How To Get More Reviews For Your Vacation Rental
13 July 2022 - 8 mins
13 July 2022 - 8 mins
Did you know 93% of people say that reviews impact their online buying decisions? Yes, 93%. It’s a lot.
This is even more important for larger purchases like holidays and vacation rentals. After all, no one wants to book accommodation only to find out it’s not as promised. It’s all about building trust and awareness.
So, securing great online reviews is vital for your holiday business. It should play a key role in your marketing, web presence and customer communications. Wondering how? Let’s explore some of the most effective strategies for increasing your vacation rental reviews.
Reviews are a fundamental part of a healthy holiday let business. And when it comes to consumer confidence, more really is, well, more.
If you’re providing a great service and a truly beautiful property, “real life” reviews help communicate this. They allow unique, personal insights into your offering and play a key role in increasing direct bookings. In essence, they provide credibility and prove you’re a real owner (with plenty of satisfied guests) that’s accountable and safe to book with.
People really pay attention to reviews. One study found 72% of new guests simply wouldn’t commit to a booking without reading reviews. They’re a massively useful form of marketing, letting you target people already actively searching for holiday homes. In addition, reviews improve your website’s SEO – meaning your property will rise up Google and large platform listings. This makes it more discoverable and leads to more bookings in turn. It’s a pretty virtuous circle.
Of course, feedback of any kind (whether positive or negative) will also help you improve your service and give guests a better experience.
Compare your reaction to someone singing their own praises, and a positive description from a friend or colleague. Which would you pay more attention to? Chances are, it’s the person speaking well of another… and it’s no different for online reviews and marketing.
So, what are the best ways to get more reviews and encourage direct bookings for your vacation rental business?
The very first thing to do is establish a relationship with the people booking your property. This is a two-way street, and as well as understanding who they are (and what they’re looking for on their vacation), it involves communicating your own history with the property.
When people understand there’s a “real” person that genuinely cares about providing a great service, and loves the place they're renting out, they’re more likely to connect emotionally. When you do ask for a review, it also means they’re more likely to respond positively.
Yes, you read that right. Don’t focus on reviews in the first instance.
This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s all about focusing on the service you’re providing. If people love your place and the way you’ve communicated with them, they’ll be more than happy to leave a positive review.
As part of providing an amazing guest experience, consider thoughtful personal touches such as local goodies, a welcome hamper, essentials in the fridge or flowers on the dining table. It all makes a difference.
Quite simply, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Whilst it’s important not to bombard guests with emails and requests for reviews, do ask them for reviews. This is best done in person, if possible.
With large booking platforms (and Rentalsystems booking tools), you’ll have the benefit of automated review prompts. It never hurts to follow-up personally, however. If you’re emailing, make sure this is short, friendly (thanking them for booking) and sent as soon after departure as possible. This ensures the holiday is still fresh in guests’ minds.
Make it super simple for guests to leave a review. People lead busy lives, and if leaving a review is more than a few clicks – they simply won’t do it. End of.
Why, where and how to do it should all be clear. If you’re emailing, this means including a link directly for leaving a review. You could also consider things like QR codes in the property or your guest book, reinforcing the idea of reviews during their stay.
Guests are usually more than happy to leave reviews. This might not always be at the forefront of their minds though. People are busy and may need a gentle nudge. To do this, use the personal relationship you’ve forged to judge what reminders are most appropriate or useful.
You could also consider visual prompts in the property itself, for instance in your welcome pack, entrance hall or noticeboard. If you’re talking to your guests about their upcoming stay, it’s also a great idea to prepare them (letting them know they’ll receive a follow-up email) which will jog their memory when the email arrives.
Building a personal relationship is essential for increasing online reviews. Guests may not realise how useful reviews are to your business – so don’t be scared to chat about it!
Just think, how did you respond the last time you were asked to leave a review? If it’s a generic, automated marketing message, you’re less likely to respond.
However, if it’s a real message from the ever-so-friendly and helpful small business-owner you’ve just met, this changes things. To ensure guests know it’s you, reference specific experiences (such as we’re so glad you got to use the bikes, or visit that nearby beach). This will also remind guests of the positive experiences they had… all great for mentioning in reviews.
If you’re still struggling to get reviews for your vacation rental, could you offer incentives in return for reviews?
This means weighing-up how much reviews are worth for you, but if you can combine this with other efforts towards securing direct bookings (for instance discounts on future stays) – it could be a win, win.
Just remember that you can’t offer rewards specifically in exchange for positive reviews. This has to be natural, with comments left entirely at guests’ discretion.
It’s great securing lots of positive reviews… but now it’s time to share them!
Some platforms allow you to upload reviews from other sources. For instance, if you receive an amazing review from Airbnb, you can add this to your Clickstay direct booking listing.
Use your best comments and make them visible across your entire online presence. This means short, pithy quotes on social media posts, google business listings, your website and any platform listings.
Reviews make particularly great social media posts. They increase engagement, build community, brand awareness and show guests you genuinely care.
Want to learn more?
Join the Rentalsystems Facebook group. It’s a unique community for sharing and discovering tips and strategies for increasing positive reviews and direct bookings with other vacation rental owners.