When it comes to guest surveys, the old “K.I.S.S.” motto - "Keep It Simple" - works best, and you just might get a few insightful comments in response. Make it complicated and you’ll risk irritating anybody who stops to consider responding.
As a property manager, especially if you're just starting out, think of the places you’ve stayed - both short-term rentals and hotels - and consider what about the property and the experience could have been better. It's impossible to think of everything and even if you do, every guest has different tastes.
That's why using quick surveys can be invaluable to property managers. Maintaining a pulse on what your guests thought of your property is a vital line of communication, and it's best to get started sooner rather than later.
Here's how to get started.
How to write your survey
Inc. Magazine offers some great advice about creating a customer survey, noting that there are five points you need to think about:
1. Have a goal for your survey. What do you want to learn from your survey? Level of guest satisfaction is a common, quantifiable goal for property managers.
2. Write quality questions. Each question should have a purpose. A question without a goal is seen as a waste of time by guests, and it is more likely that they will drop out of the survey before completing it.
3. Choose the best format. Should you use email or leave a printed copy on-site?
4. Work to get a great response rate. While this advice from Inc. is less applicable to a vacation rental survey, there are still valid points. For example, if you email the survey, write a meaningful subject line so it doesn’t get flagged as spam. Another option is to send a follow up email five to ten days afterward to politely remind them and explain how much it would mean to you and your business.
5. Interpret the results. Take time to digest the results and be prepared to act on the recommendations conveyed in the survey results.
Put your survey in action
Not all property managers have the ability or bandwidth to meet guests at the door when they arrive. But every property manager can add a note to the end of a guest's check in instructions, asking that they fill out a brief survey before they check out. Leaving printed copies at your rental can be surprisingly effective in gaining results.
What questions do you ask? The first few questions are formatted as multiple choice:
- What was your favorite amenity offered? (Lists key amenities like WiFi, pool and cable TV.)
- How would you rate the comfort of the bed you slept in? (Scale runs from “uncomfortable” to “excellent.")
- How would you rate the general cleanliness of the cabin? (Scale runs from “unclean” to “excellent.”)
- Overall comfort level? (Scale runs from “very uncomfortable” to “very comfortable.”)
- How would you rate your overall satisfaction with your stay? (Scale runs from "extremely unsatisfied" to "extremely satisfied.")
Keep your final four questions more open ended to leave some space for comments:
- Would you stay here again? If no, why not?
- Would you recommend the cabin to others?
- What did you expect that wasn’t here?
- Do you have any suggestions to make this cabin a better and more enjoyable place to stay?
Be prepared to act on suggestions
Oftentimes you will have to make changes or purchases to enhance the guest experience. Many of the suggestions will be inexpensive purchases that go a long way in improving guest satisfaction. Smaller purchases like alarm clocks in each of the bedrooms, recycling bins or toothbrush holders come at a minimal cost while keep guests comfortable.
The open-ended questions at the end can garner unexpected responses. Giving a voice to a third-party can leave you with valuable recommendations to improve your listings for future guests. Items like a BBQ grill or outdoor seating help guests take advantage of all your properties have to offer.
Other advice is more imperative to making guests feel comfortable, like replacing curtains that fail to block out the sun in a bedroom or improving an A/C unit that doesn't regulate the temperature throughout the house.