Let’s be honest: COVID-19 has significantly impacted how prospective guests interact and assess hotels and vacation rentals. For better or worse, there are a few new questions on travelers’ minds before they book their accommodations: What parks and restaurants are open? Which activity providers are operational? And will it be safe?
For answers, guests aren’t turning to outdated guidebooks or articles—they’re relying on their hosts to provide them with up-to-date information before and during their stay. While most properties have added text messaging to their arsenal of digital tools, 83% of guests say their top choice for discovering activity recommendations is by browsing a webpage on their own phone or computer.
We know providing guests with relevant local recommendations is essential, but how are hotels creating and delivering resources to their guests in light of COVID-19? We spoke with a handful of B&B owners, innkeepers, and vacation rental hosts in the United States to find out how they’re making their guests feel more comfortable and safe under their roof, while also delivering personalized and up-to-date destination tips.
Innkeepers are updating their traditional “welcome books”
At the Rabbit Hill Inn in Vermont, Innkeeper Leslie Mulcahy has always offered guests personalized service before and during their stay. However, she feels that it has become even more valuable during this challenging time, as guests need the help of their hosts to navigate safe travel experiences off-property.
Due to COVID restrictions, Leslie and the team at Rabbit Hill Inn have replaced the physical welcome books in the guest rooms with a digital version created using Touch Stay. While the digital welcome book is not part of their website (guests can access it by downloading it onto their phones or visiting an external link), it emulates the look and feel of a traditional welcome book that you would typically find at a family-run inn. Touch Stay starts at $99 per year but a few inn and B&B associations are currently offering it to their members as a membership benefit.
In addition, Leslie says, she is providing personalized concierge services to all guests to “ensure that their visit is filled with fun-filled days, and no disappointing surprises or COVID closures along the way. Reaching out prior to arrival gives guests an opportunity to share their activity interests and desires before checking in and knowing a little more about them gives us a chance to suggest hidden gems around the area that are still accessible during COVID—hikes, swimming holes, biking trails, etc.”
At Windward House, an eight-room bed-and-breakfast in Camden, Maine, hosts Matt and Dan have prioritized incorporating technology from day 1. Along with tinkering in the kitchen to perfect their New Jersey-style pork rolls, made-to-order-breakfasts, and soon-to-be-released blueberry ice-cream, Matt’s IT knowledge has empowered him to embrace new technologies like Google MyMaps.
“We get a lot of questions from guests and they’ll even call when they’re out and ask us for recommendations. They have paper maps in town but they become outdated quickly, so by creating our own maps, we can share updated information about everything from the farmer’s market to our favorite hiking trails and restaurants,” says hosts Matt and Dan of Windward House.
For properties interested in providing their guests with a modern and sleek digital neighborhood guide that can be added or embedded into their website, ATLIST offers a fully customizable solution.
Through a simple step-by-step process, hosts and hoteliers can create beautiful and highly visual neighborhood guides, complete with high-quality photos, personal tips, and custom maps, within minutes. Each guide can be organized into sub-sections such as “Food & Drink”, “Outdoor Adventures”, and “Arts & Culture” for easy viewing on one central, branded page.
With COVID-19 in mind, ATLIST has added a “COVID changes” field, where hosts can describe any updates to the location, hours, experience, or service due to social distancing guidelines.
“We chose ATLIST to create our neighborhood guides because the platform feels the most modern and visual. It fits our brand and our aesthetic better than the other tools out there. It’s free to use and really easy to set up, plus their customer service team is really responsive,” says Daly Sabirin, CEO of Sabda Vacation Rental Management.
As a bonus for busy hosts, ATLIST maps link directly to Google Places, allowing guests to get instant directions from wherever they are, even if they’re viewing the guide on their mobile phone while they’re out and about.
To learn more about ATLIST neighborhood guides, read more here. Start creating your neighborhood guide for free, sign up here or book a one-on-one meeting with a member of our team.