Business AspectsVacation Rental Owners

Great reviews result in more stays, how to get them?

We have all heard, ‘If you have it, flaunt it.” When it comes to vacation rentals and short-stay spots, ‘flaunting’ has become highly important. Gone are the days, when the product spoke for itself. This is the age of cut-throat competition. There are so many tools to catch the attraction of your target audience. These help in ‘flaunting’, so that people pick your place more than your competitor’s. 

The more people pick your place, the higher are the chances for you to get reviews. And in turn, greater is the opportunity to get a great review, to keep the ball rolling. The aim here is to know how to convert a stay into a great review. Let’s look at a few Do’s and Don’ts of it. 

You don’t need to wait for ages to start getting great reviews for your VR; we have even summarized the best tips in the below slides; check them out now!

Do’s…

There are Do’s for while your guest is staying at your property, and Do’s for your online presence. Both should be tapped to generate great reviews. 

1. Assess your guest’s interim experiences: There are ways to do this. For example, if the guest orders a meal, you may send a feedback form with it or at the time of clearing the dishes. These days, instead of the old-school paper-based form, hand-held devices are shared. The customer is asked to pick an emoticon out of five to convey his experience. This gives you an idea of how the guest feels about your service. Once you are aware, you may ask them to give you a review at the time of the checkout. This two-step process helps to ensure that the review is a positive one. It also gives you an opportunity to make amends, while your guest is staying at your property. 

2. Showcase your property: You should try to make your guest’s stay a memorable one. If your property is spread across a large expanse, offer them a ride. Try giving them a descriptive tour of the property. This could include showing them a few fruit trees. Explain to them that this is where you get all the fruits to serve your guests. Such things make them interested in your property. It is a start to getting a good review. This also brings to their notice the things they can do while staying at your property. But pick your guests well. Ask them before you take them on a tour, some might be too tired to take it. Don’t make it an imposition. 

3. Well begun is half done: Most places offer a welcome drink to the guests. Make it from a local specialty, such as a fruit only found in your region. These small gestures leave a lasting impact on most guests because they might have never tasted it. Some might even ask how to get it once they have left the place. Guide them, or get the ingredients for them, tell them the brand name, and so on. Such extra efforts go a long way to getting a great review. 

I once went on a vacation, I loved a lemon pickle there. I asked the owner for the brand, she told me. It has been 3 years since that trip and I still eat that pickle and remember the trip vividly. So much so, that I feel it worth mentioning here… 

That’s the kind of impression I am talking about. 

4. Another two-step process: At check-out, take a small survey of the guest’s experience. Suppose they have given you a thumbs up, then send them an email after a few days of check-out. Ask them to give you a descriptive review. Don’t forget to thank them for their time. You may add a small reward for them to give the review such as a discount on their next visit. Show them you were happy to have them and would want them again. 

However, if they give you an average rating, or a thumbs down at check-out, send them an email with a short survey. Give them a phone call. It seems more personal and shows you care. It also prevents them from posting a bad review. Once you have their response, send them a discount coupon and apologize. Convey to them that you are making improvements and would love for them to visit again and see for themselves. 

5. Manage your online presence: Having your property listed on TripAdvisor or Yelp or Airbnb is not enough. You have to keep it up-to-date. Add photos, and make sure they are pretty, edited, and appealing. Add videos, these days Drone videos are very popular and gain the highest social media traction. Keep up with the times for such innovations. Stay relevant. 

Listing is not a one-time affair. It needs to be constantly monitored and reviewed. Your photos should speak. They could be guests who have stayed there (with permission, of course). They should show that your guests had a blast at your property. They could be of an event such as a Christmas Eve Party that was held at your property. 

Photos and Videos gain higher attraction and listings without them don’t stand a chance. And it’s logical too. If your prospective guest wants to have a feel of what he is getting into, he should be able to see it. Owners also use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for showcasing their property at the top. This helps them come into notice of more people, generate more stays, and in turn more reviews. 

6. Manage Reviews: Don’t start with how it is unethical and all that. Managing reviews doesn’t imply manipulating them. It implies altering the frequency of when the good reviews are published. Publishing all of them together doesn’t show continuity. It can even give an impression that these are paid or fake reviews. You need to engage your target audience and keep it realistic. Show that your reviews are organic and generated over a period of time. They should showcase your journey and generate faith in the readers. 

7. Be responsive: Always thank the reviewers. If it is a good review, express your gratitude. Resound the reviewer’s excitement and tone. If it is a bad review, respond to it on a priority basis. Don’t just mention that you will look into it. Send them a detailed feedback link. Show that you care. You may ask them to recount their dissatisfaction through a personal email. You may even request to give them a call. It is not only for the reviewer but for all those who read such reviews. They should know what kind of a host you are. 

Don’ts…

Every coin has two faces. Your efforts might backfire with some guests so be careful. 

1. Don’t pester your guests for reviews: Some guests want peace and quiet. They don’t want to be bothered. They are loners. Don’t spoil their mood. They may not express their discontentment then and there but they are more likely to give you a bad review after check-out. So pick your battles. 

2. Be adaptable: Taking the example of the welcome drink again. At times, your guests might not like the taste of it. You need to be adaptable. You can offer them another one or provide them a taste enhancer. Don’t be defensive. I feel the need to recount another experience here: 

I once went on a vacation, well yes, I love to travel. They offered me a traditional Indian beverage. I was all excited. But it turned out to be sour. I am a sweet tooth. I asked them to give me some sugar. They defensively told me, “Ma’am, it’s supposed to be sour”, imagine my mood throughout my stay… 

Those were not the times of online reviews so they were saved. Had it been so, I would have given them the harshest possible review. And it has been more than 15 years to that trip but I still recount the experience with disappointment. So little things matter a lot. This example applies to many of the services offered by the rentals. Give your guest’s tastes and preferences top priority. 

3. Fake or paid reviews: It is not uncommon to hire a marketing agency to write fake or paid reviews for your property. You may even write them on your own. But it is a double-edged sword. Once things are revealed, you face not only customer dissatisfaction, but your property is banned from online portals. You wouldn’t want such disrepute on an online platform. Think of it as a form of misrepresentation. Even in old-school advertising, it brings disrepute but on an online platform, the impact is harsher. 

Ancient Indians have a saying in Sanskrit, ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’, which translates to ‘Guest is God’ and it is true to the last breath. Treat them with respect, give them your best efforts. Don’t displease them or you will face their wrath. 

Reviews and stays are interconnected and cyclical. Higher the number of stays, the greater is the chance for good reviews. Higher the number of good reviews, the higher is the number of stays. So tapping one is bound to affect the other. With this, I hope you will get the knack of getting great reviews and get more stays. I wish you and your property all the success.

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