We are new at this ourselves, but we have decided that at a minimum the following items should always be stocked in the house (not necessarily enough for an entire stay but in the house to get guests started):
- basic spices such as salt, pepper, sugar but in actual fact we have many more in the pantry
- coffee, tea, creamer
- dishwasher powder and dish liquid
- laundry detergent, stain remover, dryer sheets
- paper products including toilet paper, paper towels and tissues
- hand soaps, shampoo, conditioner
There are always other things in the pantry that we or others have left (pasta sauce, pasta, canned goods such as tuna or garbanzos). They are freely available for everyone to use.
I think it is important that your advertising and communications with guests are specific, so that there aren't surprises when folks arrive.
I agree with you about providing basic pantry items and paper goods. Most owners provide at least a starter set of soaps and shampoos, as well. It depends on your customer base - Europeans are used to having very little in the way of amenities, and it is not uncommon for a traveller to have to bring his own linens, along with everything else.
Many people are turned off by left-over food items that have been opened - pasta, rice, etc, unless you store them in attractive containers. Anything that has been opened and left in fridge or freezer should be tossed.
It's nice to be able to make a cup of coffee and relax a bit, instead of having to rush to the store right off the bat. This is especially important for foreign travellers who may not speak the language, or if you are in a rural district. It is not expensive to leave a little something for your guests to eat and drink, and it's a nice gesture that will leave a good memory. Much nicer than what they would think of you because you only left half a roll of tissue in the house!
One last thing, if you provide your preferred brands of cleaning products, you can save yourself a lot of heartache - and repair bills...
Have been doing this for about 7 years now. We keep the basics - condiments in the refrig, spices, S/P, sugar, etc., but that's about it. When we were in London, the owners of our condo did some preliminary shopping for us, but we had to pay for the start up supplies. As far as cleaning, again just the basics - Windex, cleanser, cleaning wipes. The only things we offer are a start up of TP, paper towels and some liquid soap at the bathroom sinks. I think that we're to provide a nice vacation home, and not necessarily everything a guest would want. We do find that as guests come and go, they leave some items, so there are always extras for the next guests to take advantage of...
Thank you all for your helpful suggestions!
In fact I agree with you that some basic items should be left in the property for a good first impression.
Some guests I had expected that items like toilet paper or products for dishwasher or washing machine etc. should be in a supply for the whole rental period. But in my opinion that is not due!
I leave 2 rolls of toilet paper in each bathroom. I leave 1 large roll of paper towels in kitchen. I leave garbage bags for the kitchen container, 2 sizes of ziplocks so guests can take their opened food with them (cuts down on what I have to throw out), dishwashing detergent, and laundry detergent. What the guests don't use, the housekeeper will use, so I don't dole out the laundry detergent. I use coupons, I buy in bulk, and I buy on sale, and I believe that these little amenities are what will keep a guest coming back. Just today I had my FIRST repeat guest so I think I'm doing something right!
Hi Prestons Thicket! Congrats on your repeat guests!! That is very exciting and an endorsement of the value of your home and the guest experience.
I have recently started adding a couple of other things for when guests arrive: microwave packets of caramel corn and some small wrapped chocolates (Ghirardelli, etc). I have gotten these items on sale at Target, and I like them, so why not have little treats for when guests arrive? (And if they don't eat them, more for me!).
We recently had a couple out for the wife's birthday, and I provided chilled champagne, gourmet chocolate bars, a gift for her (book about Palm Springs). They had a wonderful time, and the wife wants to return with girlfriends for a getaway.
I think that showing that you care about people goes a long way.
I think the items and owner provides are determined by the rental experience you wish your guests to have.
For our property we provide basic condiments including a cabinet of spices, sauces (we're an American summer rental, so it's catsup, mustard, barbecue and worcestershire sauces, vinegars, etc.), paper towels, toilet paper, facial tissue, dishwasher detergent, kitchen soap, and laundry detergent. We also provide a range of cleaning supplies - after all, we want our guests to be able to take care of the spilt red wine or the oil residue on the cook top.
Many rentals provide coffee, we do not since everyone has a different palate. We do provide a drip coffee maker, stove top espresso pot, and a coffee grinder.
We provide sufficient supplies for the entire stay for the comfort of our guests.
I provide these items because I have found in my own travels, staying at rental properties, that it is horribly inconvenient not to have all of these basics easily available. I do find that European rentals are stocked in a more basic manner than many American rentals, but I have found it possible to arrange for items to be provided when requested.
I've experienced the incovenience of having to buy an extensive list of basics to cook for my family in a rental kitchen. It's time consuming and expensive for the individual that has to make the purchase. Grocery shopping is not on my list of vaction activities - I like to keep it to a minimum . . . . It can be difficult to pack up your purchases for anything more than a short drive home. I left the items I purchased at the rental and assume they were happily used by the guests that followed. Don't overlook that this can be a very expensive purchase for a guest in a resort or vacation community.
Again, it comes down to what you want your guests to experience. I find that having a full range of cooking and household basics is greatly appreciated by my guests. I do advertise these amenities and draw many positive responses from potential guests.
We provide all paper goods and cleaning supplies and bath soap as our guests now expect that. (This is a change from when we first vacationed there and rented a house 15-20 years ago. Then we expected to buy everything ourselves.) We don't usually provide any personal grooming products as guests prefer to bring their own.
As to any food or coffee, I think it depends on where your rental is and how easy it would be for the guests to shop. It's a nice touch to leave coffee and tea for the first morning, but if our guests want us to shop for them, there is a charge. Almost all stop at a market on the way to our house.
I post on our web site what we supply, mostly so that our one to two week guests don't have to pack so much. Our renters have always driven. The nearest major airport is about 2 hrs away. We make sure there is some TP in every bathroom and one roll of paper towels in the kitchen. Shopping is convenient on the Outer Banks.
We don't supply linens. They are available to rent from our cleaning company, but few renters bother with that. I do leave clean bed linens and towels for renters if we plan to be there the week afterwards when I can wash them.
We don't supply paper products for the week, just enough to get them through a day or two until they go shopping.
Because we like to spend time at the cottage, our kitchen is equipped with the same high quality equipment that I have at home, and knives are kept SHARP. I keep supplies of various flours, rice, grits, corn meal in large glass cannisters for the guests and a complete supply of herbs and spices purchased fresh each spring along with a large selection of condiments.
I have been doing my own property management for 2 years now and my house is located 4 miles from a resort community so I have alot of competition with the houses that are right on the lake. To counter this, I have to work hard to offer extras. I also offer everything that marteenimama offers (above) but I will leave fresh eggs, unwrapped butter, a new loaf of bread, box(es) of unopened cereal, hot chocolate packets, pancake mix/syrup in the pantry and I promote this on my listing. I also have a coffee bar with a single-serve coffee machine + the specialty coffees in a single serve, an espresso machine, a coffee bean grinder and a regular Mr. Coffee. I leave Folgers or Maxwell house in a large tub in the frig.
Upon arrival, the guest will have a Welcome Basket with something homemade (I didn't say I made it; but maybe something from the Farmer's Market), a complimentary bottle of wine, or a 1 lb. bag of gourmet coffee. I also leave a mascot token and a postcard of the cabin in this basket with a personal note. I leave a survey with 5 questions in this basket.
My guests love this. The housekeeper knows to throw out all the opened items after a guest leaves, but the other items are not expensive, and as I sit here typing this, I am pumping shampoo from Costco into small vials and making my own labels so guests will have custom toiletries with my logo and website on them.