There are many things owners can do to get their vacation rental close to perfection. Whether it’s providing must-have amenities, thoughtful items, or investing in good quality furniture, hosts want to ensure that their guests have a pleasant time in their property and uplift the guest experience. In return, it can earn you a positive review and more bookings overall.
However, sometimes guests are left unsatisfied which results in a negative review. No host ever wants to receive these, so what if we told you there are steps you can follow to prevent negative reviews from happening in the first place?
When you understand what riles renters the most, you can work on fixing all those potential frustrations before they even have a chance to materialize. We’ve compiled 10 of the most common negative reviews from guests, using real reviews.
Why do Guests Complain and Leave Negative Reviews?
Complaints tend to arise whenever the guest experience fails to live up to expectations. Remember that each and every guest will have different standards on what five-star service means. For some travelers, this may be a bit of dust that got missed behind in cleaning and for others, it’s an uncomfortable mattress or something broken.
That’s why owners need to cover all bases and do everything in their power to anticipate any opportunity for disappointment long before check-in. You want your guests to have a great experience from the minute they touch down on your vacation rental website to when they are home from their vacation, typing up their review about your home.
In order to preempt unpleasant reviews from happening, it’s beneficial to look into what dissatisfies guests the most, so you can avoid the same thing occurring to you. Here are the most recurring complaints to be aware of:
1. Inaccurate or Misleading Listing Description
“This property is not quite what it was advertised as. To start off, the owners live downstairs with their two small dogs, who kept coming upstairs and into our rooms uninvited, very contrary to ‘quiet apartment in Greenville, you’ll have the whole place to yourself.’ Said King size bed when it was even smaller than a Queen size. Said Netflix was included but their subscription expired. Said free breakfast included but no food whatsoever! They didn’t even include bedsheets! When we told them, they said we should have brought our own. Do not trust these hosts at all!” Stars given: 1/5
More often than not, a misleading description that paints an inaccurate picture of your home will only come back to haunt you in the form of a negative review. So take note: the only surprises guests will like are free welcome packs or added amenities, not inhospitable conditions.
While you don’t need to go over the top, honesty really is the best policy when it comes to pleasing guests. Be accurate with your listings, that way, if guests run into some problems, they were aware of it before.
2. Poor Communications with the Host
“I’ve been using Home Away regularly, I’ve never had a bad experience until now. I was planning a visit to NYC and decided to stay in Astoria. On April 24th, I paid $370 for 2 nights stay in the apartment. My stay was 2 weeks later. When I recieved an email saying my reservation was complete, I immediately responded and asked for the information on check-in time, e.g. how to get the key for the apartment. I got NO response to my emails. I sent many emails with no response, and I called and left several phone messages on the number I was given for my “host”. Finally, 2 days before the trip, I spent a great deal of time trying to reach someone in customer service, who attempted to reassure me that HomeAway had used this host in the past, and that it wasn’t a fraudulent site. The day before, the host finally sends me an AUTOMATED email: “Dear guest, the check-in is at 6 pm as I have another guest in the apartment until 3 pm and I work until 5 pm. Please send me a message half an hour before you check in to confirm your arrival.”
Imagine you’re a guest. You’ve booked your flights, your accommodation, your activities for the week, yet check-in day is approaching and you’ve still not heard a peep from your host. You begin to worry and stress that you’ve been scammed! Yet these situations can be avoided so easily.
Communicating with your guests should be second nature to any host. You should aim to provide them with the most information possible leading up to their stay (including directions from local airports and stations, instructions for check-in/check-out, and perhaps most importantly, your telephone number or your property manager’s) in case of emergency or if any issues arise. Knowing you’re at the end of the phone in case anything goes wrong will be a huge relief to guests, and help you achieve a top star rating for communication.
What happens if you can’t reply straight away? Luckily, Lodgify’s reservation system allows you to set up automated responses. When triggered by events (e.g. inquiries, booking confirmations, contact requests, etc), the reservation software will automatically send ready-made, personalized emails to your guests.
3. Uncomfortable Beds or Noisy Sleeping Conditions
“The beds are some of the worst we have ever slept in. The queen bed had indents (probably from years of sleeping). The indents are such that the head ends up being lower than the feet. They also make it so you roll out of bed. The other beds were even worse. On top of that, the comforters and sheets were dirty and full of holes.” Stars given: 1/5
“We were very disappointed with our stay here. Every footstep from the unit above sounded like a platoon of soldiers marching. The occupant of that unit marched around and we could hear his TV till 3 am. Every time they turned the tap on or flushed the toilet, we heard that too, which they did a lot of.” Stars given: 1/5
Some of the most valuable rooms in your vacation rental will undoubtedly be the bedrooms, so it’s worth investing in good quality furniture – in particular, mattresses – that will last for years to come. Some of the main reasons people go on vacation include to relax, de-stress and explore a new place. So don’t ruin this for your visitors by providing uncomfortable, rock-hard beds to rest their heads after a busy day.
Equally, ensure guests can actually get a good night’s sleep and aren’t going to be disturbed or constantly woken by neighborhood noises by having the right insulation, and extras like double glazed windows for extra soundproofing protection.
4. Lack of Cleanliness
“I wish I could give this house 0 stars. My family and I were excited to stay at this house after viewing the pictures online. I was so appalled at the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of this dump when we arrived, which was not at all as the pictures had shown. Dishes in the kitchen were left dirty, there was moldy food in the fridge. Upstairs we were met with unmade beds with dirty linens. That’s the LAST thing you want to see when you show up to a place where you’ll be spending the night. Whilst showering in pitch black (the electricity cut out too), we found 0 towels. There were no clean linens left for us in the entire house. Also, you would think you’d be met with cleaned toilets, instead of disgusting dirty toilets with the seats left up. Needless to say, we left straight away!” Stars given: 1/5
In order to get 5 stars for your vacation rental, you have to treat it no differently than if it were a luxury five-star hotel – particularly when it comes to cleaning. Any kind of dirt, grime, stains or even a few hairs left behind in sensitive areas (especially beds, toilets, showers, and kitchens), will make guests squirm and will likely affect their review of your place.
Whether you clean your home yourself or contract somebody else to, make sure high standards are set from the very beginning and fulfilled every time a guest departs. Download this cleaning checklist in PDF to ensure a spotless stay.
5. No WIFI
“I do not recommend this place at all! Our cottage had roaches and was so outdated and worn out. The property manager would get annoyed every time we asked a question, even a simple one such as directions. The WIFI did not work! Even though they advertised that WIFI was included. And guess what? The property manager did not care.” Stars given: 1/5
Aside from the few guests who might be looking for a technology-free vacation, most have come to expect good WiFi as a given in any rental property – and to keep guests truly happy, that means throughout the entire home. If you’re worried about the security issues that may surface from letting guests connect to your WiFi network, take a look at this article about ensuring guests don’t misuse your WiFi.
6. Location Deception
“First the hot tub was dirty. The water was so filthy and brown you couldn’t even see through it, so we didn’t use it. That was the main reason we rented the house, to use the hot hub. Second, the riverfront 150ft from the property was a lie. Close to half a mile. You had to walk through a rocky stagnant creek, through a bunch of bush and rock (no trail) to get to the Sandy River. Grabbing our chairs and sitting by the river was not an option, yet another disappointment. The area was not secluded at all. The neighbors had a clear view, as we did of them, we were very close. Overall huge disappointment and we would not rent again.”
The photos you upload of your property and its surrounding area are the most basic element that helps persuade guests your home is right for them. Photos that show nearby resorts as though that’s where the property is located (when in reality it’s not) are not going to help earn you positive reviews.
Don’t be afraid to add captions to your images to describe what the photograph depicts and how far it is from your property – a “20-minute walk from (your property name)” or a “one-hour drive from (your property name)” will make all the difference. Plus, guests won’t feel cheated when they arrive as they’ll know distances in advance.
A good idea to integrate Google Maps on your vacation rental website. This way, guests will see the exact location of the property and can do their own research by exploring points of interest nearby. They will for sure know the correct distance by zooming out.
7. Too Many Rules
“Nice house but too many rules made us feel uncomfortable. Felt a bit uncomfortable e.g. there was a rule that said don’t unplug any of the TV cables but then another rule at the front door as you left asking if you had unplugged the TV cables. Reminders in every room to turn off the lights off. There were 6 notices in the family bathroom! At least it gave us something to read in there!” Stars given: 1/5
While owners need a set of house rules in place for worst-case scenarios and horror story guests, these should be made very clear from the listing – that is, before any booking has been made. If guests can only access a certain part of the house, tell them. If they can only use the washer/dryer mid-week or if the trash only gets collected once a week, let them know.
When guests are bombarded with a rule book upon arrival, it’s never going to go down well. Reassess your property and what you define as rules that need to be stated clearly, and be sure to communicate this from the very first contact. Something as simple as “please treat our property with respect” will do.
8. Lack of Privacy
“Terrible! No privacy at all. Be aware that the walls of these rooms do not reach the ceiling. You can hear other people’s conversations right next door. Ever seen the movie the Beach? Where Leonardo Dicaprio talks with his neighbors at the top of the wall? Well, that’s exactly how it was! No refund. I highly advise that you find a place somewhere else.” Stars given: 1/5
This is more common for hosts who share their home whilst they are living in it, but a lack of privacy will get on any visitors’ nerves. Respect your guests’ boundaries. The same goes for loudness – keep noise to a minimum when you’re home the same time as your guests in order to help them feel comfortable, relaxed and able to have a nap after a busy day if needed.
9. Broken, Worn Out Amenities and Dirty
“What a disappointment!!! This home was DIRTY! All the furnishings were worn out! Kitchen appliances were old, dishwasher was broken. Tiles in the bathroom were cracked. Floors were filthy. Towels had holes in them. All mattresses were worn out, very uncomfortable. Shrubs and trees overgrown in the backyard, couldn’t see the backyard itself. The screen porch furniture was worn out. Master bath needs to be gutted, ring in the other tub filled with spiders. Webs hanging from the lamps. Plantation shutters covered with dust. Spider web on the kitchen table. Too expensive for such a poorly maintained home. Will not rent this property or recommend to anyone!” Stars given: 1/5
It can’t be stressed enough that all the bits and pieces which help make staying at your vacation rental such an enjoyable experience need to be checked every so often for damage. Remembering to replace any items that are showing signs of wear and tear will keep the guest experience positive time and time again. The price you’ll have to pay to repair a bad review will be far more than replacing a few pots, pans and other essentials now and then.
10. Essentials not included
“The unit itself was decent, but when we arrived there was 0 toilet paper in the condo, in both bathrooms. No paper towels provided, only 1 garbage bag, so we could only take the garbage out once, during an 8-day stay for 4 people. No dish soap or bathroom soap. So we had to go to the store and get everything. Considering we traveled by plane, we couldn’t take any of this back. In the kitchen, there were no bowls, plates or cutlery. Just 5 paper cups. Very disappointing, especially when they said they would include the household essentials.”
Most guests have some expectations of what will have been left for their use. This usually includes basic vacation rental amenities such as toilet paper, towels, cleaning products, shower gels and kitchen essentials such as coffee capsules.
If you’re not going to provide enough toilet roll for the entire duration of the stay, be sure to note this in your listing and reiterate it again in your pre-departure email. Guests will appreciate the honesty so they can plan ahead, rather than run out of essential items in the middle of the night
Recognizing any potential issues or pain points before they have the chance to disappoint your guests will certainly help you on your way to receiving a full set of five-star reviews. Now that you know why guests may complain, make sure you offer them the best guest experience possible. After all, your vacation rental business wouldn’t be anything without your guests, that’s why their opinions are so valuable for your core strategy!