The invincible power of guest reviews

Last week attended the VRMA European Summit in Dublin. It was a hugely successful event and I came away with lots of knowledge that I’ll be sharing with you over the coming weeks. 
One of the most absorbing presentations I attended, was a talk on the ‘Power of Guest Reviews and User Content’. We've debated guest reviews on several occasions in RentalBuzz: how to use them, why we need them and how to ask for them. What I learnt last week was the almighty power of guest reviews. These days they are at the very heart of all holiday rental marketing. We must love and nurture them.
Positive and negative guest reviews
Marketing experts will tell you that a word-of-mouth recommendation is the most powerful form of marketing a company could hope to have. These days a word-of-mouth recommendation, in its online form, would be considered as a review. And reviews, positive or negative, should be embraced.
Consider this statement: When you reply to a review, you aren't just replying to the guest, you are replying to the 500 people that will also read that review. 
Perhaps some of those 500 will be your future guests? Or not. This will depend on your reply. But a review will grow and grow in its capacity to inform people about your holiday rental. It’s the wisdom of the crowd syndrome. When a collective opinion is stronger than that of a single expert. In this scenario, you have little control over what happens, but the ripple effect of a review has a high impact on bookings.

How can we use guest reviews to our benefit?

The speakers from TripAdvisor and Sykes Cottages in the UK talked about the three ‘Es’:
  • Embrace (reviews)
  • Engage (in dialogue and in the community)
  • Encourage (feedback)
Let’s take a look at each one in more depth.

Embracing reviews

Reviews are created. How you respond to them, will depend on whether guests will want to return or do business with you in the future. 
It’s important that you accept that not every reviewer will give you 5 stars. Even if you have done everything in your power to ensure their experience is a good one. We can’t please all of the people, all of the time, but we can respond in a way that will make them feel you care.
Steps to respond to a negative review
  1. Say thank you: whether you receive a positive or negative review, remember your guest has taken the time to write about your holiday rental. So thank them.
  2. If there was a problem from your end, hold you hands up, accept it and make your apology
  3. Explain what went wrong
  4. Show the action taken 
  5. If their complaint is out of your hands i.e. location - the apartment was situated on a noisy street. Make sure you make this point very clear in your property description, to avoid disappointed guests in the future. 
  6. Invite them to come back again and enjoy the improvements
Reviews last forever. If your response shows empathy and action, then you’re more likely to see those guests again. In fact, a survey on guest reviews reported that 15% of respondees said they would be more likely to do business with a company that responded to a negative review. And 90% of guests said they WOULD return if the issue was resolved and they were informed of it. 

Engaging in community spirit

When someone takes the time to write a review about your property, it’s essential that you respond as quickly as possible. I recommend you monitor and approve reviews on a daily basis and, if possible, respond to the review within 24 hours. 
Don’t be automatic in your response. Acknowledge what they have written about you and respond personally to their remarks. Welcome them back to your holiday rental for a future stay.
Remember those 500 potential guests reading your response.

Encourage reviews

Customer service mission statementReviews are a form of ‘free’ and ‘powerful’ marketing for your holiday rental, so make sure you contact every single guest and ask them to review your property, both on the listing site they made the booking on, and through review channels, such as TripAdvisor and TrustPilot and of course online in your guestbook. 
More reviews, in more places, means better visibility of your property, more traffic to your property and, of course, increased bookings conversion. It’s simple!
Embrace. Engage. Encourage. 
Want to know how you can get even more out of guest reviews? Read my article on Rich Guest Profiling for holiday rentals. Here you’ll learn about how to use reviews, yours and your competitors, to your best advantage.