To House Manual or Not

I live in my Airbnb property so I always give guests a house tour. I am trying to decide whether to do a guest manual or not.
I need to have a way of advertising the house rules such as clean up after yourself and also provide little things such as where the clean tea towels are kept, etc. I am not sure if a house manual is a little impersonal seeing as I live in the house.
Also do anyone know of any templates that are available.

We call ours The Big Book of the Cabana. It has the WiFi codes, house rules, how to use the AC, recommended restaurants, how to use the TV remotes, articles about the area, brochures of interesting things to see and do around the area, restaurant menus, maps, and more. I show guests the book after I’ve given them “the tour”, and point out several things therein.

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I have a House Handbook. I simply can not babble forever when folks have arrived after traveling 12 hours. I have the seven things everyone needs to know, and then I ask them to read the document. I have other handouts as well, like @KenH. Where to eat in Chinatown, where to eat within walking distance, where are the beer pubs, etc. Unlike other hosts on this forum, my guests read the thing. In fact, a fresh copy is covered in chocolate, so I know the last guest read every page.

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I also leave a guest book binder with plastic “sleeves” inside for the pages to go (I can put several of each page per sleeve in case someone wants to take out a page or two). Ours is a whole-house rental, so it also contains lots of information about the operation of the house (where to find the electrical panel, etc.), a page for parents who have children staying with us, check-out list, personal (but not TOO personal) information about our family as their hosts, as well as being a guide book.

As a reminder, I put a copy of the Rental Policies in the binder, and a more “friendly, easy-to-read” set of rules tucked into the cover plastic sleeve.

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Hi @Jacqueline

I have a little guest book and see it as an essential.

Mine gives tips on top attractions, recommendations on local restaurants and cafes, advice on public transport, advice on how to use the shower, TV, oven etc

It also has a copy of the house rules.

Guests naturally won’t take everything in when you show them around so this helps them have a guide that they can read at their leisure.

It’s not impersonal if you give them a personal tour first and leave it as additional information.

I don’t know of any templates just think about what you would want to know about your listing if you were a visitor. Walk through each room they have access to and identify what they might need to know. Then add information about transport - public and taxi’s, restaurants and cafes, attractions, emergency services. top personal recommendations etc I include photos too.

Ours is also well read and I print new copies every so often. I tend to update it with new restaurants, etc. I’m about to update it with more indoor things to do with winter coming.

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When I went to change over my room yesterday, I found my guest book had completely disappeared - I think the guest must have packed it by mistake :frowning: :slight_smile:

I reference my ‘house etiquette and area guide’ in my house rules that guests agree to read it on arrival and abide by it and can ask for a copy in advance to translate. It’s single pages I typed in word so I don’t need to reprint the whole thing when I make tweaks.
In addition to checkout guide, bathroom and kitchen etiquette in it, is a list of ‘emergency contacts like local doctor with map and opening hours, poisons hotline, 911 equivalent’ and other useful info.

I have a separate folder with take away food menus, maps, tourist maps and tour brochures in a few languages with 3 printed books ‘bush walks and scenic drives’, ‘laneways, areas of interest and local markets’ and a general guide book to my country. Saves me a lot of questions and gives tourists something to read and ideas they may not have thought of.

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Thanks for all the advice. I am definitely going to do a house manual now.

I don’t live in my property, but I see a manual as essential. I use a three ring binder with plastic sleeves for my pages. The PDF version of it is online and I email a link to folks ahead of time, although usually with HA/VRBO guests, and not Airbnb.

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Hi @Jacqueline, I take it you primarily meant a printed/bound manual in the guest room.
I’ve refrained from this much as I’ve been tempted to in the past - largely because my content is constantly evolving, it would be too much paper to keep reprinting. Might work for others who are less changey!

I’ve not wanted to go down the email attachment/PDF route either because I don’t want details of my home forwarded about wily nilly.

So I’ve built a custom webpage which generates unique URLs (the links you click to open a webpage) for each guest. This one-page site has all possible info I could think of, categorized and catalogued.
Most guests have spoken very highly of it, even the recent reputation-ruining extortionists!

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What an innovative idea, @Astaire!

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As much as I like high tech solutions, i feel it’s friendlier to provide a physical copy in the unit. Although the host at my recent Airbnb stay in Taipei (a whole house listing) kindly provided detailed instructions, maps, and directions by sending links and photos through Airbnb messages, there was no hard copy house manual. I felt it would have been more convenient to be able to pick up a physical copy, turn to the relevant page, discuss with one’s partner etc. Instead of searching through messages on one’s phone or waiting for a website to load.

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We have a house manual in each of our four listings. It contains basic operating instructions, safety, check-out procedures,pool and hot tub use, maps of the trails on the property and adjacent public lands, child safety, guidebook, house rules and the contract they signed when they rented (as required by our insurance agent) and our contact information. The information is also available to our guests on our Airbnb website as well as PDFs we send prior to their visit.

We greet all guests and orient them to our lodgings but do know that sometimes the information gets lost in time travel and overwhelmed guests. The Manual is just another way they can access the information as well as limiting liability. They seem to be used- with so many different modes of communication the information seems to get to the guests in on way or another.

Absolutely, you should have one. It will help your well-intentioned but somewhat forgetful guests comply with your house rules better, too.

I have several folders of laminated pages. House guide, activities, driving directions, appliance information, restaurants, and drink recipes. And my final arrival email encourages them to grab a cool beverage (supplied by us), head out to watch the sun set, and read the house guide to get to know their home for the next few days.

Yes, of course. But it need not be super fancy. In fact, it’s better if it isn’t, because it will probably disappear periodically for some reason or another. You could create a small electronic document to start with (that abhomination, Microsoft Word, is unfortunately popular) and then print that out and leave it where your guests can find it. And of course, email it to your guests so they have a copy. I recommend sending it directly to their personal email addresses. You may find that this document expands over time.

@Astaire has a point that emailing your guide as a PDF isn’t the most secure thing, since then it can be fowarded to others. And his solution might well be better. But it’s quite hard to stop people from making copies even of custom web pages if they want to. I don’t know if he has figured out a way to stop them doing that.

To start with, it should include your contact information, your house rules, and everything that you want your guests to know about your listing. I think a lot of people include nearby sights/tourist attractions and places to eat as well, but those are less important.

Judging from the other replies in this thread, I’m less thorough about including all relevant information that guests may need, but at any rate, one has to start somewhere.

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In this digital age we live in, if someone’s determined to make a copy of some bit of content, they can. If nothing, just take a screenshot or a photo of the screen using your phone.

So the key is to make it not worthwhile for the not-so-determined. Forwarding an email or PDF attached in an email is far easier than trying to copy paste off each section on my web page, which is doable but tedious.


Right said!

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Awww… you guys don’t like MS Word??? Try the free Open Office suite from Apache. I have no stock in the company, I just love the product. I’ve been using it for a number of years. It will do almost everything Word does; seldom glitches, and it is, after all not MS Word and free…,

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Not really a fan of word processors, period. But Word is also proprietary, and MS has been using it to drive their monopoly for many years.

@Jacqueline, similar to @KenH we have a guidebook that we call ‘The Big Useful Book of Magic Blue Getaway’ (for one of my properties). Here’s my approach:

  • Guidebook, beautifully designed with lots of pictures, descriptions, my personal recommendations about the city and other attractions nearby. Restaurants, menus, my favorite meals, secret spots for best coffee, best this, best that,… It’s also a house manual with descriptions how to use the appliances as well as ‘the rules part’. That being said, most of the book (66 pages) talks about my guests and giving them ideas how they can have a good time. The guidebook is being sent in PDF right after the booking. Also, there’s a print copy in the apartment which they appreciate a lot.

  • Info Board on the wall. This is a magnetic board with most vital information (such as wifi code, the opening hours of the grocery shop nearby, pharmacy, ATM location, how to get the bikes,…and a couple of most important checkout rules) … all there, pinned with a magnet. They just can’t overlook them.

  • 90% of the time I let my guests checkin on their own. For that purpose I shot two videos (3 mins each). One for how to get the keys and enter the apartment. The other one how to park their car at our parking slot in the underground garage and come back to the apartment. I also let them download the screenshots in PDF format to their phone. I send these two videos (actually links to the unlisted Youtube videos) two weeks ahead of their arrival so they can get familiar with them and save them to their phones (or print the instructions out).

  • I also shot the third video. It’s my welcome video for peeps who are checkin in on their own. In this video. With the help of this video I give them a virtual tour around the apartment. After giving them the tour, I sit around the city map and explain everything as I would if I was there with them. I let my son help me with the shooting and it turned out great. People love it as I show up in the video and they can have a feel for who I am and how do I look like (I think it does matter). The link to the video is prominently displayed in a plastic holder that’s right under the TV (so they definitely see it, when they enter the apartment).

  • Lastly, for a very few rules that I definitely want my guests to respect, I have nicely designed small stickers placed at the strategic spots throughout the apartment. There are not many of them, but the ones that made me feel frustrated in the past. For example:

    • to use the exhaust hood when cooking (no smells around the apartment, plus my fire alarm doesn’t get triggered)
    • to use the provided makeup wipes and not the towels for makeup removal (eliminated this problem 99%)
    • to avoid placing the luggage on the bed or the sofa and instead use the luggage stand (bed bugs!)

Here’s the amount of work invested:

  • Guidebook (66 pages): 10 hours
  • Self checkin video (getting the keys): shooting, editing… 5 hours
  • Self checkin video (parking the car): 5 hours
  • Welcome video - 10 hours

Currently, I have two properties at the same location so I could re-use most of the stuff mentioned above for the second property.

That’s it. Sure, it sounds like a lot of work. And it is. That being said, even though I don’t actually see most of my guests in person, I’m getting raving reviews. It’s going to be 300th review soon, 98% of them 5-stars. So, I guess, I’m doing something right.

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