Do you ever worry about getting a bad review? You're not alone. I, too, have had the concern. I've also heard it at least a hundred times from other vacation rental owners and property managers, so you're among many like-minded peers.

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dannydanny
5 months ago

Thanks for the post @johnmakro, brilliant article.

“Transparency is the currency of trust for millennials and the future.” 👍

Being a millennial, I couldn't agree more. Especially with the reviews & ratings. I myself will not consider a vacation rental unless it has multiple reviews. I'm ashamed to admit it but I often don't read reviews! I purely base my decision on their overall rating compared to other rentals close by 😓.

So, for me, a bad review would be probably be ignored, if it didn't affect the overall rating and majority opinion 😉

johnmakrojohnmakro
5 months ago

Thanks Danny, that's definitely interesting to hear. I wonder if that's a common trend among millennial travelers, to not spend time reading reviews and instead just check the overall rating? If that's the case, I'm sure most homeowners that rent their properties would be really relieved to know this!

SeanConwaySeanConway
5 months ago

With online booking platforms, there is no way to hide bad guest experiences. Feedback on homeowners and their service is available for all to see and they depend on positive reviews for survival. If this has happened to any homowners out there, check out the guide to overcoming bad reviews and turning them positive: http://blog.pillowhomes.com/spin-negative-airbnb-reviews-positive . The main takeaway from this article is not that a host must provide an amazing experience, but an experience that lives up to the expectations that were set in the property's listing and photos. Make sure the listing is an accurate description of what can be expected and offered.

If you receive a bad review, you can hope your future guests just look at the average rating and don't read individual reviews (like Danny)! You can also see it as an opportunity to reach out to your dissatisfied guest and find a way to neutralize the bad review and publicize to some extent how you were able to address the issues. However, the best advice really depends on the review!

jbozekjbozek
5 months ago

Thank you for this article, it highlights the pain points, the upside potential and the processes, also supported by those statistics!

Drilling down and having experienced many examples of complaint and congratulations over the years, there are so many good pointers:

Trust in VR - The old adage modified

It takes time to build, a second to break and an eternity to heal.

Trust

Building trust in VR is getting harder as the OTA's invade the space and the private opportunity to show more than just reviews drops. Airbnb got this right with their guest reviews as well​ and their more personal approach. As they scale this will see less trust as the inventory increases, the local opportunity decreases for owners and the "panic to promote" means less disclosure of the pain points in properties.

As mentioned, giving a real face to the property, the people and true expectations results in less anguish and greater trust and therefore reputation, referrals and repeat business. its a great way to run a business.

Millennial distrust is from less interaction at a human level

OTA's however, rely on reviews and clearly the coming millennials​ who will turn into child weaning "mid-30-somes", have inherited distrust due to less interaction at a human level and more online awareness,which​h with instant gratification is where they win.

This distrust is borne out of where things are not always as they appear and criminals hide behind digital cover in far flung places. No wonder reviews are important to millenials and big brands.

Social

Social proofing is important and many of us have heard the phrase: "I'll destroy you on social media" from those anger ,merchants and professional rechargers. This is another net derived human trait, that despite easy human interaction and resolution between fair thinking humans, it initiates with a hostile challenge.

Social media and proofing is valuable, but is also ephemeral, unless it has viral capacity, which is rare, whereas actual reviews on the major sites is not. TripAdvisor has been a boon for many and a disaster for others, whether deserved or not.

Reviews

Reviews are here to stay however and how this is addressed is important espcially in VR, an inconsistent experience with 6m different products managed by milions of people with different cultures, expectations and opinions (owners and guests).

There are lots of sites that now want your business to be part of their review platform. Feefo, Trustpilot are two well known ones. These often work in slightly different ways but the overall efffect is the same, there are endless reviews and the smart managers or owners reply to complaints or downgrading quickly and thoughtfully which can be a bonus to a potential guest themselves.

Disconnect between manager & third-party

In this industry not all owners or managers actually undertake the cleaning, repairs and linen changes and it is subcontracted. There is a disconnect at this point and a manager/agency can have its reputation wrecked by a third party service and this is something that poses a problem to many businesses and how the reviews are managed. The liablity and often truth are elusive in separated businesses and communication can be delayed, which can exacerbate things.

How people review OTA's

The VR industry has also seen its own drive to critique and complain about its suppliers. Any guest checking Ownersdirect (a HomeAway company) and a very popular site in years gone by, on Trustpilot, will get a shock:

https://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.ownersdirect.co.uk

Interesting that HomeAway has not responded though!

Millenial statistics?

What would be really interesting is to know what percentage of millenials and other demographics actually read reviews or do they simply look at the star rating and only read the reviews if they are less than say 4/5 stars.

The millennials​ move faster, click more rapidly and despite their overall distrust, will follow the big web brands (Amazon, Booking.com etc), whereas us ancient ones, know that the big brands are smarter than your average Yogi Bear and reveiws can be "managed2 and prices higher.

All about money

In addition big commerce relies on pushing the best to the top as is monetises better and its all about inventory size, not quality or service. These float to the top naturally in a transactional business.

Speaking to some hotels who have 5 star reviews shows that they are offered even higher positions for higher commissions. In this situation the hard workd and brilliant reviews results in less income per booking!

Overrated

Reviews are also subjective and a slip up or down on a star rating may overly affect the total score and in so doing slip below the critical number for a potential guest to review or enter the "look to book" journey.

This article highlights this fact:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2016/06/hotels-are-overrated

Conclusion

Which ever way this is looked at, reviews are important and managing them well can be a major contribution to any business. Cares needs taking and everybody involved needs to follow the "trust and honesty" approach.

Antonio BortolottiAntonio Bortolotti
5 months ago

Very nice overview, thanks for taking the time to write such comments.

To back you up on how OTAs are being reviewed by both owners/managers and guests here is also what people say about VRBO:

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/online/vrbo.html

Not really shocking for those of us (many) who know these things well...

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