More than a decade ago, guest feedback might have been used primarily as testimonials on the company website. Today, it’s no surprise that just like restaurants and hotels, the vacation rental industry relies on customer reviews to grow business and brand perception. This article will discuss the tips, tricks, and absolute requirements for implementing surveys, responding to reviews, and other ways to maintain 5-star reviews with a glowing online vacation rental reputation.
It all Starts with an Effective Survey
Your customer survey should have depth and relevance to the property as well as the environment in which it resides and while there are default survey questions to use, you should always consider the specifics of your property, the feedback you may already have received, and the community that your property is positioned in.
Ratings and reviews are incredibly important when it comes to a company’s visibility and the likelihood of booking guests. At LiveRez, we are proud to say our software is the only property management system that provides a survey feature (for now). LiveScore allows partners to easily manage and analyze guest reviews, feedback, and surveys to effectively build repeat business and a positive brand experience.
Surveys and the statistics drawn from the surveys are useful tools in evaluating your company’s success and learning ways to improve. Surprisingly, if you get a 30% return on survey responses, you’re doing great! Companies should aim to hit this 30% mark or higher. Here is a list of tips and tricks to keep in mind:
Top 5 tips for Vacation Rental Management Surveys
- Use 12-15 questions per survey – metrics show that customers take the time to answer. This is enough to gather the information that is useful but is short enough to encourage participation.
- Brand your survey with the company logo and contact information: You want brand recognition, and the visual expression of your brand mark is the fastest way to do that.
- Make the surveys convenient to customers: Luckily, this is easy with LiveScore – surveys can be taken on guests’ smartphones.
- Ask the right questions: Choose questions strategically and answer your questions while simultaneously improving the guest experience.
- Update departure surveys every 12-24 months: This keeps answers up-to-date with current company and guest needs.
A 5-Stars Review is Driven by Good Customer Service
Based on the multiple channels for reviews and the lack of control you have over what guests perceive, staying on top of what you can control is vital in getting and maintaining 5-star reviews. Extend your customer service in your review responses. Response rate matters so, provide real-time responses to every single review.
Be proactive and connect with customers before a review is written. If there are concerns, show up in person. Have a conversation before they review to address issues BEFORE they submit a review that is less than 5 stars. Stay on top of Google, Airbnb, VRBO reviews, etc. to make sure issues are addressed and proven.
If you are a new business, getting started with reviews is a challenge but start internally. Have each employee rate the business. If you have a consistent number of 5 stars, it is hard for people to rate you any less. Build the base and rely on the momentum. Make sure actions are taken on every response. Process them quickly and stay on top of it. It will only make the service better. If 2 people comment on one thing, replace or repair it immediately to keep a star rating. Additionally, make a note in the company response that you have remedied the issue in questions.
LiveScore also offers scoring which enables guests to rate property management and the property itself, so customers see both levels of ratings. This approach in scoring will also allow vacation rental managers and owners to focus on exactly what can be improved — whether it’s management specific or property specific. The fact is, stars influence the customer, and the higher, the better.
Responding to Reviews should be Immediate and Mindful
Communication and consistency might be the two most important aspects of customer service. So, be mindful of how you are communicating, who is communicating, and how often you are communicating. Create an internal procedure to stay on top of reviews. Not everyone is going to be good at reviewing responses. Create a solution by designating a team whose tasks include responding to reviews daily with a positive outlook and managed responses. This encourages good customer service and will likely raise an otherwise low rating.
Many people dread reviews because negative reviews are a challenge to remedy. Despite this, it’s good practice to respond to every review, positive or negative.
- For positive reviews: acknowledge something specific the writer mentioned. Make the response personal and unique to their review, and invite them back.
- For negative reviews: address the issue. Do your best to fix the situation by showing the guest you don’t just care about their money; you care about them. This can be done by putting in the time, money, and effort to make them feel heard and that you care about their experience. In return, your newly acquired 5-star rating will ultimately bring more bookings (and revenue) long-term.
In all your interactions, remain respectful and kind even if you do need to correct a false statement. This correspondence is inadvertent advertising, after all. It’s normal to get invested in these conversations after all the hard work you put in as a property manager, but you want the guest to come back so mindfulness in messaging is key.
If needed, assign the response to someone who isn’t as emotionally invested. This can create less stress while simultaneously resolving issues. Lastly, be sure to proofread. A poorly written response can damage your brand as much as the negative review itself.
Remember to Survey the Owners
One last tip in leveraging surveys and survey insights is to initiate an owner survey. They can be daunting, but any negative feedback is an opportunity to improve the company and garner the property owner’s continued trust. Semi-annual surveys allow you to learn about grievances before they turn into major issues. Examples of questions to ask on an owner survey are:
- How do you feel we manage the calendar?
- How do you get in contact with us?
- How are the cleaning services?
- Who do you like to get in contact with at the office?
Tailor questions regarding different issues you’ve had with certain clients and keep the end goal in mind—resolution, and compromise. While the benefits of an owner survey will address how vacation rental managers are doing in business, the survey responses can also be used for sales materials and marketing. And like guest reviews, be consistent in how often you offer owner surveys and how you address the responses. You should also solicit google reviews from the owner. Five stars from an owner are worth your properties’ weight in gold.
Leverage Ratings and Share the Love
If you leverage these tips and tricks, you are sure to get some great feedback, and then it’s time to share the love. Think about what other sites need to hear the good news, and definitely share your positive reviews and 5-star ratings with the property owners. Owners will then see what guests have to say and might be more open to making appropriate updates to their properties which will lead to even more great reviews. Use reviews for internal motivation, and publicize reviews within the community for even more brand awareness and perception.
Use the survey report in LiveRez to target specific goals. Sort by 5-star ratings and leverage for google reviews. Asking each 5-star respondent to provide a google review is usually successful and just good business practice. Reviews are here to stay and using LiveScore’s surveys will help to guarantee great feedback and the 5-star ratings you work so hard for.