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I have four vacation rentals and we average maybe 8-10 guest reviews a year (per property) on our VRBO listings. Most of the reviews are a surprise to us, meaning we get an email notification from VRBO that we have a new guestbook entry. I always feel like a kid on Christmas morning when I see those emails
Because I manage 7 properties in total, plus have another side business, I don't make the effort to ask guests for reviews and I wish I was more disciplined to do so. Time is a real premium for me and I just don't "work" at getting more reviews. Plus I don't directly enter the reviews from my guestbook because I just don't think they carry the same weight as a guest-entered review.
Sometimes if a guest emails after their stay, I'll ask them to share their comments and provide a link to the VRBO page to leave a review. That's about as close as I get to asking for a comment. Does anyone else make a concerted effort or have any tips or tricks to share? And do you think having dozens of reviews really makes a difference? We have 20-90 reviews at our four properties and to me, at some point you have "enough" that people get a good look at what others think of your place. Once I hit around 30 reviews for a property, I'm reasonably content. But I do like to make sure that if we haven't had a guest comment in 6 months that I get a new one or two so we have "fresh" reviews.
I send an email letting the guest know that I have sent their deposit back and to expect it in the mail in the following days. I created a text document that I keep the verbage I paste into that email asking for any suggestions in making my property better, photos they would like posted to my guest album on my websites and a link to post a review on vrbo.com if they would like to let others know of their experiences at my properties.
I honestly don't think there is such a thing as too many reviews. If I had 100 reviews, I'd still like more as it really gives potential renters peace of mind that they will get what you are advertising.
Rick, I should have clarified that once I get about 30 reviews for a property, I'm content that this many guest comments gives our potential renters enough material and various opinions to get a good feel for what they can expect from our property and level of service. I totally agree that more is better when it comes to reviews!
I read every review for a property. I would like to have 15 or more for every property but that is rare. I really like recent reviews and reveiws that were from the previous year during the same time (month/week) I plan to be there. Those two things give me a good idea of what to expect. I also like reviews that list pros or cons for a property. Lots of current content is good. Current reviews, current photos, updates in the description all help me narrow down to a handfull of potential places for most of my trips.
I usually do a review of places I stay and also make sure I contact the owner and tell them of any issue I think they would want to know about.
I agree, the more the better! someone stated that a traveler can only read so many reviews. I don't agree. I think that they read more than we would realize. They are spending hundreds of dollars on an unknown entity and I think that the more they read the bigger their comfort level with booking.
This is my third year and I have had several repeat customers and that always feels amazing to me, as that is a review without one word written.
When I let them know that there deposit has been refunded through the same manner it was paid, it is at that time, I ask them to send a review if they have time.
I get a pretty good response and the ones that "don't" respond probably don't have the time to write something worth while anyway. So, I am good with what I get.
I continually ask for reviews. I think reviews are important and each guest offers a different prespective in their review. When I'm considering what property to rent, the dates of the reviews are important to me. As an owner, I know a lot can change in 3 or 4 years so I only read the last couple of years of reviews. If there were a lot of reviews but nothing in the past year, I'd be leery. I don't know if prospective tenants think along that line but my gut feeling is they do.
I agree with Susan. I feel it is really important to keep reviews current. I send an e-mail to renters letting them know their returned deposit is in the mail. I ask how they liked the house and always get back great comments. Then I ask if they would be willing to write a review. If they say yes, I send them a request directly from VRBO and Flipkey. Most people follow through if we make it easy by sending a link.
Are you getting current reviews? I've had none since HA/VRBO changed its review procedure and required travelers to sign in to leave a review. I had one guest try three times to submit one, but she never succeeded in posting it.
I got several reviews just this week. I have been using the VRBO dashboard (it might be the HomeAway dashboard) and their request reviews button. They have you put the e-mail address in and then they send the request and the link from VRBO/HA. I haven't had any trouble at all doing it that way. People have said it was very easy.
We do not solicit reviews. I personally don't use reviews because I have found that my tastes are completely different than the average renter. I go by photos when I book a property as well as quickness of response as well as the availability calendar. I cannot believe the 5-star reviews people have given to some of the places we have stayed. I guess the "review banks" where you can pay someone to post positive reviews, are thriving. So I basically ignore reviews and consider other factors - just me.
One of the reasons we do not solicit reviews is because most of our guests want to keep our place a secret so they will be able to get a reservation again and again. We have heard this over and over again. So it does no good for us to ask someone to share their experience staying at our rental. The other reason is due to a guest from H___ that stayed at the rental before we took ownership. We have been able to avoid renting to her for over 10 years. She tried using an alias as well as trying to book through friends. This person would vow to destroy us if she was given the chance. It is because of this that we would prefer the option of opting out of reviews, but that is no longer possible.
I refuse to play the "review game" - just don't have the time or interest. If we get that one bad review, we will deal with it or go out of business.
So each of us are different - not everyone loves or uses reviews.
I email a thank you to our guests following their group or family checking out. I thank them for taking the time to clean the cottage before they left. I also suggest that they will be contacted by a Flipkey/Trip Advisor asking them to review the cottage. I encourage them to take the time to do so. I have found that this has resulted in many more guest reviews being input by our renters.
Using RM I email each guest. As an incentive of going out of their way and taking time out of their busy schedule I also offer a discount up to a day off of stay for their next stay in this email.
I send an email thanking our guests for staying with us, informing them when to expect their deposit return and requesting a review of our home to every guest after check out. I then send a review request from homeaway/vrbo and flipkey/tripadvisor so they can click on the link to post a review. I think this is a reminder and makes it easy for them to post a review. I agree the more reviews the better. I also try to post a response to each review after it has been posted. I have been told many times by guests booking a stay that my reviews are the deciding factor for choosing my home for their trip. As a renter I rely heavily on reviews so I feel it is an important part of my business as an owner.
I like Margaret's idea of sending a review request along with the Thank You. Margaret, do you include this in your email (a form or sorts) or just ask for a general overview?
I send an email approximately a week after a guest has stayed in our house.
I thank guests for staying "with us", inform them of the return of their security deposit, and i ask them if they have any recommendations to (1) make my house more comfortable and welcoming, (2) to improve the rental process, including communication and house materials (house, travel, and destination information) I provide throughout the process, and (3) anything else that would have made their stay more enjoyable.
Then I request a review, supplying links and instruction for their convenience.
My guests do not leave many reviews. As I posted on a different thread, I have many guests that return from year to year (or every other year) and I did not start off requesting reviews. Reviews weren't important (if you have been in the rental market for as long as I have you'll join me in recalling the early years of online vacation rental advertising).
I receive wonderful unsolicited reviews as guests leave my house or travel home. They are thoughtful and generous in their compliments. But write an online review? Very few follow through.
BTW, I have received very few criticisms in response to my request for guest recommmendaitons about the house and the rental process. One guest suggested a writing table becuase she and her husband needed a work space while vacationing with the family. It seemed a reasonable request and I bought a table, chair, and lamp. The majority of requests have been small items such as a particular type of baking or cooking pan, a larger cutting board, more skewers for the grill, and an additional lamp for one of the sitting areas. All reasonable requests that camei in last season.
I intentionallly asked for their feedback before asking for a review. But, my request does not get an enthusiastic response.
I'll see how it goes this year.
I DO NOT ask for reviews. During my first month of rentals, I asked someone who I thought really enjoyed the home for a review. They left a 4 star. I have never asked for another one because I'm always scared that will leave something less than a 5 star and they may think I am inviting them to say anything, good or bad. I do have 22 5 star reviews on one property and every single one of them was organic and I've never asked anyone since.
We use Reservation Manager. I try to email out their review form the same day as check out while the renter is still on their vacation "high". This has resulted in several outstanding reviews. We have 3 reviews. These excellant reviews have increased our hits exponentially. I find if I don't sent the review form out immediately
the renter is less likely to respond.
I will generally try to get a sense of the level of enthusiasm before I solicit a review. from guests. I also do so within the 24 hours of the guest leaving our home and have 12 nice reviews so far after only 2 1/2 years of renting. Only about 1 out of 5 of those I have asked actually do leave a review, even though I usually explain that it doesn't have to be long. Just a few comments will help other travelers decide if our property is a good fit for them.
I send an email to each guest AFTER I've heard from my cleaner that they left the house in good condition on Sunday mornings. In it I tell them that we will be mailing their security deposit back the next day and thank them for being such terrific guests. If I am willing to rent to them again, I also tell them that if they choose to return next year we will honor the 2012 rental rates. I say that our guests are our best "advertising" and ask them to write a quick review. I give them the following link so that it will be as easy as possible:
I keep this link in a notepad file on my computer's desktop so it will be easy to copy and paste. I'll assume everybody (using VRBO) can do the same by replacing my 315522 with their own listing number. I use only personal email, not any template created by VRBO. This seems to have worked pretty well this year because I already have reviews from my first 5 renters for the year. I had 18 renter submitted reviews from the 2011 season but didn't know to use the link above to simplify the chore.
Thank you for posting the link you use. I'm not certain my hyperlinks are taking guests directly to the recommendation screen. I'm off to check out what I have been sending - perhaps that's part of my problem. Yikes!
I may need to rethink the timing of my email. I have typically held off writing for a week to my guests. I thought it very forward to write sooner. But, it seems that a number of owners are having greater success with a 24 hour timetable.
I may try writing to departing guests in a shorter time frame, less than a week and closer to 24 hours.
I didn't put too much thought into deciding on the one week mark, it just seemed reasonable.
This discussion has been very helpful.
Thank you everyone!
Do you charge a refundable damage deposit? Our renters really appreciate that we mail their refund the day after they leave. So this email starts out making them happy. We're not really giving them anything, but it sort of seems like it. And we're thanking them for being good guests. So I believe that's the best time of all to ask for a favor "in return". <g>
I e-mail our guests when I am sending the deposit back (no longer than a
week). In that e-mail, I say that I hope they enjoyed their stay and would
love to hear their feedback. They usually e-mail back with nice comments.
After I that, I tell them that it would be really helpful to our business
if they would take the time to write a review and I tell them I will send
them the links. I go to VRBO and Flipkey and send a request (I tell them
they can write the same thing on both sites). I am having very good
success. We've done a lot of wedding groups and sometimes it will take them
awhile to get back from honeymoons and respond, but I would say 85-90% of
those I ask have followed through.
Yes, I charge a security deposit and do refer to returningn it in the email. I do address "everything" when I write, including asking for the guest's feedback on their vacation experience.
I posted in detail about my follow-up email, about halfway up this thread.
This ia a great learning experience. (I would be "the old dog" that is learning new tricks.)
Have you ever held any part of security deposit to pay for damages? If so, do you pursue asking for a review from someone for which you have not refunded 100% of the security deposit? Or do you pick and choose who you might want to post a review? I was under the impression that if you use Reservation Manager, VRBO automatically solicits a review from your guest and you cannot pick and choose. Thus, your guests might get 2 requests for reviews, which I find irritating.
I would not recommend asking for a review after withholding monies. I have not withheld monies for many years (there was one instance for cleaning expenses over ten years ago) and have not had to make this decision, but I would not ask someone who has lost a portion of their security deposit to review the property. It won't have a happy ending.
I don't use reservation manager - my guests can't be contacted by homeaway/vrbo.
Yes, we take a cash deposit and no, I have not yet had to keep one.
However, I would never ask for a review from someone who either didn't get
their deposit back for some reason or had problems during their stay. We
had a guest who had the refrigerator go out on them right after they
bought groceries. We bought a new one and had it delivered the next day
plus had the one there repaired. We had been thinking of buying a second
refrigerator anyway. I didn't ask this guest for a review, but she went to
VRBO and wrote us a glowing one anyway! We don't use reservation manager
and I don't know if they receive one from VRBO. How would they know the
person stayed with us if I don't use Reservation Manager?