25 Replies Latest reply: Jun 26, 2019 3:21 PM by ohst8er RSS

    Share your story: Welcome baskets

    amanda_ha HomeAway Employee

      Do you provide your guests with a welcome basket?

      If so, what items do you select and why?


      We've collected some inspiration videos here including pet-friendly, BBQ, hiking, beach baskets, and more. Check them out!

        • Re: Share your story
          bonesxxx Active Contributor

          I don't because my property is remote so there is no good place to get one and keep it fresh.  I suppose I could make one with non-perishable goods like breakfast bars and coffee & tea so I am curious what others are doing.


          Oddly I have all five star reviews so I don't think it's being missed :-)

          • Re: Share your story
            linky17 Active Contributor

            (For 'search-able' and archival purposes?  Probably best to re-title this post, to include something like 'what do you include in a welcome basket?')

            • Re: Share your story
              ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

              No, I do not provide a welcome basket of any type.  No liquor or wine.  No bakery products or other food items.  I do not wish to run afoul of bed and breakfast regulations or other licensing restrictions that center around food and drink.


              There was a discussion about this on the forum several years ago....it was very informative.

              • Re: Share your story: Welcome baskets
                twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                I Don’t provide a basket either. My prices can’t justify a basket. However, I provide many other things that some VR owners do not. My daughter is at a VR that she booked this weekend and there was only 1 roll of tp for her family of 5. She and I agree that something basic necessities like toilet paper should have enough for the entire stay of the guests, even hotels provide that????

                  • Re: Share your story: Welcome baskets
                    hickmanhideaway Contributor

                    We provide 15 rolls of TP for our 3 bathroom/4 bedroom, and we allow 8 guests. 3 rolls of paper towels, kleenex in each bedroom and main areas, a fresh sponge for the kitchen, zip lock bags, water for each person when they arrive and enough kureg coffee pods for the first  two days. We discussed what we would want and provide it. No welcome basket, tho. We tried putting out a package of popcorn, but 90% of guests didn't use it.

                  • Re: Share your story: Welcome baskets
                    scowol Active Contributor

                    I previously created a gift basket with a variety of locally-made/sourced items that were all packaged with labels. However, in the past several years, many of the items are increasingly left behind, and I’ve fielded many questions from guests asking a variety of questions. 


                    • Were the ________ produced in a shop that has nuts in it? 
                    • Is _____  kosher?
                    • Does the soap have Parabens?
                    • Thank you for the cute soaps, but we have a fragrance sensitivity so we will leave them for you to give to the next guest
                    • Are there tree nuts?
                    • Is the water bottle BPA free?
                    • Thank you for the _______________, but we only eat gluten free
                    • Thank you for the _____________ but we are diabetic
                    • Thank you for the _____________ but we are watching our weight


                    Guests’ needs are rapidly changing and a bottle of X and a bag of Y simply won’t appeal broadly like they used to.  So today, I leave a welcome “card” with a gift card to a local casual restaurant that is very popular with tourists and locals. The restaurant is in the heart of the “village” and it’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and has a menu that goes on for 35 pages, and has 2 pages that cater to every kind of _________-free diet restriction imaginable. 


                    So we enclose the gift card (amount $20) and a note that says “Please enjoy a lite snack or libation at ______ in the village!”   It’s simple, I spend approximately the same amount on the prior items I put into the gift bag, and I am free from scrambling around town buying products every month and assembling gift bags. 


                    Most importantly, my guests love it and they get to choose what they want and of course no one has ever left the gift card behind/unused.

                    • Re: Share your story: Welcome baskets
                      u0999 Premier Contributor

                      for owners who are remote, it is often all but impossible to provide these things with any consistently. We have to rely on cleaners to place the basket. Cleaners have their own routine and any deviation (i.e one more item that they have to deal with) will likely be forgotten. So then one guest will mention the basket in a review, and others will feel shorted (if housekeeper forgets to set it out for the next guest).


                      I think the trend of advising to provide these baskets comes from Airbnb where "hosts" often live on premises and are in direct contact with guest. These ideas are like gadgets - bloggers love them (hey, they need to fill their blogs with "advice" but no guarantee that advice is actionable or feasible).  Similar to that back-up aftermarket gadget my husband bought for his rear view mirror - at a 1st blush sounds like a "cool" idea..But not everything that is "cool" is practical in real life and many such things have diminishing to 0 return and add 0 perceived value. (By the way gadget is still sitting in a box unopened on the back seat of his car).


                      Some advice seems to come from people who never ran a VR. Like : provide board games and puzzles in a VR ( In real life, kids will misplace game/puzzle  pieces and next guest will give you complaints, not accolades). 

                        • Re: Share your story: Welcome baskets
                          scowol Active Contributor

                          u0999  I felt like I could have written precisely your post!  I'm also remote (which is another reason I do the gift card and envelope only--not a bag or basket).   For some reason, asking the cleaners to merely set out the pre-written welcome card with a gift card inside is a tall order.  I've come back to the house and sure enough, discovered that the cleaners occasionally forgot to put them out for random guests.  I'm sure a few guests felt slighted after reading in the guest memories book (kept at the house) how much other guests appreciated the gift card.   Argh!


                          And yes, don't get me started on the missing pieces of board games...  I would go back to having board games if I could buy one that came with 200 extra spare pieces, which I would put in a giant bin in the closet.  The 200 extra pieces might last a year--perhaps two if lucky....

                        • Re: Share your story: Welcome baskets
                          planthealth Active Contributor

                          No and the whole idea irritates me. What part of VACATION RENTAL is unclear. I AM NOT THERE, it is MY vacation rental. If I were able to LIVE THERE, I would not rent it out (lie, like a drug addict I started with 1, now I have 4, so I would live in 1 and rent out 3).


                          But my point is NO, many of us got into this because we are renting out our place when we cannot use it and we are not ABBing our sofa such that we are there to coddle our couch dwellers.


                          And to the point made above, I am an ethical vegan so if someone left me a cruelty filled gift full of tortured and dead animals, probably would ruin my vacation. That's how I roll.

                          • Re: Share your story: Welcome baskets
                            koko Active Contributor

                            Being in a state where anything and everything nice and normal will be made illegal given a properly tortured excuse, I do not provide any food which is not packaged. So I restrain myself to a package of coffee, sealed salt and pepper containers and wrapped things from the store.

                            Once the guests arrive and need all sorts of things, my house and pantry are open and my herb gardens free to be raided, the grapes for easy picking and fruit on the trees for the taking.

                            I make sure there is ample of toilet paper for all and the whole stay, paper towels and napkins, soap and a drawer full of new tooth brushes, travel sized shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste and feminine napkins, whatever people might have forgotten to pack and would require a trip to a store miles away.

                            I have found that even providing chocolate treats are either the wrong type of chocolate, make people fat or are left to melt in 100F on the patio.

                            I try to make people feel welcome without infringing upon any stupid and not so stupid laws or giving them something which they detest.

                            Since almost everyone has one or multiple allergies I try to be considerate and give only things to people when they are welcomed and appreciated.

                            90% of my guests love the bottle of whatever to celebrate their anniversary, a pie for their birthday along with a special card designed for the rental  and signed by the owners.

                            20 years ago a basket of fresh fruit and a vase of fresh flowers were the perfect welcome. Now I am not sure what people really enjoy aside from free and discount.

                            • Re: Share your story: Welcome baskets
                              haleloli'i New Member

                              We do gift baskets! We provide bottled water in the fridge & a goodie basket with coffee, creamers, snack bars, & Hawaiian chips & chocolates.  We also leave a nice bottle of wine & greeting card if we know it’s a birthday, anniversary etc.  We've reaped the benefits in lovely thank you’ notes & great reviews many times over.

                              • Re: Share your story: Welcome baskets
                                yosemitevalleyview Contributor

                                Renting for 12 years and have never done gift baskets. I provide unlimited TP, paper towels, ziploc bags, spices, foil, plastic wrap, condiments in the fridge, etc. Cost per year is less than one night's rent and I've received many reviews with "best stocked vacation rental I've ever seen."

                                  • Re: Share your story: Welcome baskets
                                    yosemitevalleyview Contributor

                                    also, inexpensive disposable tupperware from Grocery Outlet they can use to take food home is very well received.

                                    • Re: Share your story: Welcome baskets
                                      koko Active Contributor

                                      I am impressed and here is my question:

                                      How do you handle opened bottles and jars?

                                      Do you throw everything out after each stay or do you keep half filled olive jars in that refrigerator? How do you deal with ketchup, mustard etc which probably will be opened and half full?

                                      I had thought about doing what you describe but the waste of food turned me off and I have similar problems with soaps I provide and are used a few times and I have to discard a whole bar of soap.

                                      Anyone else have some ideas here?

                                      Maybe it also depends on the state the VR is in?

                                        • Re: Share your story: Welcome baskets
                                          bonesxxx Active Contributor

                                          Here is what I do: with respect to Soap and shampoo & conditioner, I switched to a shower mounted unit and buy the products in bulk (gallon jugs of Ginger Lilly Farms) from Amazon. I used to do the individual bottles but what a hassle and waste. This is soooo much easier and nobody has complained. In fact a few guests have commented on the ‘lower environmental impact’ I am making. Sure... I’ll take it.


                                          When it comes to food item, I have a half page about it in my cabin guide. I explain that I don’t throw food away between guests and that they are free to use whatever is there and also free to leave items they don’t feel like lugging home (mostly condiments, salad dressing, noodles, etc).  I also ask that they help me out by tossing anything they find that might be old or expired. Maybe I’ve just been lucky because so far (stops to knock on wood), I’ve had no issues. The guests seem to enjoy having mustard, ketchup, Siracha, spices, etc at the ready and definitely appreciate not having to throw away all their food after staying (as I have had to do as a renter many times).


                                          IMHO, as long as you explain it in your welcome guide, guests will accept it. On the rare occasion someone disagrees with my rationale, they have been nice about it and left me a suggestion off line (not in a review).


                                          Having said all that,... I don’t know if it complies with county regulations or not but at this point I really don’t care. Call me a conscientious objector or a civil disobedient or, as my wife does, a ‘small issue activist’ :-)

                                      • Re: Share your story: Welcome baskets
                                        hickmanhideaway Contributor

                                        We provide travel size shampoo/conditioner and soap, enough toilet paper for 8 people for 5 days, paper towels, tissues, kitchen sponge, Kureg coffee pods for the first day, sugar, creamer, spices, salt, pepper, a bottle of water for each guest for their arrival. Zip lock bags, napkins, paper plates and bowels, laundry soap and dryer sheets and the current local bi-weekly paper. We have never considered any of these part of a "gift basket" just the amenities we would like to have when we stay at a VR. The first year we did have toothbrushes, toothpaste and sanitary supplies, but they were never used, so we discontinued those. With already providing everything they might need, we don't feel we need to have a specific gift basket.

                                        • Re: Share your story: Welcome baskets
                                          mvphawaiicondo Contributor

                                          Yes I supply a gift basket.  I try to provide a real personal experience to each of my travelers.  I don't do 3 and 4 day rentals but more like 10-30 day rentals.  We are in Hawaii.  They pay me a lot to stay in my place.  I feel it's the least I can do plus I'm there to do it.  I used to do a fruit and snack basket but I have stopped doing fruit due to over ripened fruit attracting fruit flies.  Now I do packaged food items such as local Hawaiian cookies, macadamias, chocolates, popcorn, and maybe something kids would like if there are young kids coming.  I provide a lot for my guests including a mini fridge stocked with water and since there is no water or icemaker in our fridge (old hawaii with no fridge water line) I always provide them with a new bag of ice in the freezer.  The list goes on but I do not want to veer too much from the original gift basket thread

                                          • Re: Share your story: Welcome baskets
                                            ohst8er Premier Contributor

                                            We don't provide ANYTHING.  Not because we don't want to, but because I cannot accomplish this from 12 hours away.   Fortunately, it has not affected our listing or reviews one bit.  Our location is very active, AND we are fortunate that you can get everything you need on foot or bike from our condo (car too, but it's not really necessary to have one in our location). 


                                            The only thing I would caution anyone is, check your local laws regarding bed and breakfasts.  If you are charging people to stay at your place, AND you are providing them food, you are opening yourself up having to be compliant with rules and regulations of b&b's.   For me, if I was close enough to do an amenities basket it would ONLY contain pre-packaged foods, nothing homemade, nothing that requires me to alter the product in any way in order to provide an end product to my guests.