Whether it’s the space, the privacy, or the amenities that drew them, your guests are staying at your vacation rental because they’re looking for something different. Why not celebrate this decision the moment they walk through the door and wow them with a welcome basket?
One part practical and another part thoughtfulness — with a lot of fun mixed in — a welcome basket offers a chance to leave not just a personal touch on their visit, but to shape an impression that will last long after they go home.
The basic welcome basket
- A personal welcome note: Leave a personal note for your guests; email it to the person placing the package, if needed.
- Samples of local products: Locally-produced items like soaps, candles or chocolates can make a great addition to a package. (This offers you a great opportunity to partner with other local businesses — see related information below).
- Incentives and gifts: You may be able to arrange with local businesses to provide gift certificates for complimentary samples: Wineries and breweries often offer tastings, for example, or a restaurant may offer an appetizer. Look for small gifts your guests can enjoy free of charge; leave discount coupons with other local information (i.e. maps) that you provide.
- Something that subtly promotes your business: This may take a bit of creativity, but is there something you can include that also helps market your property? For example, you could print postcards using photos you’ve taken in the area, with your vacation rental name noted on the back; you could even create your own cards and use those for your personal welcome notes.
- A little snack: Bottled water is a standard item in a lot of gift baskets, but is there anything you can include that has a local spin on it? Perhaps a beverage made somewhere nearby, or individual sugar cookies in the shape of your state.
- Something location-appropriate: In addition to locally-sourced products and gifts, there may be other location-appropriate things you can include: Flip flops, golf balls, gourmet hot chocolate, seashells.
Things to add for special occasions
Based on your correspondence you may know your guests are celebrating something special; if not, you can always ask. Building on the basic basket, or swapping items for something more specific, here are a few ideas.
A little bit of romance — weddings, honeymoons, anniversaries
- Congratulatory card: Leave your personal note in a card that celebrates their special occasion.
- Fresh-cut flowers
- A bottle of wine or sparkling wine
- “Cake in a jar”: The “recipe in a jar” idea is an easy gift for vacation rental guests who have a kitchen on-hand. Layer the dry ingredients in a jar, leaving just the wet ingredients (eggs, milk, etc.) to be added here’s an example for Crazy Cake Mix In A Jar. Another idea is to include a gift certificate for a local bakery.
- Birthday candles
- Birthday hats or noisemakers
Something for the kids
- Games or toys: Some location-specific ideas include inflatable water toys, a small shovel and bucket, or a DIY snowman-making kit.
- Activity book: Sometimes, tourism organizations create activity books for children about local attractions or local wildlife.
- Bird seed, or similar food that might be appropriate to attract local wildlife.
- “Cookies in a jar”: Another take on the pe“recipe in a jar” idea is the gift of cookies, like this Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix In A Jar.
- Create a treasure hunt or travel bingo game: Give little explorers something to do with either treasure hunt (i.e. a list of common objects they can look for in and around your property) or a travel bingo game (i.e. a bingo sheet with items they cross off as they tour around the area).
Managing your time and expenses
Putting together a good welcome basket is more about making an emotional connection than spending a bunch of money. With a little creativity, you can put together something remarkable for a relatively small cost. For example:
- Can you purchase items in bulk?
- Can you purchase items at a discount (i.e. dollar store)
- Can you barter with another local business for products or services?
- Can you prepare things yourself?
Some items, as noted, offer an opportunity to partner with and support other local businesses. Your local Chamber of Commerce or tourist agency may also have items available for free or at minimal cost.
Also, with a few exceptions — flowers, for example — try to use things that have a longer shelf life. This saves you from running around all the time to refresh your supplies, and there’s always the chance these items will go home with your guests; it needs to be able to survive the trip.