Do online vacation rental reviews really affect the leisure travel industry? The short answer is: Yes.
Due to the popularity and influence reviews have on customers, they are here to stay. For property owners specifically, reviews have a huge impact on how others view a vacation rental and the experience when staying in that rental. In fact, negative or no reviews can actually cause property owners to lose business and online exposure.
Websites and Vacation Rental Reviews
With a focus on creating a more positive experience for customers, many sites will penalize businesses for negative or no reviews. Search engines and listing sites aim to ensure online users receive the most up-to-date and relevant information available. If a vacation rental listing or company does not have reviews, sites will flag them as irrelevant and possible scams.
Stat: A survey by Dimensional Research, sponsored by Zendesk, found that 88 percent of Internet users have been influenced by an online customer service review when making a purchase decision.
For example, take a look at listing site HomeAway, which switched to a best-match process in 2016. The new process looks at reviews – the more positive the better – and factors that to decide if that property matches the user’s preferences. In this case, vacation rental reviews help boost the rental property higher on the page in terms of search and relevancy. Rentals with poor or no reviews will fall far down the search result list.
Trust Builds Trust
Think about the vacation rental guest. If you’re researching a rental to spend your vacation time and money, would you read the reviews? How would you know if the rental is the right rental without knowing how previous customers feel? That’s exactly how a guest feels before they book a rental. They ask themselves, “Is this the right rental for my trip and/or family?”
Reviews can answer this question as well as provide valuable insight into how a property management company operates. Through online reviews, potential guests can see how others enjoyed their experience and how the property manager conducted business while guests were there.
How to Get More Vacation Rental Reviews
Industry experts have offered advice for years on how to get more and higher-quality reviews. There is no simple method or answer, and it does take time and work. To get started, read these three steps to get more reviews for your property:
Start With a Call
Responsiveness is the first step to a positive review. When a guest arrives, call to check if they need anything. This accomplishes two things: 1) It allows you to personally connect with the guest and lets them know you care, and 2) Gives the guest the opportunity to address any concerns immediately. If there is a problem, they can tell you about it instead of waiting for it to get worse or ignoring the issue.
Send an Email During Their Stay
Many property managers make the mistake of requesting a review once the guest has returned home. Once the vacation is over, travelers return to the daily grind of chores, work and other adult responsibilities. Sending a review request during this time may seem logical, but in reality, the guest is too busy to respond and the honeymoon is over.
The best time to send a review request email is during the guests’ stay. They are in vacation mode, love the area and have more time to write about how much they enjoy the rental, location, activities, etc.
Follow Up Immediately
Once they submit the review, write a personalized response and thank them for their feedback. Keep in mind, not all reviews will be five-stars, so professionally address any and all issues they mention. Start with thanking them for staying in your rental, then address any feedback they provide. Your response should make them feel heard, understood and supported.
After writing a response, send a personal ‘thank you’ email and make the review process worth their time. Think about ways to enhance their next vacation, including coupon codes, special discounts, gift cards and free merchandise. This not only builds a stronger guest relationship, but also shows them that writing a review was worth their time.
VR Pro Tip: It’s important to offer promos and items after the review is posted online as a simple thank you. It is illegal to pay for reviews and provide false representation according to Federal Trade Commission guidelines. Read more about the legalities of paid and fake reviews.
Do you have an interesting tactic for receiving five-star reviews? Share your tips in the comments.