By now, it’s abundantly clear to most homeowners how critical guest reviews are to the success of renting their vacation rental homes. (See our recent infographic demonstrating the impact of guest reviews on booking success.) The goal is to get as many positive reviews posted as possible and to continue to get current, new ones each season. Why are they so important? Because they:
- build the trust and credibility so valuable to vacationers when doing business online
- provide significant, objective marketing value
- may improve the search order of your online listing
Here are some important tips to help you to significantly increase the number of positive guest reviews from your tenants and also reduce the likelihood of your receiving negative ones:
#1 – Communicate: Be communicative and accessible to your tenants before, during, and after their stay. Doing so prevents unnecessary misunderstandings and provides an important personal connection between you and them. You are no longer an anonymous business contact but the kind, solicitous person who owns and loves the home.
#2 – Be pro-active: Don’t assume your tenant will submit a review – ask them for one. Whether in person, by phone, by email, or using your listing’s Request Form feature – don’t be shy! Vacationers understand even better than homeowners the value of reviews and are often happy to write one.
#3 – Don’t delay: Strike while the iron’s hot, while the memories of their idyllic stay in your home are still fresh and compelling. Asking past tenants for feedback 6 months after they leave and in the middle of winter is less apt to meet with success. Build your request for feedback into your regular, post-rental procedure.
#4 – Make it easy for your tenants: By far the easiest way for vacationers to submit a guest review is by clicking a link in the Request Form email you send them right from your listing. This saves them from having to go to our website, search for your listing by ID number, and scroll down to the “Write a review” button. When they receive your email, they are already online and in a position to write something quickly. Although they may have the best of intentions when hearing from you by phone or in person, life gets in the way, and they often don’t get around to it.
#5 – Provide a spotless home: The most common complaint from vacationers is about cleanliness. Be sure to give your home a deep, thorough cleaning before the season starts, and maintain high standards of cleanliness at every turnover right until the end of the season, with no let-up. If possible, use a professional cleaner. Homeowners who hire professionals to do turnover cleaning rarely receive negative comments about lack of cleanliness.
#6 – De-humidify: A close second in the complaint department has to do with mustiness, dampness and mold issues. Although it’s virtually impossible for homes in a seaside community like the Cape and Islands to be dry and free from mildew, there are preventative measures you can take:
- get one or more de-humidifiers or window air conditioners
- remove unnecessary carpets or rugs
- keep the windows and doors open as much as possible
- remove trees near or around the house
- direct downspouts away from the foundation
#7 – Provide a bug-free home: Occasionally vacationers complain that the house was “infested” with bugs. We all know that a few bugs here and there hardly constitute an infestation and are to be expected in the summer. But it’s so inexpensive and easy to exterminate a house before the season starts, either by calling a professional exterminator or by simply using store-bought foggers and doing it yourself. This way, if someone complains, you can let them know that the house was treated before their arrival, but you would be happy to have it treated again.
#8 – Provide an accurate and conservative listing: It’s simple: don’t oversell and under-deliver. Although your listing should certainly highlight your property’s greatest assets, once someone expresses serious interest in your home, be sure that you point out any possible shortcomings or unusual features so that their expectations are managed properly and they are pleasantly surprised on their arrival. Read more about screening your tenants to assure a good fit.
#9 – Return the security deposit immediately: It’s their money – get it back to them right away. Homeowners often don’t realize how nervous vacationers get about the return of their security deposits. A family could have enjoyed a fabulous time in your home and been all set to write you a rave review, but, if they’ve had to wait overlong for their deposit, it could sour every bit of good will. Read more about security deposits.
#10 – Go above & beyond (often it’s the “little things”): Provide your tenants with plenty of paper products, soaps and detergents, and even some basic seasonings. Leave a welcome gift of some kind such as fresh flowers, a bottle of wine, candies, specialty coffees, etc. The few dollars you spend will be well worth it. Read more about welcoming your tenants and treating your tenants as guests.