The testimony of a satisfied customer is a precious asset for any business and vacation rentals are no exception. Guest reviews are a great way to attract new renters. In the prospective renter’s mind they establish your credibility, enhance desirability, and may be the final hook for the renter to choose your vacation rental over a competitor.
Here are some guidelines for capturing testimonials while your guests are still basking in the afterglow of their vacation.
1) Ask Promptly
Contact your guests promptly after their stay (2-3 days) and ask for feedback. While you can’t control the feedback you receive, remember that happy customers tend to enjoy sharing their experiences and are far more likely to respond than those feeling less enthusiastic. If you haven’t heard back in a few days, send a reminder email.
2) Be Open
Of course, you want to post ringing endorsements on your website, but remember that criticism and negative feedback can be valuable as well. In your solicitation indicate that you are open to constructive feedback so you can provide the best possible guest experience.
3) Make It User Friendly
The easier it is to give feedback, the more likely your renters will participate. Here’s a few ways to solicit reviews:
Use a Feedback Form or Survey
Make it easy for your guests by soliciting feedback with a series of questions or rating scales. You can then try to capture those juicy quotes you’re hoping for with an open comment field at the end. Since surveys don’t typically have high response rates, keep the number of questions short and let them know how long it will take.
* Example – We’d love to hear your feedback. 4 questions, 2 minutes.
Even if you provide a link to a form or survey in your email, guests might just end up hitting the “reply” button anyway. Make sure the reply address is set to a monitored email (don’t use a noreply@… email). While the responses will be less structured, getting the feedback is more important than not getting it at all.
Create an Online Guestbook
Create a personal touch by offering a guest log for comments on your website. This will give travelers another channel to offer feedback. Many will enjoy the opportunity to read through and compare their comments to previous guests’. While your guests will appreciate the experience of contributing to an online community and a sharing the review process, you will still have quality control over which feedback is visible.
Use Social Media
If you think the renter is preferential to social media rather than email, send them a Facebook message and ask for feedback on your wall. They’ll either need to have “liked” your vacation rental Page or be a “friend” in order for you to send them a message.
Encourage Reviews on 3rd Party Websites
If other guests have already started leaving you reviews on 3rd party websites, such as TripAdvisor and Yelp, encourage others to add reviews to boost your rating. These peer-to-peer reviews offer peace of mind to the renter that they are reading reviews from other travelers – not just taking the owner’s word for it.
In addition, if the renter found you through a specific channel that offers reviews send them a link to the review section of that website. This will help build your presence on websites and listing services that are already working for you.
4) Follow Up
It’s not only important to thank positive reviewers individually but in the case of rave reviews it’s a good idea to try to foster an ongoing relationship with your customer (perhaps offer incentives for a return trip or even solicit suggestions for improvements). These people are your brand ambassadors and can be vital resources for growing your business. Of course, this will also help you establish a rapport with potential repeat customers.