My wife and I have stayed in many Airbnbs in the past few years. From California to Florida in the United States, from Paris in France to Rome in Italy, even some areas in Southern Thailand. We’ve stayed in some higher end rentals, as well as many inexpensive ones. And you know one thing we noticed? Most of these Airbnbs did not have welcome trays! As a host, I can understand the reasons many Airbnb owners decide NOT to create a welcome tray. Most reasons are…

“It’s a waste of time” “‘It’s too expensive” “No one appreciates it”

But from the viewpoint of a guest, I came to realize that when I walked into a property and it had a welcome tray, I immediately felt a sense of comfort and appreciation. I really felt like our hosts cared about their job, and cared about us as guests. It definitely got me off on the right foot to be inclined to leave a 5 Star review. I’m sure I’m not the only guest who has felt that way…

So here’s the million dollar question: “How do I create a welcome tray that won’t be too expensive, won’t take up so much time, but guests will still appreciate?” Well, let’s dive in.

A Cheap Welcome Tray (Emphasis on ‘cheap’)

I know what you’re thinking, “I’m not cheap, I take care of my guests.” And I agree with you! But there has to be a line, we aren’t running a charity. A welcome tray is really about the thought, and not always about the expense. Most guest wont be able to perceive the difference between a tray worth $6 and one worth $50-If done right. Here are some quick tips:

Include a location specific gift

Is there something specific to your area that visitors would appreciate? Can you include a post card or a keychain with the name & theme of your area on it? Even if you think this sounds like a sub-par gift, remember-You’re not a visitor. Locals and visitors view small tchotchkes (“Chotch-skees”) completely differently. You’ll give them something small to remember your area by, that isn’t cumbersome to travel home with, and will cost you close to nothing.

For instance, if you come to Hawaii and stay in one of our Airbnbs, you will get to try our Hawaiian Macadamia Milk Chocolates. That sounds a lot more personal than giving you a pack of M&Ms right? (even though I’m a huge M&M fan)

Also, think about this: Everyone and their mother knows the average price of a bag of M&Ms. Your guest can immediately equate a gift of an M&M packet with a 30-50 cent gift. But if it were a local candy, say a Hawaiian Macadamia Milk Chocolate, most visitors would have no idea the cost. Therefore they will appreciate it much more, even if the costs are the same! The same can be said of any local gift you include in your welcome tray.

Include something edible or useful

Welcome trays are nice touch to add spark to a listing, but if there isn’t anything practical included that the guest could use, most guests will scan through the tray, and immediately move on. The welcome tray will not serve its purpose for many guests. So here are some specific ideas for ‘practical’ items to include in your welcome tray;

-1 Bottle of water per guest, or a large bottle for the whole party (Trust us, this is definitely appreciated after a long flight or drive, and won’t cost you more than a few cents)

-Location specific candies or snacks

-A bottle of wine (Moderately priced, not expensive, but not too cheap. No one likes cheap wine 🙂

-A map of the immediate area (With a mark on the map of where your property is located) -A postcard from your area
-A bottle of local hand soap or lotion
-Local fresh fruits

There are many other things you can add to your welcome tray, but hopefully these ideas can get your creative juices flowing 🙂 Keep in mind all the above suggestions are CHEAP.

Keep it Visually Appealing

A welcome tray can backfire if it is unappealing to the eye. This can be because it is disorganized or has too many items in it. Remember to keep it simple. Here’s what our welcome trays look like:

As you can see, we don’t add too many items to our welcome trays. In fact from a hosts perspective, you may be thinking that it’s so simple, then why even do it? Well the answers come in our 100+ 5 Star reviews. SO many guests thank us whole heartedly for the “generous gifts” we’ve left them in the welcome tray.

Leaving welcome trays are not a common practice for many hosts in our area, so this is the key to setting ourselves apart. And guess what?? These trays cost us no more than $5 per Turnover! For less than 5% of our nightly price, we are able to boost our reviews, leading to increased revenue in the long term. But now comes the question “How much time does this take up?”

Time Saving tips when Making Your Welcome Tray

Time is money. Thats statement is true with any business, especially Airbnb. So then, here are a few tips that can help you save time when buying items for your welcome tray, and when setting them up:

Buy in Bulk

-This saves time and money, as items are less when bought in bulk, and you spend less time driving to the store to purchase them.

Store items onsite

-Storing the items at the property makes it so much easier to set up and manage your welcome tray. It also makes it easier in the case that you’ve hired out your Turnovers to a third party cleaner. You can even list the items you want the cleaner to leave in your welcome tray in the TurnoverBnB app checklist!

Lock access to any extra items

-It can be so frustrating to come to your property to turn it over for the next guest, only to find that the previous guest took all of your extra Welcome tray items. What a pain! That’s a sure way to waste time and money, and it’s something we’ve had to learn the hard way. Be smarter than us, and keep your items in a LOCKED room or cabinet.

Keep it consistent

-When you stick to a pattern, you will become more and more efficient with your time. Use the same items, same amount of items, and same layout of items on your tray for every group you host. This will reduce the time you take setting up your welcome tray, and lessen the amount of mistakes you or your cleaners will make.

The Welcome Tray- A Simple Way to Boost Your Reviews

In the end, setting up welcome trays do not need to be outrageously expensive, and don’t need to be time consuming. It just requires a little bit of thought and creativity. In the ever growing Airbnb community, standing out is key to your business surviving and thriving. With the information above, you are now equipped to create the perfect Welcome Tray for your Airbnb listing!


About the Author: Kinohi is a professional Airbnb Host located in Honolulu, Hawaii. Click here to view Kinohi’s profile!