As many as 93% of consumers report that reviews influence their online buying decisions. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the vacation rental industry follows the same trend. After all, no one would book a rental without reviews. Therefore, securing online reviews and good guest feedback plays a vital role in the marketing strategy for your vacation rental. These reviews can help increase high-quality bookings as well as boost revenues. So let’s take a closer look at why these reviews are essential, how you as an Airbnb host can encourage reviews, and we’ll also even discuss a few things you shouldn’t do.
Why reviews for vacation rentals are so importantThere’s also a lot of psychology that goes into online reviews, namely, something called social proof. This happens when someone is influenced to do something based on what they see others do. When it comes to vacation rental reviews, it’s pretty simple. When potential guests see that others enjoyed your vacation rental property, they’ll assume that they will too. Christophe Salmon of Revyoos (an industry-leading review management app) puts it in simpler terms: “Your reviews are the golden nuggets of your business, and their impact in terms of generating trust, increasing your SEO, and boosting your bookings on your own website is huge.” Christophe adds that these reviews must be genuine and verified (more on that later in this article).
Reviews increase bookingsReviews play a vital role as you look to increase your bookings. Let’s take a look at the numbers. TripAdvisor discusses a study from PhoCusWright, which shows that 83% of participants explained that reviews helped them choose the right place to stay. In addition, 53% said they would not book someplace without reading reviews first. And an astounding 80% of travelers said they would read between 6 and 12 reviews before booking. In each of these cases, reviews helped drive bookings.
Reviews build trustThat social proof also does something else very important: it helps your potential guests feel comfortable and trusting of your services. People need to feel safe as they make their bookings, and if you have reviews showing that you create a safe space and are, therefore, trustworthy, you’ll be able to earn more bookings.
Reviews help improve your businessOverall, these reviews will help you improve your business and the service you provide. In addition, these reviews will highlight the extra special features of your rental which will only help you earn more bookings. Good reviews also validate that the host is doing something right. This gives hosts more leeway to charge a higher price per night. After all, if an expensive rental keeps getting great reviews, it has to be worth it, right? Then there are bad reviews. These aren’t necessarily bad if you handle them right. Bad reviews are also a great way for a host to evaluate their performance, filling the gaps where needed to improve the next guest’s stay. Just know that OTAs like Airbnb, Expedia, Vrbo, and Booking.com use your reviews to determine your property listing’s visibility in their search engine results. The more positive your reviews, the more front and center you become. Websites value social proof too. So, as you build your platform, be sure to include reviews as a central piece of your process. These reviews can become powerful marketing tools, and you really don’t have to put much effort into getting them at all.
The first step to 5-star reviews is… being open to feedbackIn the beginning, your goal should be to get any kind of feedback. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be 5-stars across the board! When you first start out, the first few reviews serve more to show potential guests a few things:
- Others thought the rental was somewhat worth staying in.
- The previous renters were generally satisfied with their experience.
- If there were issues, you corrected them.
- The rental is not a scam or a fake listing.
The second step to 5-star reviews is… offer an amazing guest experienceWhether you have had an active vacation rental for five years or two days, it always pays off to ensure your guests have an incredible experience. You can do several thoughtful things that will show your guests that you care about them and want to help them have the best stay ever. Consider some of these special touches:
- Offer a digital guidebook with everything your guest needs to know from check-in to check-out at your vacation home. Hostfully offers an incredibly convenient platform on which to host your guidebook. Your guests will love this extra touch.
- Offer a welcome basket full of local goodies.
- Be sure you have a fridge stocked with essentials like milk, eggs, and common condiments.
- Put out fresh, local flowers on the dining table.
- Stock your bathrooms with plush bathrobes and special toiletries.