Friday, March 29, 2013

3 Ways to Get More Online Reviews Faster

Set the table with great customer service
and glowing online reviews will be easier to get.


Online reviews will make or break you. If you don't have any reviews on your properties, you will lose bookings to a similar property with reviews. The thing is, you'll never know about those lost bookings. Folks will just go elsewhere.

You should be working to get online reviews on every one of your properties, all the time. Even if you have a dozen favorable reviews on a property, if those reviews are 2 years old, they lose importance to both the customer and the search engines.

What's more, you should constantly be monitoring your online reviews and responding to each and every one. If it's a glowing review, say "Thank you" to the reviewer. That's one easy way you can give your business personality and warmth. If it's a good review with a complaint or two, respond and let everyone know you've fixed the problem. And if it's a review that unfairly cuts you off at the knees, go ahead and defend yourself. If you think it's a competitor trying to make you look bad, go ahead and say so in your response. Just be sure to give plenty of supporting evidence as to why the review is way out of line.

It wouldn't be a stretch to say that a handful of 3 and 4 star reviews with a few complaints that you've addressed and responded to are better than no reviews at all. So here are some tips on how to get more online reviews for your vacation rentals, faster.

3 online reviews for this property. 5 and 4 stars. Read
how the manager responds to each review. Well done.
1. Aggressive Customer Service. When we say "aggressive," we mean customer service that blows the customer away with how fantastic it is. Treat every guest like an honored guest. Go the extra mile versus what your competition is doing. If your customers can walk away feeling like they've been treated like Kings and Queens, and their children like Princes and Princesses, then you've done Job 1 when it comes to getting a great review (this is, of course, assuming your properties are impeccably maintained, which they need to be if you want 5 star reviews).

2. Customer Service that Thinks, "Get the Review." Have systems in place to get reviews. Every interaction should be aimed at building towards the customer leaving a glowing online review. When guests check in, ask them to let you know about any problems they discover. Then, when you fix the dripping faucet, ask them how they would rate your service. When they show up at your front desk looking for beach equipment, pointedly ask them if they're satisfied. The idea is to build up a "yes's" during the course of their stay, much as a sales person builds yes's during the course of a sale.

3. Ask for the Online Review--a Couple of Times. When guests check out, ask them how their stay was. If it's glowing, hand them a card with web addresses where they can leave online reviews. If you have their email address, send a follow up email with the same links. If you don't have their email address, get it. If they prefer Facebook, ask them to leave a comment on your wall saying what a great time they had. Send them online surveys about their stay, and give them a chance to leave reviews at the end of the survey.

Don't be shy, but don't be too pushy either. In all likelihood, you're not asking enough, so amping it up a bit probably won't hurt anything. Be creative -- but don't resort to buying reviews. The search engines and review services are getting very good at sniffing out fake or purchased reviews.

You can be fairly honest with people as you try to build and maintain current reviews for your properties. Most people understand how important they are--they likely use them to decide on a variety of purchases. So if you simply say, "Did you enjoy your stay? Yes?  Great, could you perhaps write a short online review for us--we're trying to build reviews for the property you stayed in," you stand a great chance of succeeding.

Of course, getting great online reviews depends entirely on providing a great property at a fair price that's supported with excellent customer service. If you do all three, then getting more online reviews should be easy.

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