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What makes a great vacation rental host? Travelers reveal all

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Our 2023 travel trends survey results are in. They're packed with useful pointers for what travelers say makes a host great.

In an ever-growing vacation rental market, it's important for property owners to showcase their first-rate hosting skills. In a recent survey*, we asked 42,513 respondents across 33 markets “what can a host do to make your stay special?”

The more special the stay, the more guests will come back. Plus, great hosting leads to great reviews. So what do these travelers really think makes for a great hosting experience? And what can property owners do to make their offerings stand out? Let’s take a closer look.  

1. Provide your guests with travel tips

It can often feel strange arriving in an unfamiliar place. Guests want to feel comfortable and in-the-know. It’s no surprise that “providing tips on the local area and events” tops our poll of global travelers. 

When it comes to hosting, more than half (55%) of all respondents worldwide say they want tips from their hosts on where to go and what to do. European travelers were among the most likely to cite this as a great hosting skill, especially those from Croatia, Belgium, and France. This might include highlighting under-the-radar hotspots, pointing out tourist traps, or providing a list of cultural events. 

More food for thought? Some 51% of guests appreciate restaurant tips. Let’s say you’re always impressed by your local bistro. Or you know the go-to place for eggs benedict. Maybe the best coffee house in town is a two-minute walk away. Tell your guests. Travelers from Sweden, Switzerland, and Croatia in particular say that such recommendations boost a host’s greatness.

2. Add personal touches 

A warm welcome and personal interactions were highlighted by 39% of those surveyed. A friendly hello and asking guests how their trip was, or if they have any special plans upon arrival, goes down well. 

When it comes to personalized items, 23% of those surveyed thought it made for a great host. Still, 44% of those from South Korea say they like a personal flourish – a handwritten note or personal greeting is certainly something to consider.

Also consider “acknowledging special occasions.” Do you have guests celebrating a particular milestone – an anniversary, for example? Feel free to offer a card or a bouquet of flowers. Guests from India (46%), Singapore (40%), and Japan (37%) appreciated this in particular. 

3. Impress guests with complimentary gifts and services

31% of all travelers thought that offering a complimentary item helped make a great host. Australian (42%) and Japanese guests (40%) in particular felt this was a nice touch. 

Being on hand to provide “additional cleaning” services was especially attractive for travelers from Latin America (46%), followed closely by those from Asia (43%).

And then there are those small yet meaningful gestures that can wow guests. Some 46% of all travelers thought that “offering some amenities free of charge” helps make a host stand out. This is as true for Gen X (47%) as it is for millennials (47%). 

Sprinkling in some thoughtful touches takes a four-star review to a shining five stars – and helps build customer loyalty. Consider providing fancy toiletries, a universal phone charger, or a handful of gripping novels to make your guests feel at home. For guests arriving late at night, consider a small snack basket, along with tea and coffee for the morning. Adding fresh flowers, magazines, or even Netflix might boost ratings from “great” to, well, really great.

*Research was commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of adults who’d taken a trip in the last 12 months and planned to take a trip in 2023. The sample comprised 42,513 respondents across 33 markets. Respondents completed an online survey in January or February 2023. 
 

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Takeaway
  • 55% of global travelers felt providing tips on the local area helped make for a great host
  • Providing tips on local restaurants was a hit with 51% of travelers surveyed
  • 46% of respondents felt offering some amenities free of charge boosted a host’s greatness
  • A warm welcome and personal interactions are important to 39% of guests
  • 33% of travelers worldwide liked the idea of additional cleaning during their stay