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Do you have a guestbook for your guests to sign after they have stayed at your property? What is your percentage of people who write comments in it? I have people say wonderful things at check out or in emails but so many of them don't write in the book. I keep it with the welcome book with a pen and ask people to sign it before they leave. I don't know why so many people don't take a few minutes for a quick note. Thoughts?
Yes, we have a Guest Book at our cottage. In fact it is the first thing I check when I do the change over between rental groups. I would guesstimate that about half of the groups take the time to write something in the book.
It's good to be able to look back and see what people have written about over the years. Some people have their children draw pictures of the cottage or of the animals they have seen or the places where they have been. We have a number of families that have been staying at the cottage for years. I am sure the kids get a kick out of seeing what they wrote about and the pictures they have drawn over the years.
I think we just have to accept that some people will take the time to write in the book and some people won't.
Totally agree, some will contribute, others won't. I know when I rent the guestbook is one of the first things I read once settled. I notify guests in the welcome arrangements about the guestbook and ask them to contribute.
Yup I have a guestbook as well. It's usually the first thing I head for when I check on the house between vacationers, the comments they leave bring a smile to my face when I see that the guests have enjoyed themselves .
Like the posts above sometimes the people write sometimes they don't.
We have a guest book too. I tried to make it look fun. I bought a spiral journal from Target that has ruled pages (and lots of them) but, contrary to my typical taste, it is white with neon green, pink and magenta polka dots all over it! I made a sticker to match it in the same shape as the dots using MS Publisher, and Avery label stickers, and wrote a little blurb about "share your experiences - write about yourself - tell others about your favorite finds!"... we leave it in the kitchen on our bar counter near our House Info Book, and their packet of brochures.
We put two sets of keys to the house and the garage door opener on top of it (we put each set of house and pool keys on one of those stretchy spiral wristband key chains in the same neon green color as the green polka dots on the guest book.) When we check people in and we get to that spot, we tell them, "Here are your keys... there are two sets..." etc. and then we segue into the guestbook that is underneath them. We point it out, and spend a minute asking them to please write something in it before they leave, and we emphasize about how it's kinda nice for the next guests to read about a great restaurant that they enjoyed, or a particular attraction or side trip they took... in other words we emphasize to use it to write more for an experience that they would like to pass on to future guests to help them find fun things that THEY enjoyed. We never ask them to write about the house, (but invariably they do say thank you.) We also point out how years from now, when it gets a lot of entries in it, it will be fun for guests to look through it and see that someone from [Germany or somewhere exotic] or [their home town] stayed in the house. After that comment, without exception, every guest has smiled and commented something like, "Oh, that would be fun!"
Then, just before they check out we ask them to put one set of keys and the garage door opener back on the Guest Book, and leave the other set of keys [wherever we have arranged.] We also ask them nicely if they added anything to the Guest Book? They either say Yes! or No, but we will! We always enthusiastically say, "Oh great! Thank you!" I think that last exchange, without meaning to, rather commits then to put something in it.
Albeit, we have only started renting this past January, but so far every guest, with the exception of one, has not only signed the Guest Book, but they have put in at least a full page of writing. The one guest who did not sign it was here for surgery nearby, so I'm sure she didn't feel like writing! One family wrote three pages of notes about the house, things they did and enjoyed, and then their daughter added her own entry. Like everyone else mentioned, the Guest Book is the first thing we look at after someone moves out. It is fun to read what they wrote. It also gives us a feel for how a request for an online review will go over. We haven't had any bad entries or reviews, but if they write nice comments in the Guest Book we feel more confident about asking them to put a review online. Now, THAT we have trouble getting people to do!
Like many of you, the guest comments are about the first thing we look at when we get to our VR. I'd say no more than half of the guests leave comments, but they are uniformly good. If there are any suggestions for us, we follow them. Example: one couple really wanted the kitchen to have a garlic press so we got one.
Our guest pages are in the back of our house book and in our welcome section we ask them to comment for us and other visitors (your favorite beach, restaurant, hike, etc.) We don't have a separate guest book because we have the house book, a detailed A/V instruction folder, and a Green Guide to the house and island which we wrote, and that seems like enough books!
We looked long and hard for a traditional style guest book instead of using a notebook of some sort. We finally found a nice guestbook - that didn't look too "wedding-ish" - at a wedding party store.
We always leave it open near the kitchen table turned to the page of the last renter so each party gets the idea. So far this year every renter but one has added to it. We've only had to remove one page, from a "10 hours to clean the house afterwards" party. It was all nice things, but the language was far too gruff for a family guest book. We'll never rent to them again, but I'm glad they had nice things to say about the house.
Hi, We've had guest books for years and the guest seems to enjoy signing and looking through them. In our arrival instructions, we ask that they sign the book. There are many places to buy such themed books or journals...beachy, snowy, fish, water, usually sold local to the vacation area or try ebay. Good luck, Jim
We just keep our guest book on the sofa table and most of our guests write comments in it. We purchased ours from Journals Unlimited at a cost I feel is reasonable. They have many to choose from but the following link is the book we use.
Like many of you it is the first thing I look at when I check our home and like aznative it gives us a feel for whether to ask for a review.
I was going to post that I bought the cranberry journal advertised on Christine Karpinsky's web site ...
We have been very happy with this journal.
I like the way it directs people to write about particular things, like things they saw, people they met, the weather, favorite sightseeing spots, etc.
But ... interestingly, before posting, I read the other posts here in more detail, including clicking on the links ... and guess what, the Journals Unlimited store recommended by waiohai, is selling the exact same thing!
Here it is:
Waiohai, that was very resourceful of you, to find that Journals Unlimited store.
We really like the journal. It feels like about 70% of our guests write in it.
Sometimes I wonder if people feel like they don't need to leave us an online review, since they already left comments in the journal. I wonder if it feels like "double work" to them?
So ... to make less work for the guests ... sometimes I scan a copy of what they wrote in the guest book, and I e-mail it to the guest, when I ask for an online review.
I figure that might help them remember what they wrote before, when they sit down to write the online review ... because sometimes coming up with the right words to say is half the battle!
Yes, sf, the scanning is a great idea! You really were born for this! Now I'm just bummed that I didn't know about this book before I made ours!
When I write to someone and ask them to post online I usually explain to them how the online reviews really help us with our business, as so many people look to the reviews to help them decide where to rent, and also that it does help move us up in the list of properties. I'm not past groveling, and I also mention about how if they were pleased with their stay, that the online review really does help us with our livelihood. Maybe that's too personal, but I'm not too proud to ask for help.
Still, if they wrote nice comments about the house, I'm going to try your scanning tip. Sounds brilliant!
Hi- I have had a guestbook in both of my rental properties for the past 11 years. They are excellent feedback and great tools for learning what needs are missing, improvements or shift in descriptions of amenities.
My guestbooks ask questions such as: names of guests, ages, favorite memory of vacation, dining recommendations, new places visited, best meal, projects started, books read, favorite room in the cottage and time spent on hobbies, the back page asks for suggestions, ideas and repairs.
I love reading their logs and 99% of the time they are very complimentary. My descriptions and amenities well spelled out in advance so that there aren't any disappointed guests, that felt manipulated.
Interestingly, when the renter complained prior to leaving my cottage or left a somewhat nasty note for the cleaning people, it was a red flag for me to see what damages occurred during their time period. One renter complained that the DVD player did not work and the cable flickered on and off. Never having a complaint prior about the DVD player as well as they all have my cell phone number with instructions to call me about anything, a month later I received a huge cable porno bill, purchased only by resetting parental controls by a spouse with an addiction problem..
Our guest book started on Thanksgiving weekend, 1978, a month after we purchased our cabin. The first guests were my husband's parents and my mother. Personal guests as well as vacationers have signed it over the years. It's one of the first things I look at when I go to the cabin. We've had guests from all over the world! But then, Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places in America to visit. I'm always disappointed if people have not been signing it. Sometimes it gets "buried" and guests don't find it, I think. I should request my housekeeper to make sure it is visable on the coffee table!
Yes we have one and so far every guest but one and they were in a hurry and forgot. We have been very blessed by our guests both in reviews and guest book. I mention it in the welcome letter and welcome email. And yes it is the first thing I go for when we get back to the home to visit I treasure it:)
We also have a guestbook in our villa. Recently our guestbook was removed from our villa and returning guests were asking why it was removed? I just ordered my guestbook from guestbook.com and I am totally impressed at the quality and speedy service of the delivery to Canada.
Periodically, I use my digital camera to take pictures of all the different pages in our guest book at the Willow Bank cottage. I then download the pictures on to my laptop. The hard drive in the laptop is automatically backed-up off site on a regular basis.
That way, by using a .jpeg file, I have effectively backed up all the comments and drawings that were made by our guests staying at the cottage over the years.
Even after all that, I would be very disappointed if our guest book was to go missing from the cottage.
What a great idea. I wish I would have thought of that! I truly believe, but can not prove, that my property management company there removed it. They also rent villas in the area and with the 45 reviews on my site, think that could be the issue. I had 2 returning guests who looked forward to the guestbook and questioned why it was not there. his has been a learning experience for sure....Tara
That is a good idea to take photos of your guestbook. If it ever goes missing, you at least have some record of the contents. I would say about 40% of our guests leave comments. I think many are just too darned busy having fun and then forget to leave a comment. We usually get beautiful comments from those who do write, so I can tell they're the type to take a moment to say thank you in the guestbook. I do not get upset when we've had several weeks with no new comments because I understand not everyone is able or wants to leave an entry. But I will say that when we've had a flurry of guestbook entries...we seem to get even more. When it's had nothing new for a couple of months, new comments are more sporadic. I think people are more inclined to write something if they see the family before them left a comment. If the guestbook appears stale with no recent entries, maybe they think it really doesn't matter if they take time to share their experience. Just a guess.
In addition to asking guests what they liked, what they did or where they went, we also ask:
If we could add just one thing to our home to make it more enjoyable, what would you like to see?
What did you feel was the least important feature or amenity of our home?
Yes guestbook is a best thing to share with the client or guest because it always nice to share great experience with others. What they feel about your hospitality, etc.
I have a short list of things that I ask our guests to take care of before they check-out of our cottage. This list includes such tasks a removing the garbage, closing the windows and locking the doors. On the bottom of that list, I ask them to take a moment to sign the guest book. I have found that this has resulted in more guests taking the time to jot down a few thoughts before they depart.
It seems to work for me.
I have a guestbook at my cottage. I purchased a fairly inexpensive one online in the $30 range with the name of my cottage printed on it. It had quite a number of pages in it, so it should last several years. Almost all of my guest have signed it, and I have been renting for almost a year. I copied the online review to the guestbook, from the first 4 or 5 guest that responded to my online review before I purchased the guestbook. I added a note at the bottom of each one that it was taken from the online review.
I really enjoyed reading and filling out the guestbooks in the ski condos that we rented over the years, while sipping on hot chocolate or having a drink. Really felt like I was on vacation and relaxing. I was also able to pickup on many tips too for the area or the condo.
Wow, I truly am surprised how many people here are using a paper guest book. For us, it doesn't help in our ad ranking and we can get the same feedback online, so we ask for a digital rating or review on our listing instead. Also, if people write in your guest book (which doesn't really have any advertising value, as people who see it are ones who have already booked) they may then decide they don't need to leave a review online so it could actually work against you.
For my own personal curiosity and feedback I always call the night before check-out, so a physical paper guest book wouldn't help us either way.
Swlinphx, Is there a particular site(s) you have them go to to rate and review? Or do you just say go anywhere online to rate and review? How does that work? Would like to get reviews/comments/suggestions/ratings written and/or online started, but I am new to all this stuff. Thanks everyone for all this great input.
Hi whiteparrot and welcome to the forum!
I have them leave their rating and/or review right on our VRBO or HomeAway listing (one gets automatically published ot another) and copy & paste it to our FlipKey listing as well. Not only can everyone see it before renting, but it helps your rank in search results (the more reviews you have and the average rating, both). I'd rather focus on their contributing there than writing a note for me in the unit itself. Besides, I get personal feedback when I check the guests in and when I call the night before they check-out.
I try to stay away from physical paper items for communication as much as possible nowadays. I've had all my bills "e-mail only" for many years now and get only minimal physical mail.
For us it is more than just a advertising tool, it is something that guests can read while they are staying in our cabin and see what other guests have done/seen and give them ideas of what to do. Also we love to read what guests have to say. We have found that guests are much more likely to write while they are still there on vacation than when they return home to work and everyday stresses.
We found some great ideas for capturing guest comments and these don't involve a book.
Really cool ideas that will make guests want to get involved.
See all 80+ ideas here http://pinterest.com/idodeals/guest-book-ideas/
Some are for weddings but some would be ideal for vacation rental guests. And it adds a little fun.
These stones, for example, could be individually photographed and added to a special guest gallery on the owners website
What do you think?
I always enjoy a fresh take on an old concept so thank for sharing the link to ideas for guest book alternatives!
We have a physical guest book in our condo and do enjoy reading what the guests have written while they are at the condo and enjoying their stay. They often put restaurant recommendations and ideas for things to do so it is helpful for subsequent guests if they should happen to read it.
We have had 18 guests stay in our condo since we started renting it in March of this year. Of those, two have not yet received my follow-up email informing them of their security deposit refund & requesting them to submit a review on our listing. (I send that email one week after their departure.) Out of the remaining 16, we have received ten 5-star reviews. I am happy with that conversion rate!
One thing that we have done is put a large glass jar with lid in the condo with a little sign next to it inviting the guests to contribute to our "Guest Wine Cork Collection". We ask them to write their names, hometown & date of stay on their wine corks & add them to the jar. It is fun to see the collection grow with (almost) each new guest who stays at our condo!