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78495 Views 50 Replies Latest reply: Mar 6, 2014 2:47 PM by swlinphx RSS
sophie Senior Contributor 969 posts since
Mar 4, 2011
Currently Being Moderated

May 25, 2011 11:57 PM

Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

Do you have a guestbook for your guests to sign after they have stayed at your property?  What is your percentage of people who write comments in it?  I have people say wonderful things at check out or in emails but so many of them don't write in the book.  I keep it with the welcome book with a pen and ask people to sign it before they leave.  I don't know why so many people don't take a few minutes for a quick note.  Thoughts?

  • New Member 12 posts since
    May 25, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 27, 2011 2:34 PM (in response to sophie)
    Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

    Yes, we have a Guest Book at our cottage. In fact it is the first thing I check when I do the change over between rental groups. I would guesstimate that about half of the groups take the time to write something in the book.

     

    It's good to be able to look back and see what people have written about over the years. Some people have their children draw pictures of the cottage or of the animals they have seen or the places where they have been. We have a number of families that have been staying at the cottage for years. I am sure the kids get a kick out of seeing what they wrote about and the pictures they have drawn over the years. 

     

    I think we just have to accept that some people will take the time to write in the book and some people won't.

  • method Contributor 48 posts since
    Jun 15, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 17, 2011 5:31 PM (in response to sophie)
    Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

    Yup I have a guestbook as well. It's usually the first thing I head for when I check on the house between vacationers, the comments they leave bring a smile to my face when I see that the guests have enjoyed themselves .

     

    Like the posts above sometimes the people write sometimes they don't.

  • bend2011 Contributor 163 posts since
    Apr 28, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 2, 2011 7:03 PM (in response to sophie)
    Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

    I feel that the guest book is essential.  Not everyone signs it but I would say about 3/4 of folks do.

  • aznative Contributor 103 posts since
    Feb 8, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 2, 2011 9:40 PM (in response to sophie)
    Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

    We have a guest book too.  I tried to make it look fun.  I bought a spiral journal from Target that has ruled pages (and lots of them) but, contrary to my typical taste, it is white with neon green, pink and magenta polka dots all over it!  I made a sticker to match it in the same shape as the dots using MS Publisher, and Avery label stickers, and wrote a little blurb about "share your experiences - write about yourself - tell others about your favorite finds!"... we leave it in the kitchen on our bar counter near our House Info Book, and their packet of brochures.

     

    We put two sets of keys to the house and the garage door opener on top of it (we put each set of house and pool keys on one of those stretchy spiral wristband key chains in the same neon green color as the green polka dots on the guest book.) When we check people in and we get to that spot, we tell them, "Here are your keys... there are two sets..." etc. and then we segue into the guestbook that is underneath them.  We point it out, and spend a minute asking them to please write something in it before they leave, and we emphasize about how it's kinda nice for the next guests to read about a great restaurant that they enjoyed, or a particular attraction or side trip they took... in other words we emphasize to use it to write more for an experience that they would like to pass on to future guests to help them find fun things that THEY enjoyed.  We never ask them to write about the house, (but invariably they do say thank you.)  We also point out how years from now, when it gets a lot of entries in it, it will be fun for guests to look through it and see that someone from [Germany or somewhere exotic] or [their home town] stayed in the house.  After that comment, without exception, every guest has smiled and commented something like, "Oh, that would be fun!"

     

    Then, just before they check out we ask them to put one set of keys and the garage door opener back on the Guest Book, and leave the other set of keys [wherever we have arranged.] We also ask them nicely if they added anything to the Guest Book?  They either say Yes! or No, but we will!  We always enthusiastically say, "Oh great! Thank you!" I think that last exchange, without meaning to, rather commits then to put something in it.

     

    Albeit, we have only started renting this past January, but so far every guest, with the exception of one, has not only signed the Guest Book, but they have put in at least a full page of writing.  The one guest who did not sign it was here for surgery nearby, so I'm sure she didn't feel like writing! One family wrote three pages of notes about the house, things they did and enjoyed, and then their daughter added her own entry.  Like everyone else mentioned, the Guest Book is the first thing we look at after someone moves out.  It is fun to read what they wrote.  It also gives us a feel for how a request for an online review will go over. We haven't had any bad entries or reviews, but if they write nice comments in the Guest Book we feel more confident about asking them to put a review online.  Now, THAT we have trouble getting people to do!

  • stjvilla Active Contributor 624 posts since
    May 27, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 3, 2011 9:52 AM (in response to sophie)
    Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

    Like many of you, the guest comments are about the first thing we look at when we get to our VR.  I'd say no more than half of the guests leave comments, but they are uniformly good.  If there are any suggestions for us, we follow them.  Example: one couple really wanted the kitchen to have a garlic press so we got one.

     

    Our guest pages are in the back of our house book and in our welcome section we ask them to comment for us and other visitors (your favorite beach, restaurant, hike, etc.)  We don't have a separate guest book because we have the house book, a detailed A/V instruction folder, and a Green Guide to the house and island which we wrote, and that seems like enough books!

  • swiss-house Contributor 260 posts since
    Jul 6, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 6, 2011 11:19 AM (in response to sophie)
    Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

    We looked long and hard for a traditional style guest book instead of using a notebook of some sort.  We finally found a nice guestbook - that didn't look too "wedding-ish" - at a wedding party store.

     

    We always leave it open near the kitchen table turned to the page of the last renter so each party gets the idea.  So far this year every renter but one has added to it.  We've only had to remove one page, from a "10 hours to clean the house afterwards" party.  It was all nice things, but the language was far too gruff for a family guest book.  We'll never rent to them again, but I'm glad they had nice things to say about the house.

    • New Member 17 posts since
      May 7, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jul 14, 2011 8:59 AM (in response to swiss-house)
      Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

      Hi, We've had guest books for years and the guest seems to enjoy signing and looking through them. In our arrival instructions, we ask that they sign the book. There are many places to buy such themed books or journals...beachy, snowy, fish, water, usually sold local to the vacation area or try ebay. Good luck, Jim

  • New Member 1 posts since
    Jul 13, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 14, 2011 12:14 AM (in response to sophie)
    Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

    We just keep our guest book on the sofa table and most of our guests write comments in it. We purchased ours from Journals Unlimited at a cost I feel is reasonable. They have many to choose from but the following link is the book we use.

    http://www.journalsunlimited.com/store/products/212792/Up-North-Cabin-Journal/

     

    Like many of you it is the first thing I look at when I check our home and like aznative it gives us a feel for whether to ask for a review.

    • sfvacationhut Community All-Star 643 posts since
      Dec 31, 2010
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jul 14, 2011 7:41 PM (in response to waiohai)
      Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

      I was going to post that I bought the cranberry journal advertised on Christine Karpinsky's web site ...

       

      http://shop.howtorentbyowner.com/Guest-Journal-Cranberry-6002-C.htm

       

      We have been very happy with this journal.

       

      I like the way it directs people to write about particular things, like things they saw, people they met, the weather, favorite sightseeing spots, etc.

       

      But ... interestingly, before posting, I read the other posts here in more detail, including clicking on the links ... and guess what, the Journals Unlimited store recommended by waiohai, is selling the exact same thing!

       

      Here it is:

       

      http://www.journalsunlimited.com/store/products/0000149/guest-journal/

       

      Waiohai, that was very resourceful of you, to find that Journals Unlimited store.

       

      We really like the journal. It feels like about 70% of our guests write in it.

      Sometimes I wonder if people feel like they don't need to leave us an online review, since they already left comments in the journal.  I wonder if it feels like "double work" to them?

       

      So ... to make less work for the guests ... sometimes I scan a copy of what they wrote in the guest book, and I e-mail it to the guest, when I ask for an online review.

       

      I figure that might help them remember what they wrote before, when they sit down to write the online review ... because sometimes coming up with the right words to say is half the battle!

      • New Member 23 posts since
        Feb 24, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Jul 14, 2011 8:05 PM (in response to sfvacationhut)
        Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

        What a great idea: scan and e mail!!  When people return home to their busy lives, they think they don't have the extra time to write a review.

      • aznative Contributor 103 posts since
        Feb 8, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Jul 15, 2011 2:32 AM (in response to sfvacationhut)
        Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

        Yes, sf, the scanning is a great idea!  You really were born for this!  Now I'm just bummed that I didn't know about this book before I made ours!

         

        When I write to someone and ask them to post online I usually explain to them how the online reviews really help us with our business, as so many people look to the reviews to help them decide where to rent, and also that it does help move us up in the list of properties.  I'm not past groveling, and I also mention about how if they were pleased with their stay, that the online review really does help us with our livelihood. Maybe that's too personal, but I'm not too proud to ask for help.

         

        Still, if they wrote nice comments about the house, I'm going to try your scanning tip.  Sounds brilliant!

  • New Member 4 posts since
    Feb 16, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 25, 2011 11:14 PM (in response to sophie)
    Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

    Hi- I have had a guestbook in both of my rental properties for the past 11 years. They are excellent feedback and great tools for learning what needs are missing, improvements or shift in descriptions of amenities.

     

    My guestbooks ask questions such as: names of guests, ages, favorite memory of vacation, dining recommendations, new places visited, best meal, projects started, books read, favorite room in the cottage and time spent on hobbies, the back page asks for suggestions, ideas and repairs.

     

    I love reading their logs and 99% of the time they are very complimentary. My descriptions and amenities well spelled out in advance so that there aren't any disappointed guests, that felt manipulated.

     

    Interestingly, when the renter complained prior to leaving my cottage or left a somewhat nasty note for the cleaning people, it was a red flag for me to see what damages occurred during their time period. One renter complained that the DVD player did not work and the cable flickered on and off. Never having a complaint prior about the DVD player as well as they all have my cell phone number with instructions to call me about anything, a month later I received a huge cable porno bill, purchased only by resetting parental controls by a spouse with an addiction problem..

    ZA

  • New Member 4 posts since
    Feb 25, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 26, 2011 9:39 PM (in response to sophie)
    Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

    Our guest book started on Thanksgiving weekend, 1978, a month after we purchased our cabin.  The first guests were my husband's parents and my mother.  Personal guests as well as vacationers have signed it over the years.  It's one of the first things I look at when I go to the cabin.  We've had guests from all over the world!  But then, Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places in America to visit.  I'm always disappointed if people have not been signing it.  Sometimes it gets "buried" and guests don't find it, I think.  I should request my housekeeper to make sure it is visable on the coffee table!

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 24, 2012 6:21 PM (in response to sophie)
    Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

    Yes we have one and so far every guest but one and they were in a hurry and forgot. We have been very blessed by our guests both in reviews and guest book. I mention it in the welcome letter and welcome email. And yes it is the first thing I go for when we get back to the home to visit I treasure it:)

  • New Member 3 posts since
    Apr 21, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 21, 2012 8:18 PM (in response to sophie)
    Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

    We also have a guestbook in our villa.  Recently our guestbook was removed from our villa and returning guests were asking why it was removed?  I just ordered my guestbook from guestbook.com and I am totally impressed at the quality and speedy service of the delivery to Canada.

    • New Member 12 posts since
      May 25, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Apr 21, 2012 8:47 PM (in response to tara55)
      Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

      Periodically, I use my digital camera to take pictures of all the different pages in our guest book at the Willow Bank cottage. I then download the pictures on to my laptop. The hard drive in the laptop is automatically backed-up off site on a regular basis.

       

      That way, by using a .jpeg file, I have effectively backed up all the comments and drawings that were made by our guests staying at the cottage over the years.

       

      Even after all that, I would be very disappointed if our guest book was to go missing from the cottage.

      • New Member 3 posts since
        Apr 21, 2012
        Currently Being Moderated
        Apr 21, 2012 9:45 PM (in response to canadianshaker)
        Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

        What a great idea.  I wish I would have thought of that!  I truly believe, but can not prove, that my property management company there removed it.  They also rent villas in the area and with the 45 reviews on my site, think that could be the issue.  I had 2 returning guests who looked forward to the guestbook and questioned why it was not there.  his has been a learning experience for sure....Tara

        • amyg Active Contributor 323 posts since
          Dec 10, 2010
          Currently Being Moderated
          Apr 22, 2012 1:27 PM (in response to tara55)
          Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

          That is a good idea to take photos of your guestbook.  If it ever goes missing, you at least have some record of the contents.  I would say about 40% of our guests leave comments.  I think many are just too darned busy having fun and then forget to leave a comment.  We usually get beautiful comments from those who do write, so I can tell they're the type to take a moment to say thank you in the guestbook.  I do not get upset when we've had several weeks with no new comments because I understand not everyone is able or wants to leave an entry.  But I will say that when we've had a flurry of guestbook entries...we seem to get even more.  When it's had nothing new for a couple of months, new comments are more sporadic.  I think people are more inclined to write something if they see the family before them left a comment.  If the guestbook appears stale with no recent entries, maybe they think it really doesn't matter if they take time to share their experience.  Just a guess.

  • alliee Contributor 45 posts since
    Jul 11, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 16, 2012 5:51 AM (in response to sophie)
    Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

    Yes guestbook is a best thing to share with the client or guest because it always nice to share great experience with others. What they feel about your hospitality, etc.

  • cruisingal2 Contributor 70 posts since
    Aug 7, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 16, 2012 7:12 PM (in response to sophie)
    Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

    I have a guestbook at my cottage.  I purchased a fairly inexpensive one online in the $30 range with the name of my cottage printed on it.  It had quite a number of pages in it, so it should last several years.  Almost all of my guest have signed it, and I have been renting for almost a year.  I copied the online review to the guestbook, from the first 4 or 5 guest that responded to my online review before I purchased the guestbook.  I added a note at the bottom of each one that it was taken from the online review.

     

    I really enjoyed reading and filling out the guestbooks in the ski condos that we rented over the years, while sipping on hot chocolate or having a drink.  Really felt like I was on vacation and relaxing.  I was also able to pickup on many tips too for the area or the condo.

  • carol Senior Contributor 2,147 posts since
    Dec 10, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 26, 2013 6:09 PM (in response to sophie)
    Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

    Donna, you should edit or remove your note -- don't put personal info in these forums.  

     

    Instead, you can click on meredith's icon and send her a private message

  • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,191 posts since
    Aug 30, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 27, 2013 4:09 AM (in response to sophie)
    Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

    Wow, I truly am surprised how many people here are using a paper guest book.  For us, it doesn't help in our ad ranking and we can get the same feedback online, so we ask for a digital rating or review on our listing instead.  Also, if people write in your guest book (which doesn't really have any advertising value, as people who see it are ones who have already booked) they may then decide they don't need to leave a review online so it could actually work against you.

     

    For my own personal curiosity and feedback I always call the night before check-out, so a physical paper guest book wouldn't help us either way.

    • whiteparrot New Member 2 posts since
      Aug 26, 2013
      Currently Being Moderated
      Aug 27, 2013 6:44 AM (in response to swlinphx)
      Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

      Swlinphx, Is there a particular site(s) you have them go to to rate and review?  Or do you just say go anywhere online to rate and review?  How does that work?  Would like to get reviews/comments/suggestions/ratings written and/or online started, but I am new to all this stuff.  Thanks everyone for all this great input.

      • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,191 posts since
        Aug 30, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Aug 27, 2013 1:41 PM (in response to whiteparrot)
        Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

        Hi whiteparrot and welcome to the forum!

         

        I have them leave their rating and/or review right on our VRBO or HomeAway listing (one gets automatically published ot another) and copy & paste it to our FlipKey listing as well.  Not only can everyone see it before renting, but it helps your rank in search results (the more reviews you have and the average rating, both).  I'd rather focus on their contributing there than writing a note for me in the unit itself.  Besides, I get personal feedback when I check the guests in and when I call the night before they check-out.

         

        I try to stay away from physical paper items for communication as much as possible nowadays.  I've had all my bills "e-mail only" for many years now and get only minimal physical mail.

    • lazym Active Contributor 394 posts since
      Sep 5, 2012
      Currently Being Moderated
      Aug 27, 2013 10:19 AM (in response to swlinphx)
      Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

      For us it is more than just a advertising tool, it is something that guests can read while they are staying in our cabin and see what other guests have done/seen and give them ideas of what to do.  Also we love to read what guests have to say.  We have found that guests are much more likely to write while they are still there on vacation than when they return home to work and everyday stresses.  

  • rentmore Contributor 226 posts since
    Dec 19, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 27, 2013 6:43 AM (in response to sophie)
    Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

    Hello all,

     

    We found some great ideas for capturing guest comments and these don't involve a book.

     

    Really cool ideas that will make guests want to get involved.


    See all 80+ ideas here http://pinterest.com/idodeals/guest-book-ideas/

     

    Some are for weddings but some would be ideal for vacation rental guests. And it adds a little fun.

     

    These stones, for example, could be individually photographed and added to a special guest gallery on the owners website

     

    http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/e9/b3/7a/e9b37a0e0e12aea486cfc4757235b6cc.jpg

     

    What do you think?

     

    Regards  Alan

     

    http://rentmoreweeks.com

    • mydilloncondo Contributor 70 posts since
      Jun 19, 2012
      Currently Being Moderated
      Aug 27, 2013 11:01 AM (in response to rentmore)
      Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

      I always enjoy a fresh take on an old concept so thank for sharing the link to ideas for guest book alternatives!

       

       

      We have a physical guest book in our condo and do enjoy reading what the guests have written while they are at the condo and enjoying their stay.  They often put restaurant recommendations and ideas for things to do so it is helpful for subsequent guests if they should happen to read it. 

       

       

      We have had 18 guests stay in our condo since we started renting it in March of this year.  Of those, two have not yet received my follow-up email informing them of their security deposit refund & requesting them to submit a review on our listing.  (I send that email one week after their departure.)  Out of the remaining 16, we have received ten 5-star reviews.  I am happy with that conversion rate!

       

       

      One thing that we have done is put a large glass jar with lid in the condo with a little sign next to it inviting the guests to contribute to our "Guest Wine Cork Collection".  We ask them to write their names, hometown & date of stay on their wine corks & add them to the jar.  It is fun to see the collection grow with (almost) each new guest who stays at our condo!

       

      Wine cork collection.png

      • kolekole New Member 1 posts since
        Mar 5, 2014
        Currently Being Moderated
        Mar 5, 2014 8:08 AM (in response to mydilloncondo)
        Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

        We provide guestbooks, but we do them as photo books from sites like snapfish and shutterfly so they are personalized with pictures of the property and blank spaces for guests to write comments. It's a little more expensive than buying plain notebooks or traditional guestbooks but I think it's more visually interesting to look through for other travelers.

         

        I know the paper guestbooks of any sort aren't increasing our bookings or ratings and of course we'd prefer people write reviews on VRBO/HA, but since all people are lazy (myself included, I do the same thing when I stay places) they prefer the paper version. We started renting our place 5 months ago, we have had about 30 stays, we have 8 VRBO/HA reviews, but I think every single stay has resulted in an addition to our photobook guestbook.

         

        Also, I made a facebook page for the house where people can "check-in," "like," post photos and leave comments/reviews while they're staying there and might be more inclined to do that type of stuff while still on vacation rather than requesting reviews from them after they've returned home to their busy lives. I made business cards to leave in our rental with a link to our facebook page and I added a link on VRBO/HA to our facebook page encouraging people to use it as an online guestbook, so we'll see how that works.

        • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,191 posts since
          Aug 30, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Mar 5, 2014 8:16 AM (in response to kolekole)
          Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

          Aren't you worried though that providing so many alternate ways for guests to leave comments that they they are less likely to leave yet another rating/review where it counts, on your HomeAway, VRBO, FlipKey, TripAdvisor, etc. page?  We want them all to accumulate in one place for all to see and where we are ranked by quantity and quality of reviews.

          • beachbumz Active Contributor 542 posts since
            Jan 21, 2013
            Currently Being Moderated
            Mar 5, 2014 8:53 AM (in response to swlinphx)
            Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

            I'm with swlinphx. The only place I want guest to leave comments or reviews are on the venues he mentioned. While alot of people like guest books, I don't want my guests to have to write the same thing multiple times.

            • Currently Being Moderated
              Mar 5, 2014 11:06 AM (in response to beachbumz)
              Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

              I agree with this too, when I am looking for a place to book I am very interested in the online reviews that other guests have left. By the time I actually arrive at the home I rented I am already committed to that property so I don't have a lot of interest in reading about what other people thought of the place. I understand a lot of people really enjoy reading the comments in their books but for me if I read a nice comment I want it to be in a review where prospective guests can see it.

          • bobcat Contributor 61 posts since
            Aug 26, 2013
            Currently Being Moderated
            Mar 5, 2014 11:49 AM (in response to swlinphx)
            Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

            While I have no hard data to back it up, my gut says that we should not ignore the psychological benefit to guests when (if) they read about other groups exploring the area, enjoying family time at our house, etc.  I think it makes it more likely that they too will enjoy their visit.  You know, group think and all that.  That should translate into more favorable reviews (wherever they are written), more referrals, and more return customers.  And it's a simple thing to provide.

             

            As I've posted elsewhere, I am still skeptical that focusing so much time and effort just trying to boost your position in HA listings is really worth the effort.  So far we've seen very little (if any) benefit from a 3 month "featured" listing on two of our four units, whereas it is (painfully) clear that other factors (like the weather for instance) have a far greater influence on inquiries than does our visibility on HA.  And because we featured only two of the four, we have the performance of the two "unfeatured" listings over the exact same time period and conditions for comparison (i.e. a controlled experiment).

             

            Not meaning to drift off topic though...  My point is that if you like the idea of having a guest book available, I wouldn't worry about how it might affect your position in the listings.  Do it anyway just because you like it. 

             

            I suspect that the most cost effective way to maximize your inquiries is not to force it to the top of the listings, but rather to make your home as comfortable, attractive and enjoyable as possible.  If you feel a guest book is consistent with that goal, then don't hold back!

            • carol Senior Contributor 2,147 posts since
              Dec 10, 2010
              Currently Being Moderated
              Mar 5, 2014 12:24 PM (in response to bobcat)
              Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

              To me, a guest book comment and an online review are two very different things.  The guest book comments at my VR are almost always written with me or a future guest in mind -- thanking me, saying how much they loved this or that about the house, and making suggestions for future guests about restaurants, etc.  Often the children will add a note (or picture).  

               

              But the reviews online are intended to help potential guests decide if my house is right for them.  Here, comments about the desirability of the location, the accuracy of the pictures, and the adequacy of the supplies and furnishings are all pertinent, as are descriptions of the type of group for whom the house is best suited.   By policy, only one person per group can submit a review so a review would never have a child's point of view.  

               

              So, I think they both have their place.   I confess I am like others here -- I read the guest book first after a group checks out.   And when I read the comments in the guest book, I decide whether or not to invite the guest to submit an online review.  

              • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,191 posts since
                Aug 30, 2011
                Currently Being Moderated
                Mar 5, 2014 5:53 PM (in response to carol)
                Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

                We simply were not getting a great percentage of (even satisfied) guests leaving online reviews after they had checked out, returned home and received their deposit back (which says to them, "This deal is now completely done and you can forget about it and get back to life as usual").

                 

                As a matter of fact, one guest thought that juts because I had called the night before to see how their stay went and she told me that that then took the place of her leaving an online review.

                 

                If guests are willing to do both that is great and I can see the quaintness and warmth of a physical guest book, but having one or not will not affect how often or well you rent, nor will not having one cause a guest to miss it in any way.

    • hill5185 Contributor 197 posts since
      Mar 28, 2012
      Currently Being Moderated
      Mar 5, 2014 10:14 PM (in response to rentmore)
      Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

      It's always amazing how these threads re-surface. I love this idea and the wine corks too. Although, some will not like the idea of guests leaving wine corks....we're a beach property and most of the guests, families etc...enjoy an adult beverage while on vacation.

       

      We have great success with online reviews and use a "paper" guest book on property. Many times after reading the comments in the guest book I reach out to encourage guests to share their thoughts through the review process. Very successful.

       

      As for the Glad to Have you App. I purchased the app months ago. I have spent many hours loading information and getting familiar with the app. I like it, but still like the concept of a guest taking time to hand write a note in our paper guest book.

       

      Once HomeAway integrates all the features and can find a way to cross reference the reviews and post them as reviews for everyone to see on our subscription. Another ? is there were functions that were available with the basic subscription with Glad and other functions that cost additional $$'s. I'd like more info on how all this comes together and what previous purchasers have to do to transfer an account.

       

      Interestingly enough I called Glad CS today and the call rolled over to one of the "owners". He was extremely helpful and completely awe struck by the "fast" buy out. He did mention the developers are all going with the product to help with integration and couldn't believe HomeAway was offering it a a free service. The conversation was very interesting and not expected.

      • stonemsp Senior Contributor 1,126 posts since
        Mar 19, 2013
        Currently Being Moderated
        Mar 5, 2014 11:21 PM (in response to hill5185)
        Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

        hill5185 wrote:

         

        It's always amazing how these threads re-surface.

        Im sure you realize that threads have been resurfacing because a developer at HA (or contracted by HA) scrambled the forum database and bubbled many old threads to the top where visitors started reading and replying.

         

        Not that messing up the forum is a big deal.

         

        It simply begs the obvious question if the same lack of change management controls are used in the VRBO listings database.  Hopefully that area is treated with more care???

  • thale HomeAway Employee 136 posts since
    Oct 27, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 5, 2014 11:41 AM (in response to sophie)
    Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

    Hi guys:

     

    If you guys are into guestbooks, you should take a look at HomeAway's acquisition announcement today. We just avquired Glad to Have you, a company which makes a mobile guest app. It's like the black binder of info that you leave in your VR, but on a mobile phone.

     

    It also serves as a digital guest book, so that your guests can a) read other folks reviews and b) submit their own, including a photos.

     

    I use it at my VR, and it is pretty awesome. You can read the blog post here.

     

    And this video gives you a good sense of what the solution does. The video is for the Professional version for property managers, but you will get the idea.

     

    The Gladowners product is now free for HomeAway customers - and if you want to sign up for it, you can go here to get started.

     

    regards

     

    tom

  • rentmore Contributor 226 posts since
    Dec 19, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 6, 2014 4:15 AM (in response to sophie)
    Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

    I think we can get too centred on the online review.

    The on site guest book is so much more personal. As someone said children leave heart rending comments and drawings and you can look back at these books years after guests left notes and comments and still remember individual families.

    You can't do that with an online review.

     

    You can also share photos and quotes from these on site guestbooks on social media sites like Pinterest, Google Plus and Facebook and your own website.

     

     

    As an aside, I was asked to write a preface about social media and word of mouth marketing and here's a snippet regarding my take on online reviews.

     

    Word of mouth within the holiday rental marketplace

     

    Now you can advertise all you like with Homeaway, VRBO, Flipkey, AirBnB and the like but none of these options really drive any word of mouth recommendations. I know some of you are thinking “What about online reviews” and sure enough the introduction of the online review is a form of word of mouth but it’s not exactly a fully fledged conversation is it? It’s more of a rubber stamp. A sort of digital thumbs up. Listed with other reviews, one after another, each become somewhat impersonal and somewhat diluted. Online reviews are more like a lot of mouthed words than word of mouth.

     

    I wonder if Homeaway can capture an electronic version of the physical guestbook, via the Glad To Have You app, and display a list of more individual looking reviews (rather than endless same font and star rating lists).

     

    That would be interesting.

    • bobcat Contributor 61 posts since
      Aug 26, 2013
      Currently Being Moderated
      Mar 6, 2014 10:23 AM (in response to rentmore)
      Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

      Re: capturing & displaying the physical guestbook online -- a simple approximation to that might be to photograph a particularly fun entry in your guestbook and then add it to your listing's collection of photos.  Of course it's not the whole guestbook, but then again maybe that's not really a negative.  Just have to be careful not to include sensitive personal info.

       

      Now I'm going to look through our guestbooks with a new perspective...

  • cruisingal2 Contributor 70 posts since
    Aug 7, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 6, 2014 7:11 AM (in response to sophie)
    Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

    I have a guestbook with the name of my cottage on the cover.  I ordered it online for a reasonable price.  About half of my guests sign it.  I know that when I traveled to rental places I liked reading and writing in the guestbook.  I think most people have downtime where they like to read what other guests thought along with helpful tips at times.  Of course I appreciate the online reviews.  I give them a few months and if they don't write a review on their own, I invite some of them to write one... the people I feel would most likely "not be bothered" by the request. 

    • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,191 posts since
      Aug 30, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Mar 9, 2014 3:32 PM (in response to cruisingal2)
      Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

      I give them a few months and if they don't write a review on their own, I invite some of them to write one... the people I feel would most likely "not be bothered" by the request.

      That would never work for us and many I presume, as almost everyone is "bothered" to an extent by solicitations for a review.  Some see it as extra work they're asked to do but know they don't have to, so in that case it would be the exception to voluntarily leave a review without being asked (maybe 1 out of 4 or 5), whether forgetting, busy or just not wanting to.  We already know that doesn't work from experience (even from happy guests) unless we are okay with receiving a review being the exception.  Unfortunately, we go through a lot of work for each booking and reservation to simply have it be an afterthought that some thoughtful guests might do on their own if they are so inclined, not busy when they get home and simply don't just forget.  If you don't get regular reviews that are posted for all to see (regardless of how it affects rank) or if your most recent review is from long ago, it can make a difference.  And if you never get reviews, what's to make any owner or manager try harder.  They figure we already got your money and no one else will know so all the work is before the booking and arrival.  That is why they are important to both the guest and owner/manager.

       

      If leaving a tip at a restaurant was not expected (as it is not in many places overseas), how many of you would go home and then in a few days remember to send the tip in after the fact.  If it's expected and something to be completed (just like running the dishwasher or turning off all lights and locking the door) before they leave or as part of the bill then it gets done -- period.  Does that mean you don't give them their deposit back if they don't turn off the lights or run the dishwasher or leave a review?  No, of course not.  But do you nevertheless require all those things?  Yes.

       

      Finally, all the posts I'm reading about quaint guest books with ribbons and photos and drawings and adorable bindings, etc., etc., etc. are just not appropriate or really applicable to many rentals.  We usually get older adult couples (70% or so) and these are condo rentals, not cottages or beach houses.  If people want to spend time on gift baskets or fruit or wine or chocolate or little notes or whatever that is fine, but it just is not practical or really helpful for many of us.  Will a guest appreciate it and even comment on it?  Very likely.  If there isn't one however will a guest miss it or comment on its absence or will it detract from their review if they had a great stay and were happy?  Not at all.  So basically this is something that is done in great part because the owner or manager enjoys it, not because it would in any way negatively impact their business or have less satisfied guests if they didn't.

       

      My opinion, if all of that makes you happy then do it.  But in many ways it is extra work that may not make a real difference other than a "warm fuzzy" in your own heart that you enjoy.  We all have things we may focus more on or like to do because, well, we like to do it.  But to imply that a rental that doesn't do this is lacking in any way is wrong.  Our guests are happy with a clean, spacious, well-furnished and decorated place as advertised at a great price, with great service, in an ideal and beautiful location.  And we personally meet and greet and spend up to a half hour with each guest when they arrive, something I think has actual benefit for both us and the guests, then we also call the night before they check out to see how their stay went and remind them of the check-out procedure, and also have someone on site 24/7.  Many do not or cannot, but I think it makes it more personal.  We focus primarily on the things that truly impact our business.

      • stonemsp Senior Contributor 1,126 posts since
        Mar 19, 2013
        Currently Being Moderated
        Mar 6, 2014 1:52 PM (in response to swlinphx)
        Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

        Wow what a great post.  Now I know how I must sound to others - always the contrarian fighting the current in the opposite direction.

         

         

        all the posts I'm reading about quaint guest books with ribbons and photos and drawings and adorable bindings, etc., etc., etc. are just not appropriate or really applicable to many rentals.

         

        I would even go a bit farther and state that a guestbook can be a turn-off.  My ideal renter is a CEO or SVP that is paying extra for the illusion that this is HIS private home for awhile.   I think a guestbook tends to damage that ambience as would any family photos of the owners family or owner hobby stuff laying around.

         

        I am not smart enough to figure everything out so I try to emulate what other successful people have done.  When configuring my VR, I look at what the Ritz and Marriott and Hilton do - they never have such things as a guestbook.  It would be a negative to their target audience.

         

        But I think that other VR owners are smart to put a guestbook in their place if it makes them feel good and they  enjoy reading from guests - I would never fault what they do with their place.  Its just not for me as I dont think it lends to the image that I want to attract (not that I always get CEOs and SVPs, but that is a group that many are chasing as they make ideal guests).

        • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,191 posts since
          Aug 30, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Mar 6, 2014 2:47 PM (in response to stonemsp)
          Re: Do you have a guestbook in your rental?

          Yeah stonemsp, that is all I'm saying.  I can see how many may enjoy it but for us it wouldn't make a difference and just be more work.  You bring up a good point in that who we cater to is different and the type of rentals we have are different and our locations are different.  I think we are all guilty of forgetting this at times when we post here.


          As far as reviews go, I was just sharing our experience and everything we tried that failed or was not adequate and what finally works perfectly with about a 95% result rate.  I recently toned down the wording on our check-out list a bit not to make it sound like a security deposit refund is contingent on a review though.  I re-read it and agreed a slight change was needed (and a guest questioned it too).  That's all you can do is try different things until you find what works best for you and your situation.

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