Many hospitality businesses fall short of their competition for a simple reason: they don’t have any or enough reviews. Research shows that more than three-quarters of travelers check reviews for hotels and alternative accommodation before making their reservations. As a result, it’s crucial you have a collection of real guest reviews on your website so your potential bookers can read about others’ experiences.
As you build or maintain your vacation rental website, keep in mind that online reviews should be one of the backbones 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?
According to a study by BrightLocal, 91% of respondents said they trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations. More significantly, over 70% read 4 or more reviews before trusting a business. What’s more, the survey showed that 41% of 35-54-year-olds have read hotel or B&B reviews, along with 39% of those over 65.
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 why you need to publish reviews on your vacation rental website.
1. 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. Additionally, 80% of travelers read between 6 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 showcase all your reviews and have them up-to-date on your site.
2. 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.
Travelers will confide in you and your business once they’ve seen reviews posted by other guests who’ve stayed at your rental. In turn, they will feel more at ease in making a reservation, knowing you’re a renowned host with a lot of guest testimonials.
3. Reviews help you improve your business
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.
For example, if a guest comments about the amenities you provide, you’ll know it’s worth keeping and something that enhances the guest experiences. Similarly, if a traveler complains about a certain trait, consider adjusting or making the necessary changes.
You can use reviews when conducting a vacation rental analysis to determine what is working well and what needs improvement.
How to make the most of your vacation rental reviews
Having someone other than yourself speak well of your business not only gives you credibility but also gives value to your business. So what are the best means to take reviews to your advantage? Here are 8 ways to utilize 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 (both positive and negative) from your visitors.
This is one aspect of your site that needs to be updated and refreshed regularly. A guest who wants to book will likely be put off if the latest review is from over three years ago!
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.
Put them into quotations, for example, “Our stay at Homestead was magical! We’ll definitely be coming back next fall”. Consider posting them across your social media sites too, such as Facebook and Instagram. In the meanwhile, it will also boost your business’ brand awareness.
3. Get in touch with negative reviewers directly
If a review contains any criticism, it’s especially important to follow up. Be polite, take their concerns seriously and listen. By doing this, you can turn a potentially negative review into a positive experience.
When a guest complains, send them an email. Ask them to detail their concerns or issues and let them know that you are always trying to improve your rental. Above all, don’t be defensive. Feedback from guests is the number one way vacation rental owners can improve for the next time.
4. Respond quickly – no matter what
When a visitor takes the time to leave a review, always validate them with a short thank you. For example, “(Guest Names) were absolutely wonderful guests to host. I just knew that my home was in good hands with them. Thank you for staying at (name of property)”
By responding straight away, you won’t worry about forgetting to reply later. Lodgify has put together 101 examples to help you review your guests on Airbnb. You can download it here in PDF.
5. Learn the difference between negative and abusive reviews
Negative reviews contain constructive criticism. Abusive reviews, on the other hand, 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 that you’d be more than happy to listen to their specific concerns.
If an abusive review was written on an external listing site such as Airbnb, you should contact Airbnb straight away and open up a case. According to Airbnb’s latest policies, they can delete reviews that were written out of anger and retaliation.
6. Ask for reviews
Often, renters simply forget to post reviews – even if their experience was amazing. Or at times, they may not realize that their opinion is valuable to you. Consider automating a personalized email requesting a testimonial that guests will receive upon checkout.
With Lodgify’s automation software, you can send automated SMS texts or emails to remind your guests to write a review after their stay. 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
Social media marketing is an excellent way to market to new users. Every time a user interacts with your content, it automatically appears on that user’s news feed. So whenever someone “likes” any of your posts, it can be seen by hundreds or even thousands of their friends.
Share your best reviews on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and encourage your renters to do the same. By engaging via social media, you’re increasing exposure to your business, as you’re more likely to reach new users.
8. The more, the better
It’s simple: the more reviews you get, you more bookings you’re likely to incur. Compiling reviews actually improves your vacation rental website’s SEO, meaning your site will be found quicker on search sites such as Google.
By including your customer reviews or testimonials and adding links to websites listing these reviews, your site will send strong signals to Google about your business credibility and you’ll have more of a chance of standing out in local search results.
What to Take Away
Guest reviews have an endless list of advantages for your vacation rental business. So keep adding your reviews, keep responding and keep listening! As you start to build your reviews, future guests will be more likely to leave a review too. In turn, this will all lead to brand awareness, increased bookings, and feedback for your business!
Guest reviews are a viable source of marketing, as they showcase how great your vacation rental is to potential guests browsing your website. Most travelers consider reviews before making a reservation, so your reviews are one of the best opportunities to promote your business.