In the online marketing and vacation rental world, one of the most difficult prospects that must be dealt with is gathering quality reviews via Yelp, Google Plus, and other reviewing platforms. Sometimes it can seem like—no matter how amazing your vacation rentals are—you can’t get a single person to review your services! Either that, or the small handful of people that had a legitimately bad experience start slandering your good name all over the web. It’s a problem that most face, and one that is not easy to solve; fortunately, however, there are some steps you can take to improve the average of those all-consuming stars, and show the world what you already know quite well—that your rentals really are worth the money! So, without further ado, here is the Streamline way to better online reviews!
If you’re like the majority of vacation rental property management companies, chances are, your Yelp or Google Plus profiles are akin to the wastelands in Wild West movies—empty, with a tumbleweed bouncing harmlessly down the road. The main reason for this is because renters don’t normally think about leaving online reviews; that’s why it’s your job to make sure that action is in the forefront of their minds!
A fantastic way of doing just that is creating review business cards that ask your renters to visit your online review profiles, and giving it to them while they are in the midst of their relaxing vacation. Just have your housekeeper leave them on the pillows whenever they get a chance; it won’t guarantee a good review, but it will ensure that prospective reviewers have the thought planted in their mind.
Review cardstock Table Toppers are also a great way to do the same thing while giving you a bit extra space to be fun and creative. Just set them up in all your units and watch as the reviews start trickling in!
While effective—in our experience—cards and TableToppers are a very passive way of bringing attention to your online review profiles. This means it can be VERY easy for your tenants to avoid them, miss them, or outright ignore them. As such, guest check-in calls are arguably an even better way to garner quality reviews.
Why, you may ask? Well, not only are you able to make them more actively aware of your review profiles, guest check-in calls are an amazing way to make sure your guests are actually having a good time. If they are, you get bonus points for being a concerned property manager, just looking out for all your guests. If they aren’t, you get the opportunity to fix whatever issue may be plaguing them!
Remember; it’s a lot easier to leave a bad review online than it is to actively reach out to the property manager and complain. This means that—if you don’t actively attempt to solve the issues of your renters—the likelihood of receiving a bad review goes through the roof! If you do your due diligence and call each and every one of your renters to see how their stay is going, you can avoid this catastrophe. This may even improve the chances that your guests will leave a quality review. Everyone loves a concerned property manager, after all!
Checkout and Post-Checkout emails are yet another way to make sure your guests aren’t just going to leave their dream vacation without letting everyone know how great it was. Not only does this give you a chance to ask how their stay was, it also gives you the opportunity to:
1.Give your guests a direct link to wherever you want the review posted
2.Remind them, once they have left, that they can still post that review! (This makes sure their vacation isn’t “out of sight, out of mind”, a major reason quality reviews never get posted)
Don’t be overzealous with these emails, but do make sure that you are sending them once or twice—just to remind them. If you don’t, even someone who had an amazing vacation may just walk away without reviewing.
Up till this point, these tips have been all about attracting reviews in general—a very important part of improving your review portfolio. But, what do you do when the inevitable “bad apple” shows up with the dreaded 1-star review? After all, there’s no way to avoid that, is there?
Fortunately, there is a way called “review pre-qualification pages”
With review pre-qualification, you can attract those shiny 5-star reviews AND keep those bad apples away from your online profiles, all so you can maintain your online reputation. This works through a simplified review design that works thusly:
1. First, create a web page on your site with thumbs up and thumbs down buttons, denoting whether or not the renter had a good time with your rental. This will be a custom URL where you will send all prospective reviewers when asking them to review your company.
2. If they had a good experience staying at your property, they will be directed to click the thumbs up button, which takes them to this screen. From there, they will be allowed to click their review profile of choice—normally Yelp or Google+—which will then take them to said review platform. Once there, they can leave their positive review and improve your online rating.
3. If a guest, or guests, had a bad experience and click the thumbs down option, they will be taken to an email form where they will have the chance to vent and let you know all about their bad experience. However, it will NOT take them to your online rating profiles; the email they create in this form and send will only be sent to you, thus keeping it private and out of the eyes of Google, Yelp, and your prospective future customers
Though many determined internet warriors may indeed continue on to leave a bad review, this pre-qualification process can do wonders to dissuade those who were only slightly inconvenienced, allowing you to preserve your online reputation, and allowing them to get their point across without making it public. In many cases, this is also a great way for you to get tips about what YOU can do to improve the services you provide!
Streamline also offers a phone app that sends push notifications during and after stays, making it so your renters are easily reminded to leave reviews. You can also email newsletters—where you would leave your custom pre-qualification URL, in addition to the newsletter message—as well as ask homeowners and realtors that are in your network (and love your services) to leave quality reviews online.
All of these are fantastic methods near guaranteed to improve your online reputation; all you need to do is make sure to strike a balance! Though we certainly recommend utilizing the majority of these tips, if you use and overuse all of them, you run the risk of annoying your renters and causing a backlash, which oftentimes works against your original goal to improve your online reputation.
Just make sure that you are getting the word out about your online rating profiles, and you are sure to see an improvement! For more information, contact us today and we’ll do everything we can to improve your ratings and attract new renters and homeowners.
– Josh Guerra, Bizcor