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10 Things you need to know about online vacation rental reviews.

Whenever I look at various  vacation rental owners forums they are abuzz with owners talking about or complaining about online guest reviews.

Some owners appear to be borderline paranoid about them. Some don’t seem to think that guests could or should have an opinion about what they get for their money.

Some go as far as including anti-disparaging clauses into their contracts, although these may be hard to enforce.

Anyway I thought that maybe I should throw a few facts into the ring…

1. 49% of travellers’ won’t book without them.

That’s huge.

Let’s put it this way, If you don’t have online guest reviews you are reducing your bookings by 50%.

Half of the people that may book with you won’t! Now that’s a damn sight more costly than a bad review.

You have to be madder than a mad guest not to include reviews with your listings.

2. Over 90% of reviews are good reviews

That’s right. For some reason owners seem to focus on bad reviews but the vast majority of customer reviews are positive.

So if you are Mr and Mrs Average when it comes to receiving reviews you would still get 9 positive reviews to every one bad review.

That’s still a high batting average.

3. The things guests like to rave about.

Things guests like the most (and mention in reviews) are,

  • Great service
  • Great location
  • Good room
  • Clean room and/or hotel
  • Good, affordable price
  • Good bed
  • Nice view

This information is from hotel reviews but you can bet your bottom dollar that it applies to holiday lets in the same way.

4. Misconception number 1

It’s a misconception that you can’t trust the reviews.

TripAdvisor has had 60 million unique visitors to the site year to date in 2012 and there are more than 75 million reviews on the site.

The truth is bound to shine through when considering that kind of volume. “More reviews, more accurate”.

Now those figures may well be far less in the vacation rental business but they are increasing at a very fast rate and the same applies,

“More reviews, more accurate”.

5. Misconception number 2

It’s not true that the only people who post are people who want to complain.

The average score of a hotel on TripAdvisor is 4.01 out of 5 “People are happy.”

“People around the world are eager to share positive experiences.”

Give them a positive experience and they will share it.

6. It’s no good buying positive reviews or faking them.

In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission determined paying for positive reviews without disclosing the reviewer had been compensated equates to deceptive advertising and would be prosecuted as such.

So keep well away from the dark side here or it could well bite you in the ass at a later date.

Also, predictions show that fraudulent social-media ratings and reviews will comprise 10 to 15 percent of all such reviews by 2014 — compared to 2 and 6 percent now.

So it would seem that the various governing bodies will be paying more attention to this subject in the coming years.

7. Top complaints

Here’s a list of what travellers’ complain about the most,

  • Unprofessional or incompetent service
  • Small rooms
  • Expensive or overpriced
  • Dirty rooms
  • Unfriendly service
  • Bad bathrooms

I think that it’s best to look at this list and treat it as a primer,

The lesson being, if you, and those representing you, are friendly and professional and you offer value for money and what you have to offer is clean and tidy, you can vastly decrease the chances of a bad review.

8. 50 reviews submitted a minute.

Christine Petersen, president of TripAdvisor for Business says

There are 50 reviews submitted to TripAdvisor every minute. That’s far too much volume to authenticate each and every review, she said. Secondly, Petersen said the company wants to provide as little interference as possible during the review process.

This thinking applies to the vacation rental listings companies too. Why would they want to interfere with the review process? It would cost them a lot in the way of manpower if nothing else.

With these numbers being published every minute only a fool will try to buck this trend. Get on board the review band wagon now before it’s too late to catch up.
Potential guests can now search “by review” – those properties with the most reviews are shown at the top of the listing.

9. Deal with negative reviews positively .

I read this great advice on dealing with bad reviews on caller.com

Follow up on all complaints and be very proactive. Don’t be defensive. Listen to the customer’s complaint. If you agree the complaint is legitimate, tell the customer the action you will take to prevent recurrence. Offer compensation like a refund or a discount coupon on next purchase. Thank the customer for their input. Even if you think the complaint is not legitimate, consider offering compensation.

Recognize complaints are often based on emotion and hurt feelings rather than fact. Don’t try to convince the customers you are right and they are wrong. Remember, your response will be seen by other customers and this is your chance to be reasonable and accommodating even if the customer is not.

You can read the whole article here


10. You are in control of nearly all the reviews that you receive.

That’s right. If you work with these three guidelines you will rarely, if at all, get a bad review.

1. Be of the mindset – The customer is always right.

2. Deliver – Prompt, polite, professional, customer service at all times.

3. Always – Under promise, and over deliver.

I have written a guide for getting 5 star guest reviews, week in, week out. It is priced at only $8.99 and you can see more details here.

The guide has over 40 pages packed with professional tips and tricks that ensure great reviews each and every time.

Maybe your competition are reading it right now.

Here’s the vacation rental review takeaway

vacation rental review takeaway

Like it or not, online customer reviews are here to stay.

They are already part of the system and you can’t buck the system.

There is no point moaning about them, that’s just a waste of time.

Look at yourself as a review farmer. Seed and nurture positive reviews. Harvest and reap the rewards.

What do you do?

I hope that you found this article on online guest reviews useful.
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4 thoughts on “10 Things You Need To Know About Online Reviews

  1. Lorraine says:

    I have found a unique problem with reviews. I have two homeaway ads. One for each of the properties that I own.

    I have renters who have come to our condos for many years. I have asked before for a review and they have never written one. Perplexed by this, because obviously they enjoy our condos or would not come back as often, I got a little insight into their feelings by a comment one of them said in an email to me.

    They brought friends one year. The next their friends booked. Their friends then brought another friend and now that friend books as well. So from the one renter I have three families who regularly book with me throughout the year. I have never asked why they haven’t written a review as I believe it is their right as to whether or not they want to do that; however, this year when the second in the line of three emailed me to say what a wonderful time they had and said that her friend will probably be making reservations from now on as well, her next comment was “I guess that means more competition for dates”.

    Some of the most satisfied people won’t write reviews as it makes it more difficult for them to get the weeks they want if they are competing with a multitude of others looking for the same condo.

  2. Plus a not-so-good review in a list of good ones will give credibility to all of the reviews.

    Lorraine, I post my guestbook reviews on the VRBO site. You could do the same with your emails or guestbook entries. (No first names though) http://www.vrbo.com/264720.

    I wasn’t too keen about posting the one review with the 75 mph winds, but I know that it will add credibility that I am posting all of the write-up and in that light, it’s pretty darn good. 🙂

    1. Caty Carlin says:

      Great post. For years I did not include guest comments, and yet had a slew of them in a book that I provided in the cabin. I began posting the comments from the book, and it really seemed to help traffic to my vrbo listing as well as bookings. I am considering doing video testimonials from guests and rewarding them with a free night, or a discount in exchange for their permission to post their testimonial. Onward we go!
      Caty Carlin
      Asheville cabin VRBO 104346

      1. Alan Egan says:

        The video testimonials is a brilliant idea. I can think of no better way to instil trust in potential guests. Go for it.

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