curious if anyone had other suggestions that I may not have stumbled upon yet.

Thanks for any help you can give!

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Don’t see the point of paying a third party to do this for you.

Just email guests a PDF you create and leave a standard printed version in their rooms.

Well, so far, neither of these is charging anything. At least not for the two listings we have.

I might pay a little bit because if they do it right, they can put your guidebook or manual in a really cool format that’s easy for guests to use and navigate through.

But I might just end up sending them a pdf file. That way they can access it offline or they can print it.

With Coral though, I was able to put all the information we have in that file, into their system without any trouble at all. The way they have their categories setup fit in perfectly with what we give our guests in the pdf file. But the way it’s presented through Coral is a much cooler way than the three sheets of paper we give them.

I just make a PDF with photos. I’m a professional writer so it’s easy for me. I just summarized on another thread what I have in it.

I would not print it out, nor would I pay to have it composed.

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Funnily enough, I was looking at these options yesterday!

This link summarises the ones that seem to be available., though I don’t know why it doesn’t mention Coral Life. I rather liked TouchStay, which I’m trying out.

There is also a free Android app mentioned by a developer from Poland on this forum, which you put on a tablet or old android phone you have lying around and give to the guest. I’m not sure how to reference another thread here, but you could search “New tool to take care of AirBnb guests” as the title. His app is available on Google Play and it looks quite good to me. It’s free for two listings. I think it’s called thehospitalityapp.com

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Kona, that’s what I’m trying to do - get away from printing. We’ve been printing these things for so long though, I’m kind of scared to stop doing it! Now, when our guests arrive we have a three-page packet sitting on the desk in their rooms. They seem to enjoy going through it and we also use it to explain a few things to them in person - to make sure they get it.

So, have you been doing this electronically for awhile? If so, I take it you’re happy with doing it that way? I’m just worried that it won’t work for everyone. We have people coming from out of the country all the time - as I’m sure you do. They don’t have any internet access when they first get here. So, I’m just a little leery of how well it will work.

I was thinking if we sent it to them 2-3 days before they arrive, then most of them will be able to get it. But I know some small number of them still wouldn’t be able to.

Paper is 100%, but I hate it anyway! So I’d love to hear from your experience how you’ve been doing this.

Thank you so much for these suggestions! Really helpful.