The testimony of a satisfied customer is a precious asset for any business, and vacation rentals are no exception. Guest reviews are a great way to attract new renters.
In a prospective renter’s mind, reviews establish you and your property's credibility, enhance your property's allure and may end up being the deciding factor between you and your competition in the mind of future guests.
Here are some guidelines for capturing testimonials while your guests are still basking in the afterglow of their vacation.
Ask promptly for reviews
Contact your guests promptly after their stay (within 2-3 days) and ask for feedback. While you can’t control the feedback you receive, remember that happy customers tend to enjoy sharing their experiences and are far more likely to respond than those feeling less enthusiastic.
If you haven’t heard back in a few days, send a reminder email.
Be open to feedback
Of course, you want to post ringing endorsements on your website, but remember that criticism and negative feedback can be valuable as well. In your request indicate that you are open to constructive feedback so you can provide the best possible guest experience in the future.
If you do receive a negative review on a listing site or your direct channel and cannot remove it, remember to respond but not in haste. Instead take the high road, act professionally, and put the blame on yourself - even when you may not be at fault. Your professionalism will help counteract the negative review in the mind of prospective guests while pointing fingers or ignoring the problem will do the opposite.
Make it user friendly
The easier it is to give feedback, the more likely your renters will participate. Here’s a few ways to solicit reviews:
1. Use a feedback form or survey
Make it easy for your guests by soliciting feedback with a series of questions or rating scales. You can then try to capture those juicy quotes you’re hoping for with an open comment field at the end. Since surveys don’t typically have high response rates, keep the number of questions short and let them know how long it will take.
It doesn't have to be intricate. Keep it simple like this one. 4 questions, 2 minutes.
2. Avoid simple replies
Even if you provide a link to a form or survey in your email, guests might just end up hitting the “reply” button anyway. Make sure the reply address is set to a monitored email (don’t use a firstname.lastname@example.org email).
While the responses will be less structured, getting the feedback is more important than being left empty-handed.
3. Create an online guest book
Create a personal touch by offering a guest log for comments on your website. This will give travelers another channel to offer feedback. Many will enjoy the opportunity to read through and compare their comments to previous guests' reflections.
While your guests will appreciate the experience of contributing to an online community and sharing the review process, you will maintain quality control over which feedback is visible.
4. Utilize social media
If you think the renter would prefer social media rather than email, send them a Facebook message and ask for feedback on your business's Facebook page.
Depending on their profile's privacy level, you may have to invite them to “like” your short-term rental page before you can send them a direct message.
5. Encourage reviews on third party websites
If other guests have already started leaving you reviews on listing sites, encourage others to add reviews to boost your rating. These peer-to-peer reviews offer peace of mind to the renter that they are reading reviews from other travelers – not just taking the owner’s word for it.
If a guest booked one of your properties through a specific channel, it may be easier for your guest to leave a review on the respective channel. Some channels send an automatic request for reviews. Others, like Airbnb, require that you leave a review on the guest before the channel sends an automated request to the guest to review their stay.
As positive reviews accumulate, you will build a presence on channels and see more bookings as a result!
Follow up with your guests
It’s not only important to thank positive reviewers individually but in the case of rave reviews, it’s a good idea to try to foster an ongoing relationship with your customer. Offering incentives for a return trip or a lower rate during their next stay in exchange for referring a friend is a great way to build a relationship with a guest and their network.
These people are your brand ambassadors and can be vital resources for growing your business. Of course, this will also help you establish a rapport with potential repeat customers.