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Vacation Rental Reviews: How to Optimize Feedback

How much do reviews really matter when it comes to getting bookings? Simply put, they can make or break a vacation rental. Even a beautiful property with popular amenities will lose potential guests if it receives too many negative reviews or has no reviews at all.

Booking a vacation rental is often a large expense for the average guest. With that in mind, most travelers are very careful when choosing a property. Prospective renters want to read reviews of your home from past guests to reassure them that the home is depicted accurately. They also want to see what previous guests have liked and disliked about a property. Essentially, reviews are the backbone of your listing. 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.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to to maximize guest feedback.

Ask for Reviews

As mentioned before, a lack of reviews can be just as harmful as negative reviews. Travelers don’t want to book a property blindly. They seek reassurance from other travelers that your property is clean, comfortable, and safe. This is why politely asking your guests for a review is a necessity, especially when your property is just starting out. With multiple listing sites, keeping on top of review requests and responses can be somewhat time consuming, but will certainly pay off in the long run. Here at Rental Advisor, we request feedback from all guests and respond professionally to all reviews, both positive and negative.

Turn Negatives into Positives

Fortunately, a negative review or two doesn’t always have to mean that your property will not thrive. Sometimes guests don’t have a good experience despite all your efforts, in which case a thoughtful and strategic response can truly make a difference. You can turn some negatives into positives with the right message. The key is to refrain from responding in an emotionally charged way. It’s always best to respond in a logical, polite manner no matter how scathing the review may be. Start with an apology that addresses their complaint and then calmly address the complaint. In some cases you may need to accept fault, sincerely apologize, and then address what you are going to do or have done to fix the situation. If the issue is big enough (the property wasn’t clean, something major was broken, etc) you may need to offer a partial or full refund and an apology gift. In other cases, you may have a guest who finds fault in even the most immaculate rental. In these circumstances, let them know that you are aware of their concerns and politely address their complaints. Tactfully stand up for the truth when needed so that potential guests will understand the situation.

Respond to All Reviews

Negative reviews aren’t the only ones that can benefit from a reply. Responding to positive reviews with something as simple as “Thank you for your review. We’re so glad you enjoyed your stay,” can go a long way toward being seen as a friendly and responsive host. Not only will this help to attract repeat guests, but can appeal to potential guests as well.

Make Needed Changes

Reviews can be a great indicator of what your property really needs to succeed. Have you had a few complaints about your beds being too hard? Or have you gotten comments about your kitchen being too sparse? Maybe it's time to get new mattresses or add some more cookware to your kitchen. If you take the feedback and use it to make improvements, it's a win-win for both you and your guests.

Prevent Negative Reviews

Though you can’t always stave off negative reviews, there are ways you can prevent many of them. See our list of common guest complaints and how to stop them before they even start.

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