Travel Technology

Creating an online home guide for your guests

If you’ve set up a home exchange or you are going to rent out your home on a platform like AirBnb you need to provide guests with some basic information about your house. Maybe this is only the wifi password and where to find clean towels. I like to err on the side of too much information and so I have a seven page guide. It has useful info organized by room (i.e. where to find supplies to make coffee in the kitchen) as well as local places of interest and fun day trips. I print this out to leave for each guest, but also email them relevant parts in advance. Paper is really old school, but it’s worked ok so far.

If you prefer, you can do this in a digital fashion with some apps that help organize your information. Back in 2015 I wrote about Coral, a tool you can use to share home information with guests. But they were in pre-beta so I couldn’t try out the tool. I just checked back and Coral is open for use. Coral is targeting Airbnb hosts, but it’s set up to work with any sort of home sharing. You can just share a link with people once they have booked  your home. And the guidebook automatically locks guests out of your listing after the check-out date.

The Coral interface is easy to use, so I created a listing and copied over the relevant information from my guide. For the most part they were looking for the same info I have in my document. I will need to enter each local attraction individually so that they can be found on the map. That’s going to take me some time. The rest was simple copy and paste. And overall the organization of the guest guide is logical.  I really like that I can generate a link to send to people and set an expiration date on it. And I can generate a nice looking pdf from my guide if my guests prefer paper.

The Coral tool is free to use. I asked them how they plan to make money and got this response: “…any functionality available today will be available for free forever. We will be announcing a subscription for premium features in the future, but this will not affect the free version of the product.” I really like the free version. I will be transitioning my guidebook to Coral for use by our next guests.

If you use the Guest to Guest home exchange network, they recently released a mobile app called HappyGuest that helps you share home information with your guests. However, in the first version of the release it has some limitations. First, it only works on mobile and so I’d have to enter all the information in my 7 page home guide manually into my phone. I need some sort of copy and paste interface that will make this transition easy. Also, because I belong to more than one home exchange network, I’m not likely to use a tool that only works for one of them. I look forward to future advances with the Guest to Guest app. If they open it up for use with any guests from any platform it could be a great tool for home swappers like me.