If you've considered offering welcome baskets at your vacation home but don't know where to begin, we have compiled a variety of great ideas to delight your renters. Because you are simply offering something extra, your guests will appreciate your gift no matter the price point.*
It might be worth your while to get creative and spend some time putting together a unique welcome package for your guests to help encourage referrals and repeat renters. Here are some suggestions for easy-to-stock gifts, fresh treats, and themed baskets.
Your first instinct, no matter where you live or where your home is, might be to leave a bottle of wine for your guests. Many owners, especially in popular wine-producing regions, choose to go this route for ease and simplicity, and let's face it — the almost-universal appeal! There are a number of online retailers (like Wine.com) who offer reasonably priced bottles and will deliver. However, keep in mind that there might be some risk of liability if an accident were to occur. It is best to consult an attorney about the particular laws for your area to avoid problems down the road.
If you don't live near your vacation home, you can still create gift baskets in advance and store them in your owner's closet. For example, you can buy hats and T-shirts from local souvenir shops or even have your home or logo printed onto T-shirts. In this case, buying in bulk will even save you money.
A morning beverage basket is also a popular choice and includes items that won't spoil quickly. You can create baskets with coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, and maybe even a mug featuring an attraction from your area. Local teas would be an especially nice touch.
A snack basket is another option if you use items like popcorn or nuts. You can even set out a bowl of shelled nuts with a nutcracker because it will last longer than most food.
Chocolates will also last a reasonable amount of time, and placing them on guests' pillows will add an upscale feel.
To localize your welcome package, you can always include discount coupons for nearby attractions or leaflets about events in your area. While the events may only occur at certain times of the year, general pamphlets on area activities are always helpful for renters.
If you are fortunate enough to live close to your vacation property, you might consider dropping off cookies or even baking them at the home so your guests are welcomed by the smell of fresh treats. To save time, make a large batch of cookie dough and freeze it so that you just have to take care of the actual baking on check-in day.
If you are able to be at your home before each set of guests arrives, you can go the extra mile by providing fresh fruit, cheese, or flowers. Vacationers always appreciate local fare, so providing something authentic from your home's location is a special touch.
If you are really keen on the idea of fresh items for your guests but you can't get to your home between every renter, consider working out an arrangement with your housekeeping staff. Many housekeepers would be willing to drop off fresh treats when they go to the home for cleaning. Some owners have even shared accounts of their housekeepers offering to bake their own goodies! You could also purchase pre-made gift baskets and have them delivered to your housekeeper or directly to your vacation home.
Another option is to create a welcome gift that is more personalized for your home or your renters. If you own a cottage in a cooler climate, you could provide cider and a S'mores kit. If you own a condo in a beach town, you could create a sun-care gift bag complete with sunscreen, lip balm, aloe, and lotion.
If your home caters to families, you might leave a gift especially for the kiddos. Coloring books or sand toys can go a long way — for the kids and for the parents! Find out their names ahead of time, and you could even add a personalized note.
Don't forget your “special occasion” visitors. Bath products would be a romantic gift for honeymooners or couples celebrating an anniversary. Fresh flowers or champagne (if allowed) would also be appropriate. Taking the time to create welcome gifts tailored to particular guests might even increase your number of repeat renters.
With a little bit of prep work, you can create a special welcome package for each of your guests. Whatever route you choose, your renters are sure to appreciate your generosity and effort.
*In some cases, depending on how your vacation rental business is structured, you might even be able to write off your gift expenses up to $25. Check with your accountant to determine your personal tax implications.
© Copyright HomeAway, Inc. 2008