Getting great guest reviews is critical for running a successful Vacation Rental Business. Most renters carefully screen reviews when selecting a property to stay at during their vacation. Listing sites such as VRBO and Airbnb use guest review information to establish property ratings when determining search positions. The difference between a 4-Star review and a 5-star review can be hundreds of places in these search positions. Here are five keys to ensure that your property gets these coveted 5-Star reviews.
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One of the most prominent complaints guests have when leaving unfavorable STR (short term rental) reviews is substandard housekeeping. You can be in the ideal location with great amenities, but your guest reviews will suffer if your place isn't clean.
So what areas do guests expect impeccable cleanliness? Well, all of them actually, but the most critical are the kitchen and bathrooms.
The kitchen must be sanitary, for apparent reasons. Dirty stoves and sinks are not welcoming signs for rental guests looking to prepare their meals. Make sure that you check your dishes to be sure they are clean when putting them away. Nobody wants to find the last visitors' dinner on their plate. Make sure to clean out and wipe down all appliances. Use baking soda in the refrigerator to ensure fresh smells.
Great cleaning product - featured on Shark Tank.
Now for the bathroom. The last thing that a guest wants to find during their dream vacation is a filthy toilet. Guys are notorious for missing their mark. Guess who needs to clean up after them? That's right, you or your poor housekeeper. As for the shower, make sure you inspect for hair, including the drain. Nobody wants to use the bathtub if it appears a sasquatch was in there before them.
Here's a quick note about bedrooms as well. Make sure your bedding is clean. Use high-temperature wash cycles with quality detergent. Unlike some major hotel chains, it is always desirable to change out the comforter and the sheets. Dream vacations tend to spawn romance. Let's leave it at that, and make sure you have sparking clean bedding!
For an in-depth breakdown of Vacation Rental Housekeeping Strategies, check back soon.
Great Guest Communication
From the initial rental inquiry to the final review submission, responding to guests must be done timely and cordially. Respond as soon as possible and no more than 12 hours after receiving the request.
Prompt communication is critical for several reasons. Your guest knows that their business is essential to you and they will feel valued as a customer. You are also establishing a relationship with your soon to be vacation property renter. In our experience, we have found that many of the typical guest problems go away when you have active, cordial communication. We feel people are less likely to misbehave when they feel a personal connection.
Another essential consideration for excellent communication is listing site metrics. Most of the main listing sites weigh guest response time into their owner ratings. Airbnb uses Response Rate as one of its criteria to gain Superhost status. Below is a snip-it from one of our actual site listings.
Provide a Fair Value
For ultimate guest satisfaction, you need to provide a quality product at a fair price. To do this, you need to price your STR at a competitive rate to similar properties in your area. Even if your property is fabulous, your guests may not feel satisfied if your rates are too high.
The basis of economics is supply and demand. There are certainly times when demand is high, where you can justify making moderate rate increases as long as they are in line with the competition. Just remember that squeezing every last cent out of your guests may not be a healthy business strategy in the long run.
For example, there have been many unscrupulous merchants during the Covid-19 crisis. At the hoarding peak, some vendors were offering four-packs of toilet paper for $30.00 or more. People were paying because they were desperate. The moral of the story here is that just because you may be able to charge outrageous prices under certain circumstances, that does not mean you should.
Another area of guest satisfaction that you need to be wary of is offering more than you can deliver. It is perfectly acceptable to highlight all of your vacation rental home's best features in your property listing. Just make sure that what you are selling is accurate and that you can deliver on your promises. Your guests will be disappointed to find that the UHD Smart TV that you advertised is, in fact, an old console model with rabbit ears. Your reviews will suffer if you cannot deliver what you promise.
Offer Great Amenities
To separate your property from your competitors and to get those coveted 5 Star Reviews, offer the amenities that your guests will love.
Instead of offering a bare-bones rental, it would be best if you provided your guests more. Even small, inexpensive items can add to the level of guest satisfaction. We offer complimentary high-end shampoos and conditioners to our guests. Purchased in bulk, the expense to us is minimal and worth it in our excellent reviews.
We also provide a Keurig coffee machine with complimentary pods. It's a small value-added perk that we provide to make our guest experience special. Many of our guests mention this, and it has proven to be well worthy of the original investment.
These are just a couple of the many amenities that you can provide to your guests to make their stay memorable and boost your review rating.
Here is another opportunity to get your guest reviews to blossom. Small, inexpensive Thank You cards and gifts will make your guests feel appreciated.
For each guest, we leave a personalized Thank You note with some treats. It is often a quality chocolate bar, and maybe a few popcorn packages if we know kids are staying. For special events such as Birthdays or Anniversary's, consider a bottle of wine or a few bucks on a nearby restaurant gift card.
Another touch to consider is a memento from their visit. My wife is very crafty and makes refrigerator magnets for our guests to take home with them. Doing so serves a double purpose. It serves as a reminder of their visit. Also, it has all of our website and contact information for their next visit. Always strive for repeat customers.
None of these special touches needs to break the bank. You need to let your guests that they are essential to you and that they are appreciated.
5-Star reviews are critical for maximizing your short term rental business. They encourage new visitors to rent your property and ensure that your home is relevant in the search listings. Following the few simple steps mentioned today will put you on the road to short term rental success.