How to Become a Better Host for Your Guests this Summer?

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Photo: Hrvoje Jelavic/PIXSELL

There are those who say that Croatia sells itself and does not need strong advertising campaigns. On the plus side, it can give you peace of mind that bookings will eventually land as everyone wants a bit of Croatian summer. On the downside, this can make you overconfident and make you believe that doing the bare minimum is enough to succeed in the private hosting business. But once your guests arrive, you will surely want to do your bit to make their experience unforgettable. How? Here are some tips to be a better host for them.

1. Communicate with your guest in advance

While it is true that the current circumstances have increased the number of last-minute bookings, many tourists continue to book their accommodation weeks, or even months, in advance. I know that feeling of wanting to close your eyes, lie back and do nothing until they arrive. It’s not the right thing, though. I have also been to the other side, and as a tourist, I have felt the uneasiness and anxiety of thinking that I will arrive somewhere I’ve never been before and I do not know how to get there from the airport, or where can I store my luggage since I will arrive before check-in time.

It is best to write to your guest as soon as they make the reservation. Give them peace of mind that, even if there are months or weeks to go before their arrival, everything will be fine and there is nothing to worry about. Confirm their check-in time, ask them how they will get to the city, and offer recommendations on how to get from the airport, bus, or train station to your accommodation. Also, if there are activities or tours in your city that require reservations, let them know. Not only do I recommend you write to them to confirm all their arrival details, but it is better if you respond quickly to their questions and concerns if there are any.

2. Try to meet them in person

In the most difficult times of the pandemic, most guests requested contactless check-in alternatives, but as the situation has improved over time, we have returned to the good old days when host and guest meet in person. Nevertheless, I keep walking through the streets of Diocletian’s Palace and I see newcomers, lost, carrying their suitcases from one place to another, under the scorching heat, unable to find their accommodation. This happens very often in the old towns of Croatian coastal cities, and most owners prefer to provide the address and a password to enter the accommodation. While that can be beneficial for owners, in many cases it means getting off on the wrong foot and surely affects their guests’ first impressions.

If possible, arrange with them a time and place to meet and, from there, show them the way to your accommodation. They will value that first gesture and it will also help them memorize the easiest way to locate their apartment. After a heavy trip, you will also want to help them with their bags, since you know the city well and you know that there are stairs and narrow alleys everywhere. Take the opportunity to talk to them, make them feel that they can trust you for anything, and at the same time give them a brief tour of the city, telling them a little about the history of the place. 

3. Get to know your guests

If you have the privilege of meeting your guests in person, I highly recommended that you take the opportunity to talk with them (respecting their privacy, of course). You can ask them what they plan to do during their stay and what kind of activities they want to do. Based on this, you will know what recommendations to give them. Make sure you know who you are giving tips to, as a solo traveler will not be the same as a couple or a family of five. For the solo traveler, you may want to recommend bars to meet people, the best romantic spots for the couple, and for the family of five a fun tour that they can equally enjoy together.

Also, knowing your guests well will help you filter your restaurant recommendations, since some of them may be vegan or have a specific diet. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that will help you improve the experience of your guests during their stay.

4. Give them as many recommendations as possible

How to get to your accommodation or good restaurants around the city are a good starting point, but it doesn’t hurt to go a little further and share more of your recommendations, especially in a country like Croatia where every city has so much to offer. Some ideas of recommendations that you can give them are:

  • Best tours in the city and surroundings
  • Islands to visit for a full day
  • How to get to the islands
  • Souvenirs to take home
  • Supermarkets nearby to buy groceries
  • Nearby parking lots
  • Nice beaches without crowds
  • Best ice cream shops
  • How to use public transport
  • What to do in case of emergency

5. Always do “something else”

At the end of the day, what appears on your website or on your Booking or Airbnb profile is what you offer, and it should be enough for guests to see that everything is in order for them to give you a good rating and review once their stay is over. However, there is no better feeling than knowing that, in cities where there are many apartments just like yours, you stood out as a host by improving the experience of your guests. How did you do it? Always offering something more. It doesn’t have to be an expensive bottle of wine or paying them for lunch, but rather meaningful details. For example, leave some bottles of water in their fridge, help them carry their bags, suggest a particular dish at a restaurant, or even offer (if possible) a late check-out if their flight is in the afternoon.

It may not make you richer, but it may be the case that your guests are able to appreciate those nice gestures and that, in addition to giving you a good rating or review, they also feel encouraged to recommend your accommodation to family or friends, or even come back next summer!

For more, check out our business section.

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