Nothing makes guests feel more welcome than a handwritten note or a bouquet of fresh flowers. And when guests have a memorable stay, they’re more likely to leave glowing reviews, tell their friends and family about your space, and even come back for another visit.
Delighting your guests with a warm greeting can make them feel appreciated, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money. From thoughtful notes to freshly baked treats, here’s how some hosts around the world have gone above and beyond in welcoming their guests:
1. Write a friendly welcome note
When guests are traveling, a personalized welcome can be the difference between feeling homesick and feeling at home. “I have a little chalkboard in each room that welcomes the guests, and I include their names each time,” says host Huma of London. “It's such a small touch, but they really love this.”
You can leave the same sentiment in a handwritten note. “I recently decided to start to leave a welcome treat with a card,” says host Trude of Edsberg, Sweden. In your note, you might include your favorite place to get a coffee or a fun fact about your area.
2. Give your guests a taste of your town
One of the best ways to help your guests get settled is to introduce them to the top spots in your neighborhood. “We have a local bakery that makes a cinnamon cream cake that I happen to love, and I brought one to the first guest,” says host David of San Antonio, Texas, who now treats all of his guests to his favorite cake.
3. Put your own baking skills to work
If you’re a great baker, consider highlighting your hospitality skills by making your specialty for your guests. “I started leaving a few homemade cookies,” says host Beth of Roraima, Brazil. “I get a lot of return business, and the cookies have been commented on multiple times.”
4. Get your guests involved
In addition to offering a sweet treat, host David of San Antonio, Texas, leaves wine for his guests. “There’s a hashtag: #takeabottleleaveabottle,” says David, who encourages guests to replace the bottle they enjoyed with a new one. Over the years, the collection has grown: “We have a wall with five different types of wine,” he says. The one-in, one-out idea makes this an affordable option. You could also try this with books!
5. Create a snack basket
“We realize that people come to have a good time,” says host Jerry of Atlanta. “A lot of times they come back home, and they have the munchies.” So he now stocks his kitchen with a basket of snacks like microwave popcorn, cookies, potato chips, and pretzels.
6. Customize your treat
Get to know your guests, and be aware of their needs. “We leave a treat at check-in,” says host Laura of Frederick, Maryland. “Sometimes it’s local cheese, chocolate, or baked goods. Sometimes it’s local beer or a bottle of wine.” She messages her guests about any dietary restrictions first: “Not everyone drinks or can eat cheese, so I ask.“
If your guests have kids, a packet of stickers or a few juice boxes can be a thoughtful surprise. “If there are children, I leave a lollipop or small bag of candy and a small box of crayons [with a] coloring book,” says host Ann of New York City. And if your guests are traveling with pets, consider having dog treats on hand to share with their furry friends.
7. Show off your local culture
If there’s something inexpensive that your region is known for—such as leis in Hawaii—consider leaving something small to delight your guests at check-in. “One of the biggest things that we provide here is Mardi Gras beads,” says host Jordan of New Orleans. Guests appreciate these souvenirs, which can help them remember their stay long after checkout.
8. Get a little help from nature
From fresh flowers to homegrown vegetables, guests love the great outdoors. “I pick a sweet little bouquet for the guest room from my garden,” says host Sarah of Sayulita, Mexico. Fresh fruit or vegetables from a garden can also work well. Don’t have a garden? Inexpensive flowers from the grocery store or local market can be a colorful way to welcome your guests.
9. Save money by buying in bulk
Stocking up on supplies can save you time and money, but you can still add your special touch. Host Karen of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, buys her cookies wholesale, “which provides us with a super low-cost biscuit,” she says. She also found a quick way to personalize the treats: “We bought a sealer, and we package and seal the biscuits with our own label.”
10. Celebrate special occasions
Whether guests are visiting during a birthday, anniversary, or holiday, you can help make their stay even more memorable. “We had one couple staying for New Year's, so we got them a bottle of champagne,” says host Damon of Atlanta. Host Jennifer of Ontario, Canada, also keeps the occasion in mind. “If a guest is here for a specific celebration—birthday, honeymoon—I leave a little something appropriate to mark their celebration,” she says.
Going above and beyond to welcome your guests is always appreciated but remember: Hospitality doesn’t have to cost anything. A handwritten note can still show your guests you’re thinking of them, which can make all the difference when they’re far from home.
Hello Lawrence - We have been watching our bottom line recede into the distance over the last couple of years. When we were on goodish rates - the extras were a joy to provide. Now, sadly, we are finding that its cheaper nightly rates, higher costs in every direction, guests with higher expectations though wanting us "to give our best price", matters like bushfires, and floods, and now the coronavirus. Tell me about it. For us the time of plenty is over ....
Pick a fair price compared to similar properties in your area and stick to it. I can't stand people who want my "best price:. This is the price for everyone. I do give discounts for return guests when I know that they will look after my property .
My worst guests have been the ones that requested a discount (and we would foolishly agree) They give us not great reviews and the truth is, if they expected a discount straight away, they were never going to see the value in our listing anyway. Also, they continue to see how much more they can get from you. We’ve learned our lesson, now when someone requests a discount we simply decline them. We’re not interested in hosting that type of mentality- ‘sometimes the price is just the price. Accept it or move on.’
@Jen99 This is true all around the world. Stick to your prices, value your home. As soon as someone asks me for a discount - I say NO. Price is as listed. That’s a different kind of mentality.
I totally agree with this. Guests who have asked me for a lower price & I agreed have been some time f my worst guests. Living in DC where you really can’t find a hotel room for under $200/night - my fully stocked one bedroom apartment is a great deal & I have finally learned to not lower my price.
Regarding the personalization - we have a chalkboard welcome sign, I always write a welcome note on a card that is crafted by a local artisan & I leave hand made muffins (based on guests’ dietary restrictions. Generally these all make a great first impression on most of my guests.
I used to leave home made muffins or other home made goodies and most of the times people just left them untouched and they ended up in the garbage. My airbnb room is independent from the house so now I just leave popcorn, coffee kcups, tea, hot chocolate packets, instant oatmeal packets and sometimes individual packs of pretzels or cookies. I also ignore any airbnb suggestions to lower my prices I need to cover the AC and heating expenses etc.
@Colleen31, Your place looks great! I'm definitely earmarking it for my next museum trip to DC- guests would be lucky to land your spot in DC.
SOOO true!!!! One of my guest after I gave him a nice discount wrote in his review that he thought the whole house was for 75 bucks a night instead of the apartment with private entrance!!!! I could not believe it.
Hey Betty, we used to get a few people thinking that they were getting the whole house also, it is very well explained in the listing, I tell them how could you stay in a Million dollar home for $80.00 per nite, One guy even offered me $ 1,000.00 per nite, I knew what his intention was PARTY. What I do now is tell my inquiries to please read our listing very thoroughly.
When our guests book, I send them a note emphasizing our offerings, and some things to consider, asking that they please read the details and reviews. We offer our hospitality, and we also want to meet their expectations. I mention that NO we don't have a washer/dryer, NO off street parking, etc. which the details on our listing make clear. Unrealistic expectations = unhappy experiences.
Yes I'm on the other side of the world from you and I find the same. I always try to be accommodating but always the ones who push with the added requests tend to be the ones who also don't see the value in what I provide. I laugh that if I could actually "profile" a guest before accepting, it wouldn't be the guy with the knee length dreadlocks I'd be declining but the 55 year old women.... Never read the details properly, always give lower ratings and always request a discount. Ha.... and I'm a 55 yr old woman!
Nothing stresses me out like a 55-year-old woman coming to stay. I'm one too! All of my bitchy, niggling 4 stars come from middle-aged women. One woman left me a 1000 word essay on all the tiny little things that were wrong - like the broom on the patio wasn't labelled "indoor" or "outdoor". Ya gotta laugh.
OMG , I though that this happened only to me. I am glad I am not the only one, is either they leave you a bad review or they damage something
@Jen99 ! Amen ...... We find that well seasoned guests and the ones asking for discounts are the worst. Our standard answer is ..... “Our prices are reasonable, adequate for the amenity and similar to other properties in our area. We’re sorry but we cannot provide discounts.”
Jen99, somewhere on this board someone said that those who ask a lot of questions ahead of time are going to be trouble. I have not had anything bad but they do tend to be high maintenance!
For our great guests I like to give them a personal offer of a free night with the reservation of 2 night minimum. They have to check the calendar to make sure there is availability, book their 2 nights w/ Airbnb as usual and let me know if they want the night before or after their reservation. It costs nothing to have them stay 1 extra night, if I don't have other guests coming in.
Yes, the first year I told really good return guests to send an inquiry and I'd give them the original price even when I raised the rate.