Aaron, Co-Founder

We need to talk about reviews

Jul 8
3 min read

Love it or hate it, we live in a “reviews world.” Reviews dictate what restaurants we eat at, what brands we buy, and most importantly - what rental properties we book.

Ask any seasoned short-term rental host and they’ll tell you — one of the hardest parts about getting started with a new listing is the lack of reviews. Why? Because as consumers, we’re obsessed with reviews. Everyone wants to ensure that their experience is a positive one. No one wants to feel deceived, duped, fooled, or worse — have a negative experience!

So we take precautions the best way we know how — in the warm embrace of the reviews. After all, reviewers are people with shared experiences, and they provide us with transparency and trust which eventually influences our decision to press “Reserve.”

You might be reading this thinking, “I understand reviews are important, but like...how important?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Consider some of these mind-boggling stats from Mashvisor, Qualtrics, BrightLocal.

  • 94% of consumers say an online review has convinced them to avoid a business
  • 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020 - up from 81% in 2019
  • 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
  • 73% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written in the last month
  • Reviews account for 25-35% of occupancy rate

Ok, those are some big numbers, and they’re only getting bigger. Reviews are becoming increasingly important. And that’s not all! It also matters how recent the reviews are, the star rating, the message tied to the review, etc.

Platforms like Airbnb don’t exactly make it any easier on hosts. Guests can review overall experience, cleanliness, accuracy, value, communication, check-in, and location. Hosts must have 3 star ratings before an overall rating appears on their listing or profile.

{Deep breath}

Image from Vecteezy

What is a host to do?

Like most things, there’s an obvious downside to our review culture. Negative reviews can seriously hamstring or destroy someone’s rental business. On the other hand, if done correctly, the power of reviews can be leveraged to generate traffic and increase your rental property’s rank. With an increase in demand, owners can charge higher rent and increase their rental income.

Let’s put ourselves in the reviewers’ proverbial shoes: If you’re like most people, you’ve posted a review when your expectations are completely missed or wildly exceeded.

It all circles back to guest expectations. Miss them entirely and you’ll hear about it. Just meet them and you might get a nice review, but it’s unlikely. Exceed them and you’re likely to see a 5 star review showing up soon.

How to exceed guest expectations

There are numerous ‘basic level’ things hosts must do because guests expect it. I’m not going to cover that because, it’s been done more extensively here.

Instead, let’s walk through one of your future guests’ journey together. They arrive at your property, they’re excited. They open the door, check out the kitchen, bedrooms, the pool, the view, they google things to do around town, etc. They’ve made it, they’re done traveling and they’ve escaped their everyday world for a bit. Dopamine is rushing and they feel good. In this moment, whether hosts know it or not, there’s an emotional connection between hosts and guests. The host has made this moment possible.

30-60 minutes later, that feel-good sensation is gone. And so is the emotional connection. Chances that a guest writes a review (especially a good one) based on that one moment is unlikely.

But what if...they get a knock on the door. It’s a delivery of delicious snacks to share, courtesy of their host. Now we’ve created a new surprise moment. A moment of that exceeds expectations.

In a prior blog post, we call these “above and beyond” moments or moments of wow.  The key to the most positive reviews come from guests who have seen something new from their host – something that made their stay a memorable experience.

We live in a “reviews world." Let’s embrace it!

Further reading:

Qualtrics

BrightLocal

Mashvisor

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