How to get five-star reviews from your Airbnb guests
- Aug 20, 2018 | Jennifer Sokolowsky
The short-term rental industry is powered by reviews. It’s one of the reasons guests are so willing to stay in someone else’s private home and why homeowners are willing to host strangers. This is true whether you use Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO, or any other online short-term rental platform.
Reviews create trust by offering potential guests an objective perspective on what it’s like to stay in a vacation rental property. Guests know that other guests will point out what they need to know beyond the host-provided description — warts and all. And if guests can see that reviews are largely consistent with each other, they have some reassurance that they’re getting a true preview of what kind of experience they’re in for.
Because of this, the more reviews, the better. Guests are much more likely to believe reviews if many different people have offered the same views.
It’s important to remember that guests don’t have to leave reviews, and they may not leave them for many reasons — they’re busy and don’t feel like they have the time, they forget about it, or they simply didn’t have an experience that motivated them to take the time to leave a review.
As a short-term rental host, reviews are your lifeblood and can make a huge difference in your bookings and even the prices you can charge. So it’s worth it to do whatever you can to motivate as many guests as possible to leave positive reviews.
The most important element in getting guests to leave good reviews is to provide them with a five-star experience. Letting your guests know how important reviews are to you and how much you appreciate them can help as well.
Set clear expectations
It’s important to be accurate in your portrayal of your property so guests will have realistic expectations about the rental. That means not only creating a true picture of the property through your photos and description, bu t also being certain you don’t omit important information. If there’s a quirky layout, unusual house rules, or nighttime noise, for example, you need to let your guests know before they arrive. If you don’t, they may choose to complain via a review.
Make sure your rental is sparkling clean, functional, and stocked
Your rental should always be extremely clean, period. The last thing short-term rental guests want to walk into is someone else’s mess, and if they do, they’ll be sure to let the world know about it with a negative review. If you have cleaners working for you, provide clear instructions about what needs to be done — including a schedule for periodic deep cleaning in addition to the regular cleaning done between guests.
The property should also be functional. You or your cleaners should regularly check that all plumbing, heat/cooling, appliances, and other systems work as they should so guests don’t have to spend their vacation calling you to fix a problem.
And you should always see to it that the property is properly stocked with expected supplies such as toilet paper, towels, and basic kitchen ingredients. These are small things that can be a big irritant for guests if they’re not available, and they can also make a big difference in your reviews.
Go above and beyond
Making sure that your rental is as promised, that everything works, and that you provide basic supplies is really about preventing bad reviews. But to inspire great reviews, you need to go beyond the expected basics. It’s the little unexpected extras that really wow guests and make them want to tell the world about how great your rental property is.
“Go above and beyond to provide guests with the best experience possible. You want to give as much value so their stay is unforgettable and this starts with focusing on them and not on your review,” says Alex Wong, author of Airbnb Listing Hacks.
These extras don’t have to be expensive or time consuming, but they do require thinking about guests’ needs and how you can enhance their experience. You could probably come up with a million ideas for how to go the extra mile for your guests by thinking about what guests have enjoyed in the past and the kind of experience you yourself would like to have during a short-term rental stay. These kinds of small gestures can make a huge impact on your guests’ experience and motivate them to leave glowing reviews.
This might mean leaving guests a welcome basket with a bottle of wine and some local snacks, springing for gourmet coffee and a high-end espresso machine in the kitchen, offering personalized tips for their trip based on their interests, or taking the time to greet them when they arrive and helping them settle in.
As Wong says, “Ask yourself how you can provide guests with more value. What would make their stay more comfortable? As the saying goes, ‘The little things matter,’ and they matter a lot in the hospitality industry. Find how you can make your guests' stay a little extra special and you will be increasing your chances for them to leave a 5-star review.”
Fix any problems and make it right
While neither you nor your guests want to deal with problems with your rental, they do happen. Appliances break down, plumbing backs up, and other emergencies occur despite the best of intentions and preparation. But these kinds of incidents do not have to result in negative reviews — depending on how you respond to the situation.
If it’s clear to your guests that you’re doing everything you can to help them, most will really appreciate it. They’ll also appreciate it if you apologize and offer to make it up somehow, whether with a discounted bill or some other gesture. Handling a negative situation with hospitality and grace can actually represent an opportunity to gain positive reviews.
If you know you’ve offered your guest a great experience, but you don’t see any reviews yet, don’t despair. There are ways to reach out and offer guests a gentle reminder.
First, give the guest a good review. This is a great way to inspire them to offer a positive review in return and keep the good vibes flowing. You can also reach out to them once their stay is over to thank them personally for using your property. Ask them to leave a review if they enjoyed their experience, letting them know how important reviews are to your business and how much you appreciate them.
It’s important not to be too pushy, however, or there’s the danger of turning the guest off the experience altogether. Sometimes you simply may not get that review. You’ll have plenty of chances with other guests by always offering an exceptional experience.