Why Reviews Management Matters for Short-Term Rentals
Reviews Management is now part of Distribution Engine
Reviews Management: Quick Summary
Careful management of guest and host reviews is vital to the success of a modern short-term rental business. From establishing trust to meeting expectations, your review game has to be on point. But many property management companies dedicate hours each week to it, begging the question, do the benefits justify the time investment? Fortunately, new technologies can make managing reviews faster, easier, and likely even better.
Hopefully, by now, you don’t need more convincing that guest reviews, a.k.a. social proof, are critically important to your short-term rental business. Not only can they weigh heavily on the purchase decision, but they can either burnish or damage your hard-earned reputation. But if you have many properties under management, it’s safe to assume that managing reviews eats up a good chunk of your average week. You might be asking yourself, is all this time and energy still worth the headache?
The short answer is yes. But let’s briefly review why.
Reviews are ultimately a form of word-of-mouth advertising. Like word of mouth, they’re cheap, valuable, peer-to-peer, and generally more credible than paid advertising. Guests place more trust in the opinions of strangers than in any flowery language you use to describe your listings. They build consensus around the quality of your experience, especially relative to your pricing. Most importantly, they help reassure guests that they’re choosing wisely.
Authenticity and transparency
You can tell a lot about the people behind a short-term rental company just by how they respond to reviews. A personable but professional approach is vital in asking for and responding to reviews. To anyone reading, you are not you—you’re the company or property in question. Being human is as important as being open and honest. It shows you’re a natural person with nothing to hide, not some bot programmed to deliver generic responses.
Unless all your properties are luxury, five-star dream homes, you probably have a few that are merely nice. That’s okay. However, creating realistic expectations sets the stage for satisfied guests. Your listings should put every property in the best possible light. But if reviews suggest that you misrepresented it, pay attention. Disappointment is the No. 1 driver of poor reviews.
Feedback and metrics
Assuming you value continuous improvement, reviews can be a valuable source of feedback. As you know, some people aren’t happy with much of anything. But if you repeatedly see the same comments, e.g., “Very uncomfortable mattresses” or “Unreliable WiFi,” that’s a sign of a legitimate problem. Looking at the booking performance of individual properties relative to their reviews can also be instructive.
Search rankings and attentiveness
Believe it or not, the consistency with which you read and respond to reviews factors into search results. It shows that you’re active in the channels where your listings appear. Every login and response carries some weight that can add up over time. That activity is visible to lookers, too. If they’re booking a summer vacation in March, but you haven’t responded to a review since the previous December, that can say something about how attentive you are.
The proof is in the pudding. If you claim to deliver a wonderful rental experience that delights guests worldwide, you must be active and professional with reviews, or that message will ring false. Of course, the option to leave guest reviews means this works both ways.
So, yes, it’s still worth the time you currently invest. But could that time be shortened somehow? Can technology make responding to and leaving guest reviews much more efficient while actually delivering better results? As we say in Minnesota, you betcha.
At our recent user conference, NEXT, we announced that Reviews Management is coming very soon to Track PMS, specifically as a feature for our newly launched Distribution Engine. Soon, Distribution Engine customers will be able to manage their reviews across platforms in one convenient place. No more logging into Airbnb, Booking.com, etc. Cool, right?
Our next post will dig deeper into the time currently needed to manage reviews and what you can do about it, including a sneak peek at Reviews Management.