The Importance of Reviews

Source: Flickr user Paolo Camera
Source: Flickr user Paolo Camera

When you’re making a purchase online, do you read user reviews before making a decision? If you are like the majority of online buyers, you probably do. Whether it’s a new smartphone case or a new car, it just makes sense that you would want to know what you’re getting. Nearly every online marketplace offers people the opportunity to post product reviews, and checking out those reviews is now just a standard part of being an informed consumer.

Just like everything else online, vacation rentals rely heavily on user reviews. In fact, reviews are probably more important to vacation rentals as a source of advertising than most other products you can think of. First of all, people want to know that your vacation rental is not a scam and that what they see is what they’re going to get. Secondly, hearing about the great times previous guests have had makes it easier to spend a significant amount of money on something they’re not going to see in person until they arrive.

All the great photographs and glowing descriptions in the world will not have as much impact on your vacation rental as the heartfelt endorsements of people who have had wonderful experiences at your property. A recent survey by TripAdvisor found that travelers are 80% more likely to book a vacation rental listing that includes guest reviews. Obviously the more reviews you have, the better, but Homeaway and VRBO advise that you try to have at least 12 reviews for the highest Listing Quality Score.

Getting guests to leave reviews on your listing can be a challenge, but it is worth the effort. Vacation Rental Marketing Blog founder Matt Landau found that soliciting reviews is the most cost-effective ways to generate more bookings. Sending a guest an email, or even a handwritten note, inquiring how their stay went is an excellent way to generate feedback. If they had a positive experience, it is a good opportunity to politely ask them to leave a review. One method we have found to be highly effective is to send each of our past guests a survey using SurveyMonkey. We get the valuable feedback we need and are able to ask guests who enjoyed their stay to post a review. If a guest did not have a good experience, the survey gives them the chance to express their frustration without turning to the public forums.

Getting a bad review is not the end of the world. It is just a fact of life that you cannot please everyone all of the time. The important thing to remember about a bad review is that it is just as important as a good review when it comes to showing that you care about your guests. Travelers will read the bad review, but they will also read your response. Always be courteous and professional, another TripAdvisor survey found that an aggressive or defensive manager response to a bad review would make 64% of travelers less likely to book. Instead, your response should include five parts: address their specific complaints, apologize for your mistakes, let them know what you’ve done to fix the problem, highlight the positive parts of their stay, and always invite them back!

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