What Homeowners Must Know About User Reviews Before Listing On Vacation Rental Sites
Putting your property online for renting has never been easier, thanks to the range of vacation rental platforms available to holidaymakers and travelers alike today.
Just because it’s easier than ever before to fill your second home throughout the summer or earn some extra cash while you’re away doesn’t mean there aren’t things to watch out for.
Homeowners listing their properties for the first time, in particular, need to be aware of the importance of user reviews and how they affect the perception and success of your property on these platforms.
Reviews are Essential for Success
Even if you’re not aware of the term, the phenomenon of social proof is something you’ve almost certainly unwittingly taken part in.
If you’ve ever bought something because a friend recommended it or changed your coffee order because you overhead the person at the front of the line say they get one every day, you’ve contributed to retailers across the world putting everything into preparing their website for social proof.
This is no different when it comes to selecting a home to rent for a vacation. Reviews from strangers are one of the main ways people decide what property they want to rent while on vacation, sometimes even more so than price or location. If hundreds of people have given a property 5 stars a consumer may be willing to spend that little extra each night for what they consider a can’t-miss opportunity.
In 2019, it was shown that almost 93% of all shoppers would read at least one review before making a decision on a purchase. This has extended beyond traditional ecommerce, finding its way into people’s decision making about whether or not they should be using a digital mortgage broker or the best tools for working from home. While before you would pick the mortgage broker closest to you or the cheapest tool available for this kind of decision, the number of choices on the internet has made online reviews essential and forced businesses to integrate them into their website design.
Whether it’s the renting or buying market, consumers want to know they’ll be living, even temporarily, in the best place available. You need to prepare your listing for intense scrutiny and research based on very public opinions.
How Reviews are Displayed is Crucial
It’s not just how good your reviews are that matter, it’s how they’re presented.
How you visually sell your property as a vacation rental is obviously essential. The images and description will help set the tone for what the stay could be like for the consumer, giving them an opportunity to visualize their vacation.
Where you position and how much emphasis you put on feedback about your property is like the cherry on top of your presentation. A strong star rating is eye-catching, particularly in a search listing, and will grab attention much more than any title could. They play into the overall package of your advertised property as something worth taking note of.
Don’t be seen to be hiding your reviews in any way. If the platform you’re using has the option to turn them off avoid doing that, even if they’re negative. To shy away from bad feedback shows potential renters you’re not willing to improve your service and may be trying to hide more bad features.
Reviews Can Make or Sink a Property (Even if They’re Misleading)
When you search for something to buy or rent what are some of the most common search filters you use? You might search by location or even price. You’re probably searching (or sorting by) ratings though.
If you don’t put effort into improving your overall user review score you’ll appear in far fewer results. Much like reviews improve a website’s overall ranking on search engines, good reviews on rental sites get you more interest, which subsequently leads to more bookings. A few good reviews can lead to your property snowballing and gaining significant interest.
On the flip side, bad reviews have a major impact on your properties’ visibility and can harm your reputation. Even if these reviews are fake, it can be hard to get them taken down on certain platforms. Responding to these reviews publicly is often the best course of action, and customers who were initially happy can be convinced to change their review if they receive some kind of compensation.
If you can’t apologize your way out of a situation, think of dealing with a bad review like you would a bully. We’re told not to cower away from bullies, but to stand up for ourselves and find a solution. Setting the record straight is vital for consumer’s perception of you. After all, by listing your property you’re creating for yourself a very small business and brand that needs to be protected, or else the negativity can follow you to other platforms.
Be careful though, as just as a couple of good reviews can be a catalyst for expansion and success, a couple of bad reviews can drag your property out of contention almost immediately.
Underestimating the power of reviews is the property lister’s first mistake. They’re one of the most powerful tools for both businesses and consumers online and should be recognized as such by everyone using vacation rental platforms. Almost every decision you make should come with considerations about how it will affect your user review score.