How much info is too much info: house manual

I feel like the longer I do this, the more clueless people I encounter. Which, I suppose, is just the nature of this business. But I feel like I would be insulting someone’s intelligence to give instructions on some things that seem, to me, obvious.

Things like: how to turn on a light…how to lock a door…how to use the toaster…how to operate a faucet…how to open a window…how to get the shower to “shower”… How much detail do you put into in your house manuals? I’m trying to strike a happy balance here–do I really need to say things like “put the switch in the up position to turn on the light and in the down position to turn off the light”? Our place isn’t weird!

Maybe I have just had a recent spate of clueless guests, but man!

I’m probably not the best to give advice. I am in the “go overboard” camp as a result of bitter experience. I have a two-sided list of instructions in a plastic sleeve in my manual on how to work the TV, complete with photos and superimposed red arrows. I have a laminated sign over the toilet listing what IS NOT to go into the toilet (wipes, feminine products, etc.) and what IS to go in the toilet (ONLY toilet paper). Did this prevent a guest from dumping coffee grounds in there? Nope.


My house guide is quite detailed, but it doesn’t matter as I only know of two guests who have read it.

M house handbook just does the big stuff. People do read. I have to reprint more regularly than I would have expected. I do not indicate how to turn off and on lights. So far, people have been able to figure that out.

But, sometime people can’t figure out the coffee maker. Two people have had issues with pulling the shower diverter. One person couldn’t find the power button on the TV remote control. I am NOT going to include this kind of think in my handbook. I will help those few people deal with their specific issues as best as I can. I live in the house. If they have an issue they can come down the stairs and ask me to help.

I have had two guests this month pull the faucet handle off. You’d have to try really hard to do that. The first one broke it; the second one broke the fix, and the third is probably coming soon. It’s not a pull, people–just turn it. Like the arrows say.

I cover the big stuff in the manual then probably go overboard with notes placed where they are relevant (e.g. Light switches are labeled with what they turn on, one ceiling fan is oddly wired so on/off/speed information close to fan, how to turn on/off the Keurig brewer (button on back of unit), how to lock the sliding glass door, etc.)

I think people do better with snippets of relevant information. A P-touch label maker is my friend.

The labels are fairly small so it doesn’t tacky up my condo too badly.


I have a p-touch too, so maybe I will do that. :slightly_smiling_face: Less obtrusive.


I have TV instructions and AC/Heater instructions in the book along with feminine products warnings. If you can’t figure out how to turn the faucet, you’ll be thirsty. I have labels on the light switches because there are several kinds (rotary dimmers and flip switches) for lights both inside and outside the cabana. Even so, guests often forget to turn off outside lights when they go in for the night…

The thing to remember is that just because “things are obvious” to you, they may not be to foreign guests. An apartment heater in Scotland that was timer set to turn off in the night was something we just don’t have in America, was one we ran into last month. Like the discussion awhile back about foreign guests complaining about the cold and lack of heat when the local host considered it a balmy 70 F.

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Many people DON’T read! Forget the house manual, they don’t even read the listing on Airbnb! We rent rooms. I recently have had several guests come in thinking they get the whole house. No, it’s pretty clear it’s one room. I had one recently who broke my long running, consecutive 5 star streak by giving me 3 stars because “I didn’t know you were putting us in the basement!” The first line of the listing says, “This basement room is …” They try to book bringing infants or little kids when it’s clearly stated no one under 12. It’s so frustrating that people don’t read what they’re getting into and then punish us for it!


It’s annoying when that happens.

I eventually got tired and designed a professional tri-fold brochure that lists house rules and checkout procedures. But it only gets read because right next to it are all the fun stuff you could do in our town and restaurants close by. Entice them with the good stuff and they will read it all!
Best of all, it’s great marketing tool as they get to keep it. There was so much interest, I decided to do this as a side gig creating brochures like this for other hosts. I am charging 50-200 tops for the design, based on house size. You print wherever you’d like once you get the design. It is small, compact and to the point. If anyone is interested, let me know and I’ll get in touch privately.

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I have written up a 12 page PDF (yes you heard correctly!!!) full of great info about sightseeing and other tips around here. In addition to the house stuff.

I know not everyone rads it, but sometimes guests surprise and shock ,me by mentioning some little part of it!

Keep in mind I am a contract writer for a major global guidebook publisher, and I write in the voice of the guide… friendly, insider, as though I were talking to family and friends coming to visit.


When it come to providing information to your guests, there is no such thing as too much information. The host who tries to explain everything to me the day I arrive exhausted is not as likely to make as good an impression as the host who leaves a written house manual, or better yet, a link to the manual as an online document, something I can peruse at my lesiure, hopefully several times before the day of arrival.

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