Nobody likes to be criticized. Opening up your vacation rental to public scrutiny can be daunting – sometimes even scary. But online reviews are incredibly important to any vacation rental owner who is trying to build their business.

Indeed, with the rise of review sites such as Yelp, internet users are more likely to trust the opinions of other users than those of “experts”.

According to a study by BrightLocal, 91% of respondents said they trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations. More significantly, over 70% read four or more reviews before trusting a business.

Additionally, the same survey showed that 41% of 35-54-year-olds have read hotel or B&B reviews, along with 39% of those over 65.

As you build your vacation rental website, keep in mind that online reviews should be the backbone of your web presence. With the right strategies, you can turn your reviews into a powerful tool for attracting new visitors and creating a database of loyal repeat guests.

Why do you need vacation rental reviews?

Many hospitality businesses fall short of their competition for a simple reason: they don’t have reviews. As more travelers than ever are taking the time to research and read reviews of accommodation before booking, vacation rental owners can’t afford to miss out. Here are the main reasons that you need to publish vacation rental reviews on your website.

Reviews increase bookings

Travelers rely on others’ opinions to make the right decision for their trips. A Phocuswright study for TripAdvisor found that 83% of respondents said reviews helped them pick the right hotel, and 53% won’t commit to a booking without having read reviews first. What’s more, 80% of travelers read between six and 12 reviews before making a booking.

The reviews a business has clearly have a huge impact on reservation numbers. In order to capture your potential guests when they are researching for their next trip, be sure to have up-to-date reviews on display on your site.

Reviews build trust

Earning guest trust is a big topic for vacation rental owners. If your website isn’t credible, you’ll have a hard time securing bookings. Just as you need the technical security certificates and HTTPS for guests to make safe online bookings, you need vacation rental reviews to make your business trustworthy.

Reviews help your business to grow

The more reviews your vacation rental has, the more reservations you will receive – fact. Better yet, an academic study by Cornell University and TripAdvisor found that as reviews increase, the ratings grow more positive. In addition, reviews are a free way to evaluate your rental business performance. Whether positive or negative, feedback of any kind can highlight what’s working well and where there is room for improvement for the future.

How to make the most of your vacation rental reviews

1. Remember reputation management is a full-time gig

The most effective way to maximize your online reviews is, quite simply, to always be aware of what people are saying about your vacation rental. That means staying informed, monitoring new reviews as they come in and proactively responding to comments (good and bad!) from your visitors.

2. Curate your best reviews

Use the best comments you receive to your advantage and make them visible for inquiring guests. This could be by pinning them to your homepage, highlighting them in your newsletter or even including them in your property description.

3. Respond quickly – no matter what

When a visitor takes the time to leave a review, always validate them with a short thank you. If the review contains any criticism, it is especially important to follow up. Be polite, take their concerns seriously and listen. Above all, don’t be defensive. By doing this, you can turn a potentially negative review into a positive experience.

4. Get in touch with negative reviewers directly

If people have complaints, send them an email. Ask them to detail their concerns or issues and let them know you are always trying to improve your rental. Feedback from guests is the number one way vacation rental owners can improve for the next time, after all!

5. Learn the difference between negative and abusive reviews

Negative reviews contain constructive criticism. Abusive reviews are vague, irrational or contain profanities. In the latter case, the best policy is to delete them immediately. Be sure to follow up directly with the reviewer via email. Let them know why you deleted their comments but that you’d be more than happy listening to their specific concerns.

6. Just ask!

Often, renters simply forget to post reviews – even if their experience was amazing. Or, they may not realize that their opinion is valuable to you. Automate a personalized email that guests will receive upon checkout requesting a testimonial after their stay – and be sure to include a link to the review page! Telling them directly that their opinion and feedback really matter to your business is sure to nudge them into leaving a review.

7. Share them around

Share your best reviews on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and encourage your renters to do the same. By engaging via social media, you establish a deeper connection to your potential and existing guests.

8. The more, the better – period

It’s simple: the more reviews you get, the better chance you’ll have that some of them will be fantastic – and the more likely future renters will leave reviews. So remember: don’t get discouraged and keep listening and responding to renters.

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