How to use Hostfully to create a Kickass Airbnb Guidebook

The New CollectionWhat is Hostfully?  Simply put, Hostfully is an online, electronic guidebook for your Airbnb property that you can send to guests ahead of time.  It’s a simple link that you message your guests, and then they have your guidebook information at their fingertips.

How is an electronic guidebook better for Airbnb hosts? One of the best reasons to get an electronic guidebook is that it cuts down on unnecessary messaging both before and during their stay.  No more questions about restaurant recommendations or the closest grocery store, and no more guests asking about parking information three months in advance…you send them the guidebook ahead of time, and it answers all their trip related questions! You can include both pictures and videos, so guests see exactly how to turn on the TV and dishwasher without having to message you at midnight.  Although this information goes unread in my Airbnb house manual, for some reason guests will actually read it on Hostfully.

It is also extremely affordable…as in FREE! Your first guidebook is no charge, and Airbnb Babes readers can get two months of Power Host or Prime for free – which is an AWESOME perk for hosts with multiple listings.  Just go to Hostfully.com and enter AirbnbBabes into the coupon code to receive your special offer  🙂

Here is what the Hostfully guidebook looks like to a guest:

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On the left, the guest will see all of your check in details, including directions, wifi, and house information.  All of the recommendations are sorted into categories and displayed on the map, along with a pin for your property.

Ready to make a Hostfully guidebook for your property?  The interface of this guidebook software is extremely user friendly, so just follow these 6 steps:

  1. Create a Guidebook
  2. Arrival and Departure Cards
  3. House Information
  4. Recommendations
  5. Host Introduction and Branding
  6. Review, Publish, and Share with your Guests

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Here we go…

1. Create a guidebook

Before you can make pages, you need to make the guidebook.  On the first page, click “guidebooks”.

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From there, you will see this screen:

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This will be displayed on the map with all of your recommendations, so guests find it easiest if you use an exterior picture to differentiate it from other places on the map.

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Once you verify that the address matches the map, hit save and continue.  Now you are ready to make the “cards”, or the pages of the guidebook.

2.  Arrive and Departure Cards

One of my favorite parts about Hostfully is that they walk you through the process.  You don’t have to reinvent the wheel…they have a guidebook outline already prepared to ensure you don’t leave anything out.

See below:

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Click the plus sign next to the card, and it will take you to a different screen where you create that card (page).  This is under the check in card:

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You can also add additional notes on how to enter the property, and pictures.  Again, really, really awesome because the folks at Hostfully have thought of everything. At the end of the card, you can click which guidebook you want the card to appear in.

The rest of the arrival cards are equally intuitive and thorough. You don’t have to stress – just follow the template!

Pro-Tip: in the direction card, include a referral link to your Uber or Lyft account.  They save money on their first ride to your house, and you will get an affiliate commission.

The information on the Hostfully site is not indexed by Google, so it won’t appear in any search engines.  Hostfully is working to make their site even more secure, but they don’t recommend sharing any extremely personal information (like lockbox codes).

3. House Information

***One thing I do wish Hostfully included is a template for house rules and information.  It would be helpful for new hosts to know what is generally included in these cards.  For example, a selection of common house rules and comment box for you to add your own, or frequently asked guest questions.  They are also lacking a neighborhood card.  Detailed information about the immediate neighborhood around your listing helps your location score – guests don’t know what an awesome neighborhood they are in unless you tell them where to go!

I include the following cards in my house information:

  1. House rules
  2. Useful tips (To see what I wrote for house rules and useful tips, scroll down to the end of the article)
  3. Neighborhood (for more about what to include in the neighborhood section, check out How to Make a Kickass Airbnb Guidebook).  Like I mentioned above, I highly recommend adding a neighborhood card to highlight what is in walking distance of your Airbnb.  Location is a star rating factor, and the more guests know about your location, the higher your rating will be.  Think about information you need when traveling, and not necessarily the exciting stuff…where’s the closest pharmacy? Grocery store? Jogging trail? Neighborhood dive bar? How do guests get into and out of the main tourist areas?
  4. FAQ: what do guests struggle with at the property? Instead of having to answer messages or go over and show them, you can add video or photos.  Some examples of common guest questions are: how to use the television, dishwasher, manual garage door, sleeper sofa, etc.
  5. Added Value: lowering your price is not the only way to increase your value rating.  Guests appreciate insider knowledge and trip advice.  Here, you can create sample itineraries (romantic weekend, family time, girls’ night out, nature loving, foodie, etc).  You can explain how guests can receive local business discounts through your partnership.  Include seasonal suggestions.  Add links to local tourism websites and Facebook pages.
  6. Plug your up sell: increase your revenue by highlighting any additional services you provide (artwork for sale, airport pick ups/drop offs, souvenir baskets,…for more ideas on how to up sell your Airbnb, check out this article)

For most of these cards, an icon card will be sufficient.  For instructional cards, use of a video and/or picture would be really helpful to guests.

4.  Recommendations

This is where you get to really show off your knowledge of the city! It’s a great excuse to visit your favorite local businesses…after all, you’ve got to double check that the happy hour specials are as great as you remember 😉

***I do wish you could add more details on the first section of recommendation card, and I would like to be able to add more than one picture.   It would also be helpful for the recommendations to have multiple tags, like kid friendly, family friendly, date night, girl’s night out, vegan/vegetarian, outdoor, etc.  Then guests could search for activities that fit their specific needs.

That being said, Hostfully has some really cool features for their recommendations cards.  They saved me a LOT of time.

You can enter the name of your favorite restaurant, and the basic information (address, phone number, and website) will automatically pop up for you.

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Then, Hostfully will supply you with pictures of the restaurant. !!!

Definitely my favorite feature of this electronic guidebook.  Finding or taking pictures for each individual recommendation was the most time consuming aspect of creating my guidebook, so the fact that Hostfully does this automatically…well, it seals the deal for me!

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You then have a short space to put the main idea of the restaurant, and a second longer space where you can include more information.  The first space should have the highlights, or why you would recommend a guest go there.  The second space should give a better idea of the business.

To make your guidebook really stand out, include those details that only “locals” know.  Why would you take your friends from out of town to this place? Some examples of this insider information could be: happy hour times, where to find free parking, your personal favorite dish/drink, a secret about the establishment, what kid-friendly activities they have, how much it costs, student nights and other discounts, something interesting about the place, or if it is open late night.

Obviously, you probably don’t know all of this information about business you recommend, but it is super easy crowd source this information using the business’s Facebook Page and Yelp reviews.

You only have to input the recommendation information once, and you can reuse the cards across all your guidebooks* – saving even more time!

*Multiple guidebooks are only available with the prime version – get 2 months free by using coupon code AirbnbBabes at checkout 

5. Host Introduction and Branding

Not many hosts think to add this kind of page to their guidebook on their own.  Many hosts assume it’s not that important, or the guests will have already looked at their Airbnb profile.

However, I tell my clients to ALWAYS include an “About Me” section, complete with pictures.

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Why do I tell my Airbnb hosting clients to add this important section to their guidebook?

Because learning about the host makes a guest feel connected to you and see you as a real person.  While it’s easy to be upset at a big, faceless hotel chain, it is much more difficult to leave a bad review for a real person that they have a connection with.

Include a welcome message about yourself, your occupation, travel goals, hosting experience, the favorite parts of your city, what you like to do for fun, pictures of your family and pets…really any personal details that you think your target audiences would connect with.  The goal of this section is to give your business a face, and personalize yourself as a host.  You want your guests to like you, even if they never meet you!

This section is a great place for additional marketing.  Provide guests with your social media name and private website, and encourage them to sign up for your email newsletter.  Include information about any experiences you host or additional services you offer.

6. Review, Publish, and Share with your Guests

After you have entered everything, preview the guidebook and make sure everything looks right. Have a friend or family member look everything over for typos or inaccurate information.

Share your Hostfully link in your “Thanks for booking” saved message template. Some guests haven’t used Hostfully before, so we include a few words about what to expect:

” Thanks for booking with us! To help you plan your trip, we have designed a personalized guidebook experience with all the information you need for your stay.  We have included information about: check-in and check-out procedures, local restaurant and activity recommendations, how to use our amenities, and additional transportation instructions.  We hope it answers all of your questions! Please check it out at (website)”

Overall Impression and Review of Hostfully

I have made my own guidebooks from scratch for years, and have always received a ton compliments from guests.  However, they took forever to make, and anytime a restaurant went out of business I had to change the whole layout, spending time and money to reprint.

What makes an electronic guidebook for your Airbnb so attractive is that you can give guests the url ahead of time.  This cuts down on the questions you receive, without skimping on the personalized experience.  Looking back, I could have sent the guidebook via an email attachment, but that sounds like a lot of unnecessary effort – and I’m not sure many guests would have opened it.   Plus, Airbnb uses a routing service for their emails, so you don’t even have the advantage of getting a real email from the guests.

And if you can’t part with an old school 3-ring binder guidebook, you can still print out your Hostfully electronic guidebook! We have the printed version available on our coffee table for guests, in addition to the electronic version sent ahead of time – the best of both worlds.

Although there are some things I wish Hostfully would add to their cards, these are very minor details.  Overall, I am very happy with the service Hostfully provides, and recommend it to all of my hosting clients! It is a beautiful, user-friendly, customized guidebook experience that guests love.  I can honestly say that using Hostfully has increased my guest satisfaction and overall reviews, and has set me apart from other Airbnb hosts in my area…all while making my life easier.

But don’t just take my word for it…check out these guest reviews!

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We have over 400 reviews, and at least half of them mention our guidebook.  Do you have any additional tips on building a guidebook for guests? Comment below!

Don’t forget to sign up for the AirbnbBabes 9-Day Superhost Challenge! If you found value in the information provided here and in our other blog posts, you understand that we are all about strategic, actionable information that directly impacts your business (no fluff). Head on over to AirbnbBabes.thinkific.com to sign up today, before our special offer expires!

 

**BONUS sections:

Here is what I include in our house rules and useful tips:

House Rules

Please leave all spaces as you found them: clean and put away dishes

Clean up after pets if applicable. Pets are not allowed on beds.

No smoking or vaping inside the house.

No illegal drug use or underage drinking allowed.

Keep food in the kitchen and dining areas.

Respect our neighbors by limiting noise between 11 pm and 7 am.

Keep doors and windows locked when you leave the property

Do not park in the driveway, as it is shared with our neighbors.

**The tub has been recently refinished so please be gentle! Don’t place things with sharp edges in the tub, or leave bottles on the edge of tub for an extended period of time, or use any cleaners on the tub.

Useful Tips

Extra toilet paper is located in the front hall closet, along with a vacuum and broom/dust pan if they are needed.

Paper towels, cleaning spray and garbage bags are located under the kitchen sink.

Full garbage bags can be placed in the garbage cans outside on the right side of the house

Towels are located in hallway closet

Extra toiletries are located in bathroom closet

Additional pillows and linens can be found in the bedroom closets

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