Creating an engaging and effective guest satisfaction survey (Vacation Rental edition)

Aug 14 2022

Get tips on how to use Hostfully to optimize your vacation rental business and make more profit.


What’s in this article?

“Customer satisfaction provides a leading indicator of consumer purchase intentions and loyalty.” – Marketing Metrics

Guest feedback is king, and reviews help drive your property’s rankings on vacation rental sites. While reviews are great and often provide insight about your guests’ overall experience, you may feel like you need more feedback than a simple review can provide. That’s where a guest satisfaction survey comes into play.

Today we’re here to explain how to create a survey carefully designed to gauge more insight so you can improve the guest experience, strengthen relationships and build loyalty. Let’s get started.

What is a guest experience survey?

A guest experience survey is a set of questions specifically designed to elicit feedback from your guests. A questionnaire is a helpful tool for any business owner, and the vacation rental business is no different. You’ll be able to gain valuable insight into your guests’ feelings, satisfaction levels, and thoughts about your property and their experience. In the end, this will help you create an even better experience for future guests. Experience surveys allows companies to improve strategically, optimize user experience and supply exactly what the market demands.

Benefits of conducting guest satisfaction surveys

Whether positive or negative feedback, all reactions are essential for successfully running a vacation rental business. According to 1 Financial Training Services, up to 96% of unsatisfied customers do not complain. Worse yet, up to 91% of unsatisfied customers simply leave and don’t ever come back!

These guest experience surveys allow your guests to be truly heard. Thy help you understand what your guests actually want and what you can do to improve. They build a powerful relationship that is strengthened by communication and the willingness to listen to feedback. Guests who feel heard will often become repeat guests.

Gain valuable feedback

The primary reason people ask for customer input is to get feedback about what they’re doing. The questions you ask should be specific enough that you’re getting information about the particular aspects of your rental you have questions about. For example: what did your guests think of the beds and pillow options? Did they enjoy the location? What more could you have done to make them feel at home?

Determine your priorities

We all know that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was the perfect vacation rental. In all likelihood, you will formulate a “punch list” of aspects you want to improve about your rental. Your customer’s feedback can help highlight where you should focus your attention first. This is helpful because sometimes, what you think your guests like might be completely different from the actual guest expectations and thoughts.

Track changes in feedback

As you make changes, you’ll want feedback on those changes. Your surveys can offer feedback as to how your guests receive the changes. If the feedback seems to decline, you’ll want to make different changes. On the other hand, if the feedback improves, you’re on the right path.

Identify trends

After you have a property performing well, you should continue to do surveys. Why? It will help you stay on top of changing trends and expectations of your guests. This way, you can stay up to date on what people expect from their stay. It’s a great way to ensure you don’t get lost in the dust.

Gain an edge over the competition

As an owner of a vacation property, getting honest feedback from your guests needs to be high up on your priority list. Guest experience surveys are an important tool in your small business toolbelt.


The only way you’re going to edge out the competition or stand out from the crowd is by delivering what your guests want and then by going above and beyond.

Get repeat guests

Repeat guests don’t just happen. Repeat guests come from listening to your guests’ feedback and making swift changes to make improvements. When your guests feel heard and respected, they’ll be back.

Guest experience survey types

When you begin putting together your guest experience survey, it will be helpful to know what types of questions you can ask. Here are four types of questions that will provide you with valuable information about your guests’ experience.

Multiple choice

For these types of questions, your question has a limited number of responses, typically three to five. The answers are easily tabulated to get a good understanding of your guests’ feedback.

For example:

How would you rate your stay?

1) Terrible

2) A little rough

3) Ok

4) Pretty good

5) Outstanding


Demographic questions ask basic questions like age, gender, number of children, etc. This can give you a better understanding of where your guests are coming from when they answer your questions. Some example questions may be: How old are you? What gender do you identify as? How many children stayed with you? Where did you travel from?


Open-ended questions give your customer the room to respond to questions with whatever words they wish. Unfortunately, these tend to take a long time to answer and glean information from. Quick analysis is difficult with these as well. However, the insight you gain can be really valuable. Be sure you have some of these in your survey, but don’t add too many in.


You can end with a question that creates a longer-term relationship and an ability to respond to their feedback. Consider something like: If you feel comfortable, please drop your email so we can respond to your feedback.

How to create a Guest Experience Survey

To begin, there are only 5 things you really need to focus on to conduct a meaningful guest experience survey.

Take note of what type of info you’d like to gain

First, start by taking notes on the type of information you’d like to learn from your guests.

Did they like the amenities? Was there something you didn’t do? What services do they feel were missing? How was customer service and responsiveness? What did they enjoy most about their stay? And the list goes on. Write those points down!

Draft a few questions

Brainstorm a few simple questions that will get you to the answers you’d like to know. Keep in mind that you’re not writing an in-depth white paper. Instead, all you need is an easy way to get people to respond and share ideas for improvement or what you’re hitting out of the park. Or, not!

Keep short and simple

Keep these guest experience survey questions short, direct and simple. Too long and the reader gets bored.

Use technology

To use technology to your advantage and get faster results, take advantage of free online survey programs which can be put together and emailed out quickly to your guests. This can be a simple Google Form or something more sophisticated like SurveyNuts or SurveyMonkey.

Send a thank you email

By writing a good subject line in your email, such as, “Thank You for Staying with Us,” guests will appreciate your acknowledgment of their business. A “thank you” email also increases the odds of a guest opening and responding to the guest experience survey.

Or, you can go the old-school way and leave a physical copy of your survey in your rental property. Then, incentivize responses by offering a drawing for a free night’s stay. Or a gift card to your favorite local hotspot. 

How long should it be?

Keep in mind that your guest has a life to which they will need to get back. So you don’t want to take more than a few minutes of their time. Be sure your survey is long enough that your guest has been heard, but not so long that they get bored. Maybe 10 – 15 questions is a great amount. 

There’s no need to start from scratch

To save time and still get the valuable feedback you’re looking for, copy and then tweak examples or templates of existing guest experience surveys.

You can always borrow a couple of ideas from one and add a couple of questions from another to come up with your own unique version of a survey. Another good resource to find a starting-point template is to borrow survey ideas from hotels that follow up with their guests.

Let’s face it. Hotels have been around forever, and they know how important it is to keep their customers happy. So use the templates found on the “go to” websites that hotels use and scale down to a vacation property model.

Another great resource for creating a successful guest experience survey can be found in forums. Several forum threads offer insightful conversations that other vacation property owners are asking and might just trigger some great content for you to use.

Remember to keep the goal of the guest experience survey planted firmly in your mind while you are tweaking and modifying existing samples. If you are more interested in getting guests to come back again or attracting grassroots word-of-mouth recommendations, understand the result before you begin. To make it easy for you, we’ve created a list of questions you can take here.

Be prepared to act on suggestions 

Pay attention to the positive feedback

It’s always nice to get those positive, glowing comments about your guests’ visit. When you keep hearing comments about the things that you’re doing right, serve up more of the same. Sometimes, seemingly small details make a big impression on your guests.

A welcome basket on the dining room table, a deck of cards, a bottle opener hanging on the fridge or fresh flowers in the living room. These little things can add up to more positive feedback on a guest experience survey.

Pay more attention to the negative feedback

One of the worst-case scenarios is that your guests are unhappy, and you don’t know why. This is the famous “unknown unknown” that can plague any well-intentioned vacation rental business. Of course, you don’t know what you don’t know. So be purposeful in knowing!

Not only will you not get repeat customers, but unhappy customers may very well go on to share their negative experiences with others. According to a White House Office of Consumer Affairs study, a dissatisfied customer will share a negative experience with anywhere between 9-15 people. Additionally, approximately 13% of unhappy guests will share their negative comments with 20 or more people.

That’s a scary figure for any business owner!

It is so important to know how to meet and exceed your guests’ expectations. The only way you can do this is by knowing what the issues or problems are in the first place through some kind of guest experience survey or discussion with your guest. Face-to-face chats can be great; however, we know that most people won’t articulate issues they faced to avoid confrontation.

A guest experience survey makes feedback more impersonal and means that you are more likely to get the truth.

A gentle suggestion or constructive criticism will be your greatest guide to improvement. So welcome the negative feedback on a guest experience survey without taking it personally, so you can do what you need to do to correct these areas in the future. After all, your business truly depends on it.

Take away

If you receive feedback and do nothing with the information, what is the point? Don’t be afraid to jump right in and take corrective action on those things that need improvement.

Whether adding a few more amenities or paying more attention to details, the action you take towards improvement will be handsomely rewarded down the road.

And, it all starts with the valuable feedback you get from a guest experience survey.