When it comes to convincing travelers that your vacation home is every bit as wonderful as you say it is, reviews from past guests are one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal. In fact, we have found that listings with just one review on VRBO.com receive about 20% more inquiries than those with no reviews. Guest reviews add valuable credibility to your listing that can go a long way with travelers, especially those new to vacation rentals. In competitive rental markets, reviews can also help distinguish your property from the next. Today, on HomeAway.com, VRBO.com and VacationRentals.com, travelers have the option of sorting their search results by number of reviews, so the properties with the most reviews appear first.
How Do Reviews Work?
Your guests can review your rental within one year of their stay by visiting your listing and clicking Write a Review at the top of the page. You may also request a review from past guests using the Reviews link within your Dashboard, then clicking on Solicit a Review. HomeAway’s moderation team goes over every review to ensure that it is in compliance with our guidelines. When the review is approved, you will receive an email notification with a link to post an optional Owner Response.
You can also visit your dashboard and click View Reviews to see all of your approved Reviews and post an Owner Response. An Owner Response is a fantastic way to thank your guests, offer tips, acknowledge comments and highlight the advantages of your listing. Your responsiveness can build instant trust and credibility with potential renters.
Reviews are displayed on a property listing in chronological order, with the most recently submitted review on top. Below the listing page displaying the most recent reviews, the listing will have a "View all reviews" link. Once a traveler clicks on that link, they will be able to view ALL reviews for that rental.
How to Get More Reviews
We spoke to several vacation rental owners who've shown a knack for getting their guests to post reviews. We rounded up their best advice below.
Recognize that positive reviews generate more positive reviews
“Guests have told me they definitely feel better renting from a private homeowner having read other guests positive experiences, and I've found that the guests who mention they booked because of the online comments generally turn out to be my best renters. They've done their research and are looking for a great experience. And if the guest has a great experience, they are going to be most appreciative and more than willing to comment in our online guestbook.”
–Debbie Tarca (VRBO #82395, 103 reviews and counting)
Mention your reviews from your very first interaction with a potential guest
“When responding to inquiries, we always mention our reviews, and provide a link to them in our response letter. I also use it as a closing tool. When someone has expressed an interest in our property, we also remind them to check out our guestbook. This lets them know that we consider this important to our business. Someone told me once that the longer you can keep a potential customer on your website, the greater the odds of booking. The guestbook is great at that. When someone emails me that they are considering several properties, I direct them to our guestbook which gives us an extra ‘push' in that kind of situation.”
–Steve Jirucha (VRBO #34149, 98 reviews and counting)
Establish a personal connection
“We meet every guest when they arrive and get them comfortably settled. Then, when they check-out we help them with their bags and say goodbye to them. We feel that the ‘personal touch' is most important when dealing with our guests. When our guests leave we always ask them for feedback about their stay with us and then we e-mail them a thank you letter, which always contains a link to the guestbook for the property in which they've stayed. Most guests are happy to enter a comment.”
–Steve and Trish Young (HomeAway #131703, 46 reviews and counting)
Don't forget to show your appreciation
“If a comment is entered or a suggestion is given, I always e-mail a thank you. I also do a hand-written thank you note to everyone whose refund is going back by check. This all takes some extra time, but I think it's worth it. I have two separate groups who have each rented 12 and 14 times, respectively.”
–Ellen Dour (HomeAway # 131137, 55 reviews and counting)
For more information about reviews, check out these helpful links:
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