Survey Provides Insight into Guest Vacation Rental Reviews – and Their Persuasive Powers
How should independent vacation rental owners like ourselves set about getting more guest reviews? And how can we make the most of them?
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A TripAdvisor survey provides some excellent clues into getting good vacation rental reviews.
Positive vacation rental reviews: we all enjoy getting them. It’s one of the reasons we do this. But reviews are not simply about making us feel better – they are one of our most important marketing tools. Not only for attracting new guests, but as a means of exposing ourselves to constructive criticism that can help us improve what we offer.
So, I sat up sharply when I noticed news of a TripAdvisor online travel review guide based on a survey of more than 100,000 travelers and hospitality business owners. Especially as it promised ‘useful review writing tips’. We’re not for a moment suggesting you write your own vacation rental reviews. But if you did, this would be the perfect guide!
Guest vacation rental reviews are a powerful tool
According to Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer at TripAdvisor: ‘Reviews have become a powerful tool, as travelers around the world rely on reviews to help them plan and book their trips.’ Quoted by Nasdaq, she added: ‘In fact, more than half will not make a booking decision without reading reviews from others, and hospitality businesses are listening – 70% of businesses surveyed have taken steps to improve their quality of service thanks to reviews left by travelers.’
TripAdvisor, who bill themselves as the world’s largest travel site, claim to have ‘more than 200 million reviews and opinions’. So when they say anything at all about reviews, it could pay for us to listen.
They have a very good handle on what works in a review when it comes to persuading guests to book. And we can benefit if we use these tips when compiling our own requests for vacation rental reviews or guest questionnaires.
Reviews should be factual, detailed and recent
Among their findings in the US, there are 3 important things travelers look for in a review. These are: that it concentrates on facts (61%), that it provides a lot of detail (53%) and that it’s about a recent experience (40%).
Taking the first item, ‘concentrate on facts’. Ask your guests some specific yes/no and multiple choice questions so the answers can be presented as facts. Follow up with open-ended questions such as ‘please explain…’ and ‘please elaborate on…’. So you might say: ‘Did your stay here: exceed expectations/meet expectations/fall short of your expectations?’
To help ensure their answers include ‘a lot of detail’, try to draw them out. Rather than just learning that they ‘loved the beach’, ask more probing questions such as: ‘What in particular did you like about it?’
Act on fair criticism in guest reviews
Finally, keep your vacation rental reviews up to date. If your best review is from several seasons ago, people visiting your site may get the impression that your place was good once but has passed its peak. And if that is your only strongly positive review then it may be a sign that you need to start changing things. As TripAdvisor say, a majority of businesses surveyed upped their game as result of critical reviews.
There’s some reassurance for independent vacation rental owners in the further findings of the survey. Apparently, 79% of travelers want to read a balanced view. Perhaps travelers do not give as much credence to the ranting style of some complainants as we think? Maybe they realise that if there’s one poor review among many positive ones it just suggests a bad apple? The complainer – not the rental owner.
Also, 72% say it’s important to provide the context for why the reviewer liked or disliked something. Here again, rather than only asking your guests if they liked or disliked something, probe for their reasoning. Maybe they just have a personal phobia not shared by many of your other guests! But if there is a wider truth in their criticism, you need to be listening and prepared to address the situation in so far as you can.
Unique review system for our subscribers
Here at Homes and Rooms, our subscribers benefit from a unique semi-automatic review system. This invites and follows up vacation rental reviews via email and enables guests to enter them online. The completed reviews are then presented for your approval to post them on your website. But we’re not so smug we imagine that is all there is to it.
Good vacation rental reviews are, as we have noted before on this blog, like gold dust and you need to gather as many as you can to give your marketing activities a cutting edge.