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VACATION RENTALS: WHY 5-STAR REVIEWS MATTER & HOW TO GET THEM
In today’s client-centered business environment ratings and reviews are crucial for all different types of business. Hotels and restaurants are some of the most widely reviewed businesses, with vacation rentals being subject to the same rating scrutiny, if not more so, given the uncertainty that surrounds them.
As such, having highly-ranked, positive reviews is a vital component to the overall success of the vacation property, from both a booking and revenue generation standpoint. Having 5-star reviews means higher rankings, leading to greater visibility, greater booking volume and ultimately more revenue. Ideally, invested property owners who understand the importance of consistent good reviews understand that the “holy grail” is to consistently achieve more 5-star reviews.
The difference between a 4-star and a 5-star review can be quite remarkable. When choosing between two properties which are nearly identical, let’s say comparable in price, location, and size, who wouldn’t go with the 5-star rated home? At Luxury Simplified Retreats, our reviews are based on five general criteria which guests can rate us on, using a 1-5 scale, 5 obviously reflecting the highest level of satisfaction.
Services from Rental Manager
The first of these measures is one which we are solely responsible for. It is completely up to us to impress rental clients with our management services right from the start and failure to do so will result in a poor rating. To this end, in this category we implement a number of different strategies. From day one, we want a client’s booking process to be seamless and highly personalized, and as such, respond directly to any inquiries by either email or by phone. Once the booking is made, our guests can expect a series of emails to arrive, sharing vital information they will need before they travel. One week prior, one of our Retreat Concierge team members will contact the guest to arrange check-in and, more often than not, we will meet the guest at the property upon arrival, to show them in, show them around and ensure that everything they need is in place. After check in, they have a personal phone number and Retreat Concierge that remains their point of contact throughout their stay to answer any questions they may have or help make arrangements for dining and entertainment.
Cleanliness is one of the most important factors that has a major impact on the enjoyment of a client’s stay in a vacation rental. You want to ensure that the property is immaculate on each and every check in. And, while we outsource our cleaning to a number of different companies who are responsible for the cleanliness of the property, we have chosen some of the best and most highly reputable firms available. It is after all, ultimately our responsibility to ensure that cleaning is timely, done properly and that the sheets/towels are in optimum condition for each guest – each and every time. If any stone is left unturned during cleaning it can totally ruin a guest’s experience so it is vitally important that the cleaning is top notch.
Location is inevitably a difficult criteria to change given its literal definition. The vast majority of the homes in our luxury portfolio are in desirable locations, including beachfront on Folly Beach SC or the heart of historic, downtown Charleston SC. But for some rental guests, their location may still be viewed unfavorably for a host of different reasons. They may be a little farther out of town or be in close proximity to a busy/noisy street. In many cases, we can mitigate some of the issues by adding noise machines to minimize street noise, provide bicycles for properties a little further out from the center of town, or arrange for golf carts or bikes on behalf of the client. Though these don’t change the location, they can help to change the perception that a location is less favorable than desired. A bit like “making lemonade out of lemons,” I suppose.
Like cleanliness, providing a vacation home that is well maintained and in good condition is incredibly important for guests to have the vacation experience they are looking forward to. When you’re not staying in a hotel, there are no common standards by which property care is assessed and no easy way to ‘change rooms’ if something is deemed unsatisfactory to the rental guest. Therefore, we make every effort to ensure that property condition is the best it can be. Here at Luxury Simplified Retreats, we have a maintenance team that completes regular checks of each of our homes. A typical check includes checking that all light bulbs work, air filters are changed regularly, plumbing fixtures are tight and wall scuffs are removed. They are also on call to address any property care issue that may occur during or outside of a guest stay. Having maintenance on staff means that we are able to react quickly to any issues which might negatively impact a guest experience.
In the end, receiving a 5-star rating is ultimately a reflection of a guest’s “overall experience” … from beginning, middle and end. A review of the total experience of a rental guest includes a culmination of services from rental management as it relates to each of the criteria of cleanliness, location and property condition – and offers an opportunity for us to ask, “How did we do?”
Lastly, we ask our guests if they would “recommend to others?” So far, we have yet to receive a “No,” – and we don’t take that lightly! It is after all, an honor for us to provide exceptional service to our guests at the highest level. It is easy as a management company to say that “all our rental homes are excellent and come highly recommended,” but when it comes from someone who actually stayed there, it has far greater meaning for potential guests.
Striving for 5-star reviews is crucial for all business types, but doubly so for luxury vacation rentals. This will ensure repeat guests, highlight your property on booking sites, in turn increasing reservation numbers and ultimately growing your revenue. As a property manager and a homeowner, there’s more you can do to increase your revenue – such as properly staging your Charleston SC vacation rental – and it’s our goal to help you get there. See how staging your rental in the right way can help your bottom line …