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I just received notification that a review will be posted and I can respond within 2 days. My home is overseas in a third world country where roads, utilities and infrastructure is well developed. I appreciate your comments about this:
The guest received a special discount because it is the rainy season, he had many requests, such as having a private cook, purchase the groceries ahead of time, lighting strike shut down the Internet, etc. All was provided in a timely manner and the utility company resolved the Internet on Monday after he complained that it was slow.
Now he writes a 4* review saying the house was fine but complaining that he had to buy toiletries (soap, toilet paper), during rain all public areas got wet, utilities were faulty, distance to other cities were too long and he does not recommend this house to do sightseeing and to watch out for these services.
I am concerned of the bad reputation to my property, my contract states that I provide initial amenities only, and the quality of utilities is the responsibility of these companies. The house is very open and rain does get the porch floor wet. I did not mention the distance to other cities (please, get a map!).
Should I respond to the review? Any ideas?
I consider a 4 star review to be a good review.
If you do respond, keep your tone positive. Certainly a vacation rental in Costa Rica will present a different experience from that offered by an urban resort in the U.S. That is why people go there, is it not?
I am a bit surprised that a guest would need to buy soap and toilet paper during their stay. I do understand that you informed the guest that you "provide initial amenities only" but it seems to me that it would be much easier for you to stock essential toiletries, and provide enough to last for the duration of a guest's stay, rather than to expect a guest, unfamiliar with the area, to locate and purchase these items. Even though it probably would mean an increase in what you charge, it seems to me that guests would appreciate having those items provided. I think the distinction on whether to provide essential toiletries and supplies may come down to whether one is catering to guests who drive in, or those who fly in. In my Hawaii location I provide far more in the way of basic supplies than I would if my VR was in Florida. If you are not going to provide enough to last, it would help to be clearer regarding what the guests will need to provide for themselves; to say you provide initial amenities could easily be misunderstood.
For the complaint that the distances were more than expected, you say you "did not mention the distance to other cities." As part of the standard information provided in advance to guests I think distance information and a link to a Google (or equivalent) map of the area should be provided by anyone whose VR is outside an urban area.
Consider contacting this guest with an email thanking them for the review and comments, and saying that based on what the guest said you have decided to make some changes in your operation to address the guest's concerns. Perhaps solicit any other suggestions the guest would have to offer and let the guest know that while you appreciate the good 4-star review, you would be grateful if the guest might revise it to 5-stars in light of your actions to address the guest's concerns. If doing that, be sure to include information on how the guest may edit a review that was submitted. However, there is a risk that the guest could be annoyed by the request and might revise it downward, so being satisfied with a good, if not stellar, review may be best.
If you do respond to the review and if you see fit to make some changes in response to it, say in your response what those changes are. Doing that would tend to show that you respect and heed your guests' concerns, while at the same time saying that future guests will not have the same issues.
But, again, I consider a 4 start review to be a good review.
I mostly agree with Sage. Raise your price $10 & provide amenities like soap & toilet paper. Things like these should be provided & are needed at check-in, especially when it means a guest would have to shop in a language foreign to him/her. He asked for groceries to be bought-it follows that basic amenities should also be there.
I wouldn't ask the guest to revise the review to make it 5 star. It would aggrevate me if someone asked me to redo a review. 4 star is fine and keeps it real for other potential tenants. I've has 2-four star reviews-one of which stayed the following year and the other, fairly recent, raved about my condo & said they would be back. To some people, 5 star means totally perfect- a hard criteria to obtain.
As to distance to other cities: I think you're right. If this is something that matters to a guest, he/she should research distances before reserving. Sometimes I think when something along this line is part of a review, people reading the reviews think "Duh!!! about the person writing the review.
I agree. after reading many reviews, I have concluded that there is almost no difference between a four bubble review and a five buble review, the person who leaves the four bubble review is simply a "tougher grader". Same goes for one bubble and two bubble reviews. I would just let it slide.
It may even be to your advantage, because prospective guests reading the review will then be aware of the problems which are not under your control, and have more realistic expectations.
BTW, those are "bubble" or "dot" ratings, which are quite different from "star ratings". A little time on the internet will explain the difference.