According to Nielsen’s research on “Global Trust in Advertising”, 83% of users trust their friends’ and families’ recommendations and 66% trust reviews of people they don’t even know. But how about ads? Less than 40% of people trust them. So if you want your vacation rental website to be trusted by potential customers, you need to use social proof!
The Fogg Behavior Model confirms that customers behaviors occur (e.g. booking a night in your vacation rental website) when the following elements come together: motivation, ability and trigger. If customers aren’t booking, it’s because at least one of these elements is missing. Use social proof to secure the motivation element! Big brands like Airbnb, Hilton, and any other kind of company use social proof on their websites.
But what is social proof and how can you use it for your vacation rental business? Read on to find out!
What is social proof and why does my vacation rental website need it?
Social proof is the positive reaction that’s generated when people see that others are doing the same thing and assume that it’s the right thing to do. It’s kind of how trends begin – someone starts a new trend, many others follow and eventually, people like yourself join in because it’s really cool or appealing.
Marketers use social proof to help overcome customer worries and increase conversions and bookings.
Here are some examples of real-life social proof examples you see on a daily basis:
Restaurants sometimes make you wait outside while waiting for a table. This makes people passing by think that the restaurant is highly demanded and they’re more likely to visit it in the future.
If you want to sign up to a country club, you’re probably going to have to join a waiting list. This makes people feel like they’re part of an exclusive club.
Sitcoms use canned laughter to persuade you to laugh along at the funny moments with them.
Social proof is everywhere, and when used effectively, it will improve your vacation rental bookings!
Types of Social proof
There are different types of social proof and each one has its own merits. But if we had to group them up in different types, we’d do it accordingly:
1. User social proof:
Customer reviews, testimonials and success stories. You can even invite users to create videos of their experience at your vacation rental.
2. Expert social proof:
When a credible expert such a journalist, blogger or business leader comments on your vacation rental business. For example, if a popular Youtube Vlogger stays at your VR and were to recommend it in a video that’s viewed by one million subscribers, you might increase your bookings and will be able to feature the testimonial on your website.
3. Friends wisdom:
People trust their family and friends, so if someone has had a great experience with you, their peers will want to experience the same things.
4. Celebrity social proof:
Having a celebrity book your VR can get you free press, but if you manage to get them to endorse your property, it will explode on social media.
5. Crowd wisdom:
When you’ve had hundreds of guests and a high percentage of them have had a great experience, you can say things like “Served X thousands of guests”.
How to use Social Proof to Increase your Vacation Rental Bookings
How can social proof help you increase conversions? Below are eight social proof strategies that you can use as leverage for your vacation rental business (Click on each link to scroll down):
Even though users don’t know who the reviewers are, reading about what their experience was like can be a decisive factor on whether to book your vacation rental.
Studies show that nearly 70% of online consumers look at reviews before purchasing and 88% of them trust them as much as personal recommendations! Another 68% of people will visit a local business after reading positive reviews on their website.
Ask for customer reviews. You’d be surprised, but this really works! Your guests understand how important reviews are nowadays and if they had a great time, they will be happy to write you one. If you get a compliment via email, phone or in person, you can also let them know that you’d appreciate it if they left their feedback on your website.
Make it easy to leave reviews. Most users won’t remember to leave you a review. That’s why you need to make it as easy as possible for them to do so after asking for one.
Send a follow-up email after guests have stayed at your vacation rental and ask them specific questions you’d like them to answer for more detailed reviews (and not just “it was great”).
You can even prepare a small flyer and include it to your check-in package.
Respond to your reviews as soon as possible. If the review is positive, thank your guests for taking the time to share their experience with others and let them know that you care. If it’s a negative review, try to get as much data from the customer to look them up on your database and see what went wrong. Once you’ve got their information, you can try to address any problems and give them a solution.
Like most Lodgify websites, Sand Rock Farm has a custom page to showcase their guest reviews:
In addition to having a review page, some vacation rental owners like Budahome also choose to feature them on their homepage:
If your vacation rental properties operate in regulated areas and you’d like to prove your legitimacy, you can use certifications and trust seals as social proof. Most secure and accrediting organizations offer badges, certificates or seals that can be freely placed on your website. VeriSign, for example, is known for increasing conversion rates in e-commerce websites by as much as 30%.
Why it works:
By placing trust seals and credibility badges on your website, potential customers can see that you’re a trustworthy, respected vacation rental owner. They’ll naturally boost online credibility with potential guests!
Tips for using credibility badges:
Use security badges. If you’re accepting online payments and handling sensitive guest information, you can use security seals to assure your guests that their data is safe.
Excellence awards. Include the logo or badge of any awards you’ve received to show that you’ve has been recognized for running a decent vacation rental business.
Listing website badges. Most listing websites offer branded badges to increase your online visibility.
Locanda del Parco included a Trip Advisor badge and another one to prove that their vacation rental is located inside Portofino park.
Has your vacation rental business ever been mentioned in the media? This includes interviews, being featured in magazines and blogs, TV segments, etc.
Having big media names on your site gives a lot of credibility to your business. Where would you rather stay, the vacation rental who has zero badges or the property that has been featured in The New York Times and CondéNast Traveler? Exactly.
Why it works:
Customers still trust the media – a whopping 66% of customers trust newspaper articles and any form of written editorial content. If the media talks about your vacation rental business, it must be because you’re doing really well and have got something great to offer.
Tips for getting media testimonials:
Get their attention. Stories about how your vacation rental is a home away from home probably won’t catch their eye, but if you give it a local angle and write about something unexpected or unique, they’ll be interested.
Build personal connections. The more personal connections you can build with journalists and influential bloggers, the more likely they’ll think of you when they write about vacation rentals.
Share your news with them. Make a list of the media you’d like to be featured in and find the contact information of the journalists that specialize in whatever your story is about. It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone that always writes about vacation rentals and the industry. Once you have your list, write up a concise eye-catching press release or a simple email that truly sells your story and send away! Don’t forget to follow up later.
One of our customers uses different types of social proof on their website like customer reviews, credibility badges and Tripadvisor reviews. But what makes its vacation rental website stand out is how she uses media mentions.
They have quotes of journalists and logos of the magazines and newspapers they’ve been featured in on the homepage:
They also have a dedicated custom page with a slideshow of their press clippings:
Instead of just gaining any general media mentions, in this case, you want to target industry experts and bloggers.
The more influential and relevant the expert, the more powerful the social proof. So if you’ve ever received a compliment from Matt Landau, Heather Bayer or any other specialist in the vacation rental sphere, add it to your website! Remember to add a picture of the person who endorsed you, because studies show that they make the statement even more credible.
Why it works:
There’s a science that backs up influencer marketing. These type of endorsements work off the back of the Halo effect. Influencers and industry experts already have established good reputations for themselves. By association, any positive comments or relationships they’re seen to have with your VR business is more good press for you and will boost your likeability.
Tips for getting testimonials from influencers:
Fluff their ego. Everyone loves to be flattered, especially if it’s sincere. Do your homework on the influencers you’re contacting and send them personal emails explaining how they’ve inspired you. Just keep it short. No one has time to read.
Collaborate with them. Find out what they’re interested in and what you could help them with. You could even test their products and services and offer to write a testimonial in return. It’s all about creating win-win situations for both parties.
Celebrity endorsements are admittedly a bit more tricky, especially because they can be really expensive and you can’t always guarantee a good return.
The secret is to find a celebrity who matches with your brand’s goals, objectives and personality. The celeb should also be known and liked by your target audience. If it’s a mismatch, you could end up harming your business and brand.
Why it works:
From a psychological perspective, it works because of the concept of extended self; people view their possessions as a reflection of themselves. So they look for products that mark their position in society and make them feel like they’re part of a group.
If potential guests see that a celebrity they like endorses your vacation rental, they’ll be intrigued to know why, visit your site and maybe even book their next trip!
Tips for getting reviews from celebrities:
Impress. Invite them to your vacation rental property and give them the full-on experience. Show them everything you can offer and personalize it just for them. What do they love to eat, drink and do? Stock up your rental with all of those things. If they decide to come visit, they’ll appreciate you took the time to “get to know them”.
Invest. The bad thing about simply inviting them to your property is that you can’t really expect anything in return. They may mention your business, they may write a testimonial or completely ignore you. But if you decide to spend big bucks, you can get exactly what you’re looking for: viral mentions, press attention, positive brand perception and more bookings.
FOMO stands for fear of missing out, and it’s the anxiety that customers feel when they hear about something exciting and feel like they have to act on it otherwise they’ll miss out big time!
Although FOMO sounds like something that’s been invented by and for millennials, it’s actually been around forever. You can use FOMO to convince your potential guests that you’ve got something exclusive and they might not get access to it. For example, sending your previous guests an email with an exclusive offer that expires in five days. If it’s an unbeatable offer, they’ll act fast and make a repeat booking.
Why it works:
This newly named social anxiety mostly takes place on social media, as users see what’s going on in their friends’ lives and comparing it to their own situation.
Tips for using FOMO marketing:
Add deadlines. Create special offers with limited timeframes and let them know that there’s a consequence if they don’t act fast (e.g. price raise).
Show them that they’re not alone. Let them know how many other people have acted on your offer. For example, if you want them to sign up to your newsletter, you could include “join 5,000 of your friends”, so they know how many other subscribers you already have. They can’t all be stupid for subscribing, and they can’t dare miss out on your news!
Te amo playa personalized their background with a seasonal promotion; their users can get 40% off if they book from August 16 to September 31!
This is one of the most simple strategies of using social proof to increase bookings: showcase the raw number of customers, visits, social media followers, newsletter subscribers, or any other statistic that brings credibility to your brand.
Why it works:
If you’ve got numbers to show it’s because people trust in your VR business and have had good experiences. People like knowing they’re not the first ones to stay at your place!
Tips for using Raw numbers:
Think big, but don’t go overboard. You have a lot of numbers to show but choose the ones that sound impressive, but not the one’s that are so large people won’t believe you.
Make it relevant. If your main objective is to get more bookings, tell them how many other guests have stayed in your property. Want them to subscribe to your newsletter? Tell them how many subscribers you have.
Integrate your social media accounts into your website and show your visitors what people are saying about you in real time. As well as being another type of testimonial or review, users can also see that it’s coming from an external source, so there’s an extra degree of trust.
Why it works:
Just like testimonials and customer reviews, people like knowing what other people think of your business. If guests have already had a great experience with you, potential customers feel like they will too! Adding social media mentions just makes it more credible because potential guests can click on their accounts and even contact them to get extra information.
Tips for using Social media proof:
Show the shares. Show your visitors how many people have liked and shared your content.
Let them share your content. Make sure your social buttons also allow users to share your website on their own social media accounts.
Prime accomodation Chamonix has a Twitter widget on their homepage so users know that they have social presence. If they ever interact with other users, it’ll also appear in this widget:
How to add social proof on your Lodgify website
Lodgify allows you to add all of these types of social proof! Just follow these simple steps:
Raw numbers: If you’re looking to showcase raw numbers, add them to your homepage description, make the fonts bigger or use bold to make them stand out. You can also add figures next to the email subscription widget.
FOMO Marketing: Create a promotion and include an urgency message in the description to make potential guests feel like they’ll miss out if they don’t take advantage of the offer immediately.
Social media: You can easily add social buttons by adding your social media links to your Lodgify page. You can also add a HTML widget of a Twitter or Facebook timeline so your potential guests see that you’re active on your social accounts.
Expert social proof: This one’s the trickiest but also the most creative. You can manually include images to your homepage and add quotes of their testimonials and link everything back to the source. But you can also create a custom page with a slideshow to showcase your press clippings and different testimonials.
It’s your turn to start taking advantage of social proof on your vacation rental website! Now that you’re familiar with the different kinds of social proof and several strategies to use them to get more bookings, let’s put it into practice.
We recommend to pick at least one or two types of social proof and add it to your website. Track how these strategies affect your conversion rates and come back to find the next strategy to apply.
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