If you look beneath the surface of clean sheets and throw pillows, the most influential short-term rental (STR) hosts not only meet guests' standards for cleanliness and comfort but are also active members of their local community. As the primary link between their guests and the local area, hosts can play an important role in championing small businesses through the amenities, services, and activities they choose to recommend to guests. 

With COVID-19 taking a toll on many small businesses, there’s no better time to support the vibrant and diverse local makers, tour operators, and service providers in your destination. And your guests are craving these connections, too. According to a recent survey, the average American plans to spend nearly $100 a week at local businesses post-COVID-19, up 16% vs. before the pandemic—in the hopes of boosting local economies.

Whether you’re curating homemade treats from your favorite local bakery or partnering with a nearby winery to offer private tastings for your guests, there are many ways to integrate local businesses into the guest experience. With the ever-changing needs of hosts and travelers in mind, we’ve rounded up five ways to support local businesses at your vacation rental. 

 

Give your in-house amenities a local upgrade

Nothing elevates a snack platter like sourcing all the ingredients from a farmer’s market. Just ask host Diana of Rockridge Casita, who turned to Market Hall, a gourmet food shop just a few miles away, to create a scrumptious cheese platter that guests can order during their stay. In anticipation of special occasions celebrated privately instead of in a crowded public space, Diana also partnered with The Borrowed Garden, a micro flower farm in the neighborhood, to offer guests custom-designed floral arrangements.

Whether or not you offer premium add-on’s, buying from independent companies can strengthen your brand and make your operations more sustainable. When restocking amenities like soap, towels, linens, think about whether you can source locally.

This is a small but powerful way to make your vacation rental feel personalized and show love to the makers in your community.

Create a neighborhood guide

More than ever, guests are turning to their hosts to discover what’s open and operational during their stay. Printed guidebooks can be difficult to sanitize between uses and sending recommendations by direct message or email can lead to a lot of back and forth as hosts spend time answering follow-up questions about hours and prices. To make this process even more efficient, more hosts are opting to create digital guides that they can share with guests in advance of their stay. 

Whether your want to share your go-to mom-and-pop diner, a scenic hike, or an off-the-beaten-path attraction, a neighborhood guide with your personal expert tips can be an effective way to share the hidden wonders of your local area. In addition to using ATLIST’s free neighborhood guide tool, we’ve seen hosts create digital guidebooks through Airbnb, TouchStay, and Google MyMaps, among other tools.

The Treehouse Utah, a tranquil cabin near Salt Lake City, has added a few local recommendations to their ATLIST guest experience page including a local gym, a distillery that comes with breathtaking views, and a cozy neighborhood cafe for sipping hot cocoa. Meanwhile, The Dusty Rose in St. Marys, Georgia uses their page to recommend singing karaoke with locals at Seagle's Bar and sampling freshly caught fish on the patio of Fulford's, a locally owned and operated seafood restaurant. Not only are neighborhood guides a great way to keep guests abreast of COVID-19-related changes but it’s also a meaningful way for hosts to impact the guest experience beyond the walls of their vacation rental. 

Share on social 

Using your social media platform to showcase local and sustainable makers doesn’t just help other brands, it also elevates yours.  By posting about locally sourced items in your vacation rental—from organic coffee beans to hand-dipped candles—you can engage your audience and help your followers support businesses in your area, even if they aren’t able to travel right now.

 

Partner with experience providers

Have a favorite tour operator? These days, more hosts are collaborating with their preferred vendors to offer guests memorable private experiences. Team up with a masseuse who can offer in-house spa treatments or find a trained chef who can whip up delicious dishes for your guests’ intimate dinner party. With ATLIST, hosts can onboard their vendors and use the platform to power automated scheduling, payments, and commission splits, making the process of working with your favorite experience providers even more seamless. 

Case in point: The Nene Nest has partnered with Kipu Ranch Adventures to offer e-mountain bike tours and ATV off-roading experiences to their guests. Through ATLIST’s FareHarbor integration, guests can choose the date and time that works for them while still checking out on their vacation rental's secure and branded portal.


Team up with service providers

Whether you manage your vacation rental remotely or just need some extra help offering premium services and items to your guests, outsourcing the heavy lifting of operations and logistics to professionals can free up your time and ensure your guests are in good hands. Local deliveries tend to be faster and have a lighter carbon footprint, and working with small businesses often means you’ll get personalized customer service.

Rather than trying to do it all themselves, hosts are partnering with niche service providers like The Grazeful Platter, which specializes in creating charcuterie boards, or the Scottsdale Cabana Boys, a startup in Arizona that hosts fun pool parties for bachelorette trips and group getaways.  

 

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how vital local businesses are to our communities and our shared experience. For hosts, there are tangible and branding benefits to collaborating with local businesses.

All of this is felt by your guests when they walk into your vacation rental and discover an intentionally curated experience that highlights the treasures of your local area. 

Curious about how you can collaborate with ATLIST to support local businesses on your guest experience webpage?  Contact us to book a one-on-one meeting with a member of our team.