Guest reviews for your vacation rental and your responses to those reviews can have a significant impact on bookings and revenue.
Reviews have power and influence. How many times have you checked Yelp to see what others are saying about that new restaurant or Google to see how others are rating a new product that’s on your radar?
The Pew Research Group reports that more than 90-percent of Americans read customer reviews and ratings when deciding whether or not to buy a product or service for the first time.
Finding Guest Reviews
It’s easy to find guest reviews for hotels, resorts, and vacation hotspots through a quick Google search, and sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. At Airbnb, where you can also find several Casago rentals, you’ll see reviews listed on each property. These guest-written reviews can help give an idea about how ideal the property may be for others, including personal opinions about the comfort of the bed, cleanliness of the home, ease of communication with the host, and even insight into the surrounding area.
As a guest or a potential vacation rental owner, there are many places to find reviews that can give you insight into what guests like and dislike. A few of the top choices to find reviews include but are not limited to:
- Google (70-percent of consumers use Google reviews)
- Yelp and TripAdvisor
- Casago, Airbnb, and other actual rental sites
- Social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and even Pinterest
Social media sites have rocketed to become one of the most popular ways to discover the pros and cons of vacation venues and destinations. Guests can check out the social media account of a hotel, resort, Airbnb, or destination. They can read through the comments of other guests and get a feel for their experiences. A search on any social media site will help you find hashtags that quickly introduce you to the reviews and opinions of other guests and even the responses from the business and hosts.
Reasons Why Guest Reviews Matter
Guest reviews matter because they have the potential to increase both bookings and revenue for your vacation rental. Vacation rentals are like any other business or product. You can advertise its availability, share pictures extensively on social media, and offer a rental in a sought-after location with a great price and desirable amenities—and still fail. Guest reviews have the power to help tip the scales in your favor.
On average, consumers will choose a product or service that has favorable reviews posted by other buyers/users. While we often still rely on some word-of-mouth from friends and family, online reviews typically are the go-to for most guests looking to book a vacation rental.
The Spiegel Research Center at Northwestern University has conducted extensive studies regarding how online reviews shape customer behavior. Their data revealed that by displaying reviews, a business can increase conversion by 270-percent. It also showed that reviews have a stronger influence on “high-consideration” purchases. For many, booking vacations and even short getaways fall into a high-consideration category. It’s typically not a decision made lightly.
Host Responses to Guest Reviews Make a Difference
Guests are not only looking at what other guests have to say about a vacation rental, they also want to know more about the host. Host responses to guest reviews provide important insight. If a host responds with hostility to a negative review or is flippant regarding issues expressed, potential guests are likely to bypass that property and choose another.
In a survey conducted by Podium, more than half of the respondents stated their perspective could be changed based on the way a business responded to a customer review. In addition, nearly 95-percent of consumers will avoid a business with a bad review (Findstack). That number can increase when the host or business fires back a hostile or negative response to the bad review.
How to Respond to Guest Reviews
While research has shown that responding to reviews can help increase revenue, it can be hard for a host to know what to say. Positive guest reviews are often easier because you can write a quick, cheery response. The response may be something like:
- We’re so glad you enjoyed your stay! We loved having you and look forward to another visit.
- Happy to hear you had a great time! Come back again—our summer season has even more to offer, with tons of water activities and outdoor fun.
When the review is good but contains one concern, your response should always address that concern, even if you’ve already dealt with it through private emails or phone calls. For example:
- Thanks again for choosing our home for your vacation! We’re glad that overall you had a great time and we appreciated your patience while we addressed the plumbing issue.
Bad reviews can be more tricky, but you shouldn’t ignore them. Experts always recommend leaving the bad reviews in place because guests don’t always trust hosts if there are only glowing reviews to be seen. Tips for dealing with bad reviews include:
- Respond timely, within 24-hours when possible.
- Thank the customer for taking the time to bring the issue/their experience to your attention.
- Apologize for not meeting the guests’ expectations, even if the issue was something that was beyond your control as a host.
- In your response, always address the concern/issue specifically by name. This helps the guest know their concerns are truly being heard.
- Never make up excuses.
- Show and tell the guest how you will address the issue now and for future guests (if possible).
- Don’t blame the guest, even if the issue might have been their fault. This makes you as the host look bad and can be a turn-off to other guests.
- Keep the overall response as brief as possible.
Increasing Guest Reviews
It’s not uncommon for consumers in general to gravitate towards listings with a higher number of reviews. Some studies have even shown that a business with at least 200 reviews typically generates twice as much revenue as a similar business with fewer reviews. So how do you increase your guest reviews?
Asking for a review is still the best way to get one. If you don’t ask, it’s likely the guest won’t leave one unless they have a complaint. Send at least one follow-up. That follow-up could be as simple as, “Hi! We appreciate your stay and would love it if you could leave us a review letting us know how we did. Thanks!”
Make it easy for guests to leave reviews. The easier it is, the more apt the guest is to take the time to write a few words, usually positive.
Ways to Improve Your Guest Reviews and Ratings
The best way to improve your guest reviews and ratings is to continue to strive for outstanding service and by providing a clean, welcoming, and comfortable vacation rental. Guests always want transparency and communication. Timely responses to calls, texts, or emails are essential. Acknowledge and address any concerns your guests have. Go the extra mile and check-in with the guest prior to arrival to see if there are any last minute details that may need to be addressed. Make sure they know how and who to contact if something does go wrong during their stay, and with Casago, our concierge service can be available for that additional level of guest contentment.
Our era of online connectivity, smart technology, social networks, and digital marketing isn’t likely to disappear any time soon. Guest reviews have become and will continue to be an integral part of marketing a vacation rental. Guest reviews do matter, and hosts’ responses to those reviews are just as important.
Whether your vacation rental is a U.S. destination like Sun Valley and Big Bear or outside the country in a hotspot like Cancun, Casago can be trusted for rated properties reviewed by guests just like you. Ready to book a vacation? Check out our wide selection of destinations and properties.