There simply is nowhere to hide in this review driven industry. Every guest who stays with you will be asked for a review by the booking site they used. If they enjoy their stay they will shout it from the rooftops and their perfect reviews will lead your property to be highly sought after. Bookings will come flying in. Having excellent reviews means you won’t have to compete on price so can charge a premium. You will attract a better quality of guest. However bad reviews will cause the exact opposite to happen. Follow these 5 pointers and you will be guaranteed to get perfect reviews.
1. Have a good property
Ok this might seem obvious but it really surprises me how many places I see that in my opinion are just not suitable for paying guests. The location, finish and facilities all play a part in making an apartment desirable. And it’s all common sense. The goal is to wow guests with a first impression and over-deliver on their expectations during their stay.
Location: Generally tourists and leisure visitors want to be close to the action. Whether that’s tourist attractions, bars & restaurants or at the very least a decent supermarket! They don’t want to stay in the ghetto or miles away from anything worth seeing.
Finish: Purchasing or renovating a property with an attitude of “that’ll do” is the wrong way to go. Guests are paying customers and they expect a minimum standard no matter what they’ve paid. Inevitably that means upgrading or replacing much of what was already in the property. Curtains, floors, furniture and often kitchens and bathrooms! Just because a property is passable for long term tenants it does not mean it is suitable for short term guests.
Facilities: On a very basic level if an apartment sleeps 6 people then it should have comfortable seating for 6 people as well as (at least) 6 knives/forks etc. It amazes me how often I see this not happening. There are obvious other necessities such as Wi-Fi, heating, laundry and cooking facilities. Offering free on site parking will provide a massive boost. The ratio of bathrooms to guests should be considered. I think any more than 4 people per bathroom is pushing it. Imagine the queue in the morning!
2. Meet and Greet
Meeting guests when they arrive is extremely effective in securing perfect reviews. It’s human nature to respond positively to a friendly smiling face. It definitely takes some effort but if you can develop a rapport with guests in the short time you have them then the review will almost certainly be positive. They have likely been travelling for hours and are in unfamiliar surroundings. They probably got lost on the way and need some food (or a large drink).
A warm welcome from a local can really help to make guests feel they have arrived and allows them to switch off travelling mode a little faster. A few local recommendations of the best nearby bars or restaurants and a quick demonstration of how to use that quirky x or y you have in your property will make them feel settled in much quicker. A friendly conversation can never be replicated by an email or guest manual.
Meet and greets really are the gifts that just keep on giving. Not only will they secure you a good review but they will often save you from a bad one. Several times we have had an unexpected disaster happen during a guest’s stay. And in every situation where we met those guests at check in they either left us a perfect review anyway or just didn’t leave a review at all.
3. Being attentive to your guests
Once your guest has checked in this is often when the hard works starts! It’s good practice to contact guests after check in to see if they’re settled in and if they need anything? Most of the time they respond saying no thanks everything is great. But often they will have a question about something or a small issue with the property. It is VITAL that this is responded to effectively as the guest has just given you an opportunity to demonstrate exceptional customer service.
Spending a small amount of time can produce amazing results. Say they ask about the best vegan restaurants nearby. You might wonder (I would!) why they haven’t asked Google or TripAdvisor. But they decided to ask you. Even if you’ve never been to a vegan restaurant in your life you can do 5 minutes of research and give a recommendation. If they say “Oh the apartment could do with a potato peeler” or some other random thing, GO AND GET IT. It’s that simple. It’s an opportunity to give real value to your guest for free and they will remember it when it comes to leaving a review.
4. Make sure it’s clean
Cleanliness is probably the main thing guests will complain about in a review. Everything else can be perfect but if a guest finds a short and curly on their pillow they will not be happy. 1 little area not cleaned properly can drag down the guest’s impression of the entire place from great to grubby. Common areas that can easily be missed when cleaning include checking cooking equipment like pots/pans, oven, cutlery etc.
Guests like to think they are the first people staying in the property. They do not want to see the remnants of the previous guest’s dinner stuck to the bottom of the frying pan. There are a million other little areas that guests always seem to find dirt like under beds, between sofa cushions etc. Finding cleaners that will deliver a consistent standard can be tricky. Every drawer and cupboard needs to be opened and checked/emptied which can be tricky for domestic cleaners to get their head around. Checking over their work is important as things can often be missed. A fresh eye can spot things quickly. If I can see something within 5 minutes then a guest will certainly see it in 5 days.
There are certain freebies that guests expect to be waiting in your property when they arrive. Tea, coffee and milk are a basic hospitality standard throughout the world. Each tea bag or coffee sachet costs a few pennies. Providing these things alone won’t get any glowing reviews. It’s expected. In fact not providing them will probably get you a few bad reviews!
Then there are other things they don’t always expect. This is where you can earn some bonus points! Toiletries can be purchased in bulk and replaced/topped up for each new set of guests. Snacks such as crisps or biscuits cost a bit more but will definitely go down well and will make a great first impression when weary guests arrive in late at night. Access to a Netflix account on the TV is another little treat for guests. Just make sure you don’t use your personal account or you’ll lose your place in all your favourite shows!
The most effective freebie? Booze of course! Alcohol is by far the most effective (and expensive) freebie that you can leave for guests. Decent wine can be bought in bulk for about £4 per bottle. The price is similar for a 6 back of beer. I’ve lost count of the amount of times guests have let out a shriek of delight when I tell the there’s a bottle of wine or beers in the fridge for them. It gets mentioned in so many reviews.
BONUS TIP: Number 6. Ask for one!
What’s the worst that can happen?! After your guests have checked out. Send them a quick email thanking them for choosing to stay with you and ask them for a review of 10/10 or 5 stars etc. You’ve nothing to lose by asking. If they email back with reasons as to why they can’t leave a perfect review then you have valuable feedback to work on for the next guests. It also increases the chances that they will refrain from leaving you a bad one.
I started this post by saying there’s nowhere to hide in this review driven industry and that really is true. But by getting negative feedback directly instead of publicly in a review you have the chance to rectify any issues without having your reputation damaged by bad reviews.