Our Ultimate Guide – The Perfect Guest Information Book

Our Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Guest Information Book 

Owning a holiday cottage means providing your guests with all the details they need to enjoy their staycation break.

Here we give you some insider tips about how to prepare the perfect guest information pack.


A good information source, your information book will include easy-to-read, up-to-date details and it’s even better if it has a contents list.


Why Do I Need an Information Pack?

Despite living in the digital age, providing the best information you can for your holiday guests ticks all the right boxes and creates a great first impression.

The problem is, it takes time and effort to put it all together in one place.

While perhaps no-one will know your cottage and its location better than you, the trick is to let your guests get the best out of their stay.

As part of your booking process, you can encourage guests to read your digital welcome pack by creating embedded links to it as part of your welcome email, or even a downloadable, PDF version of the latest version of your welcome information.


Online or In Print?

Today, the best holiday cottage providers do both an online version and an elegant print version of their cottage information pack.

For online versions, think of TouchStay and similar apps such as Hostfully and YourWelcome. 

You can also have the welcome book as a downloadable PDF document, either on our website or as part of a welcome email. 

For the print version, avoid using a loose-leaf folder as this looks ‘below par’.

Think leather-look binding embossed with the relevant logo on the front, and you’re on the right track.


Discover more about Vista Retreats’ services here.


Essential Cottage Information to Include

You would be amazed how many guests book a cottage without much knowledge of where it’s based!

You’ve delivered on the immaculate finish of your holiday venue … Now it’s time for some icing on the cake!



Check-In and Check-Out

Every cottage or holiday homeowner knows that some guests will flout the request for a 10am checkout.

Guests don’t realise they stress this can cause, particularly as you could have new guests arriving in just a few hours.

One of the best ways of handling this is to make it clear before arrival and upon arrival that check out time IS check out time (unless you’ve arranged a late check out of course).

Similarly, a check in or arrival time, unless other arrangements have been made, is the time a guest can enter their holiday venue.

Cleaning processes can be up to the wire in terms of time, so one good tip is to purchase a sign or similar to put outside the entrance of the cottage, stating cleaning in progress. 

This sign can be removed once the cleaning is completed. 

If you show your guests around your cottage, this can help create a very welcoming start to a stay. 

If you have a keycode entry system, then ensuring the guests have the code and instructions on how to use the keycode pad is helpful. 

You could even make a video of how to use these keypad facilities.

Have a check out procedure in a bullet point format – what to do with bedding, towels, keys and rubbish.

Having a tick list of things the guest need to switch off is also helpful, 


The Rules and Regulations

While your guests agree to your terms and conditions upon booking, many of them don’t read them.

It is not unusual for a cottage owner to be made aware that extra guests ‘were invited’ causing wear and tear on the property.

A copy of the full Terms and Conditions within the welcome pack is also helpful; the guests then have very little wriggle room if they cause excessive noise, have unregistered guests, or leave the cottage in a poor state.

Also, cottage parking causes a lot of friction with neighbours if not properly explained.

Ensure your parking policy is clear and guests really can’t get away with ‘doing what they want’ if parking spaces are limited. 


Address, Contact and Codes

The first page of your welcome guide should include cottage name, address, postcode, a What3Word app reference, an emergency only telephone number of the owner or cottage company, and the cottage WiFi code.

WiFi, once considered optional, is now essential and there is nothing more frustrating for a newly arrived guest than a lack of code.

For both online and printed welcome books, directions to your cottage are also a good idea.

Be sure to provide daytime contact details of the cottage owner or cottage company in case of problems.

Your guests may also want to share their holidays on Instagram, Facebook or similar social media platforms.

Make it easy for them by providing your social media handles, any relevant tags and hashtags.


Find out more about Vista Retreats and How They Can Help You.


Why Your Cottage Is …

Called what it’s called! Sounds simple? If your cottage is called Yew Tree Cottage, a bit of history about the cottage is helpful. 

If it is a family business, then a nice paragraph and photograph of those involved ensures guests know someone working hard to help them have a lovely stay.

And we all know every property has its own characteristics.

Creaking stairs, poor WiFi in certain rooms … put a positive spin on this by making them aware of any foibles, so guests know what to expect. 


Trip Switches and Facilities and ‘How Tos’

If there is a tripped switch, do your guests know what to do?

Give clear instructions for this and for other facilities.

Washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers, televisions and other electrical goods tend to vary hugely in terms of how they operate.

Keep copies of the operation manuals and leaflets in the cottage, and a good idea is to store them near the welcome book.

If you can distill any instructions into a couple of sentences or bullet points, then this is also something that will prevent that 10pm call on a Saturday evening, made by a guest who can’t operate the dishwasher! 

One luxury your cottage guests will enjoy is hot water, whether in a refreshing shower or a bubble bath. 

Be sure to include CLEAR boiler instructions if the hot water goes off, or a number to contact if you want to avoid a customer making the issue worse. 

Similarly, avoid those annoying calls about the more luxurious aspects of your cottage, such as hot tub instructions, wood-burner safety and more.

Your  smoking policy and use of the loos (septic tanks etc) is also something that should be spelled out to guests.,

Other aspects to make clear include recycling, waste collection and even energy saving tips.


Emergency, Emergency

What would a guest do in an emergency, say if there is a water leak or a gas leak?

It is good practice to include important details such as the fuse box, water stop cock and similar information in case of emergency.

This also includes what to do in the event of fire, how the smoke alarms work and CO2 alarms if you have them. 

Other information to include should be the contact details and directions for the local doctor’s surgery, dental practice, vets and hospital.


Where to Eat

Being on holiday means enjoying food at a pub, restaurant or café.

Providing an accurate list of places to eat is a must.

Also providing details of allergen-friendly eateries is always appreciated.

State how far away each one is; is it walkable or is a driver needed?

Go for a range of budgets too, from cheap and cheerful to high end. 

A list of takeaways (and perhaps their leaflets) is helpful. 


Local Shops

Depending on your location, there might be a shop around the corner or one might be a distance away.

Some guests order a grocery delivery to arrive after check in and this can save them a lot of hassle.

Other guests like to support local shops and will want to know their whereabouts.

Local petrol stations, banks and other essential outlets such as the Post Office should also be listed.


Local Walks and Beaches

If you are in a location which boasts local walks, then a small selection of them in a welcome book can be useful.

If you can’t do this, then a frame OS map with walks marked on them might be an option.

Likewise, if you’re close to the coast, then a list of beach walks and dog friendly areas is helpful. 


Nearby Attractions

A list of paid for and free activities or attractions is always a great idea.

Family friendly, dog friendly and outdoor venues should be on the list.

Recommend the local tourism website too for additional ideas.


Public Transport

Bus routes, railway stations and taxi firms … things you take for granted if you live in the area.

Make it easier for your guests to get about by including brief details and website/app details. 


Local History

While not everyone is a history buff, you can provide a little information about the history of the location.

Perhaps it was once a roman settlement, or a Middle Ages market.

These sorts of details add to the story and background of your cottage.


Feedback forms

Providing a feedback form is helpful.

It could be you get feedback about something that simply hasn’t occurred to you.

This is separate to your visitors’ book where guests can leave their experience notes for other guests to read.


Make It Easy For Guests to Rebook! 

Offering an early bird or return visitor discount for a future stay is always helpful.


Vista Retreats 

Here at Vista Retreats, we can help you put together the ideal guest information book and help you with all aspects of managing your holiday let. 


Find out more here.