Guests trust other guests. That’s why earning good reviews (and reminding guests to leave reviews in the first place) is critical to your success as a vacation rental owner. Depending on your vacation rental’s location, competition for bookings can be fierce. And a steady stream of 5-star reviews online can be what convinces a guest to choose your home over all the others.
Plus, the better your reviews, the higher you’ll rank in Airbnb’s search results. That means more visibility and more bookings on their platform.
Here are 5 expert strategies to help prompt 5-star reviews from every guest.
It all starts here—with honesty and realistic expectations. Don’t exaggerate your home’s appeal or hide any pitfalls. The truth will come out eventually in the form of a bad review.
Is the road leading up to your mountain cabin bumpy, rough terrain? Express that your vacation home is best for travelers with four-wheel drive, instead of putting guests at risk of getting stuck on the drive over. Is your oceanfront condo next to a boisterous beach bar? Being upfront about it in your listing description—and setting expectations—will make it easier to keep complaints at bay and still keep guests happy.
You can also consider reframing any potential negative as a positive, while being transparent at the same time. For example, describe the noisy beach bar as the “pulsing heart of our boardwalk” or “a lively and popular gathering spot for locals.”
Learn how to write persuasive Airbnb and vacation rental listing descriptions that will compel guests to book.
A pristine vacation home is essential for today’s travelers. Clean is now synonymous with safe and sanitized. When guests first walk through your front doors, they tend to feel excited for the vacation to come, while also concerned with how clean everything is. When was the last time those bed sheets were laundered? Are the dishes really clean?
After all, unlike hotels, most vacation rentals are individually owned without a professional cleaning staff. (Vacasa is one of the few vacation rental management companies in North America that employs housekeepers.) Hire a housecleaner so your home is spotless upon check in. This will put guests at ease and set the scene for a 5-star experience worth raving about.
Follow this vacation rental cleaning checklist to make your home as immaculate as possible for every guest stay.
How do you turn a so-so visit into something special? Over-deliver amenities. Show guests you’ve really thought about their experience and their comfort. Suffice to say, cover the necessities first. This includes things like plush towels, a coffee maker, hand soap, and WiFi.
Then, go above and beyond with your extras. Have a lake house? Stock thoughtful amenities like outdoor folding chairs, marshmallow roasting sticks, and beach towels. If you cater to families, do parents a favor by offering high chairs, easy-to-install baby gates, playpens, and non-breakable dinnerware for kids.
For a comprehensive list of all the essentials guests need and the extras they want, check out our ultimate inventory checklist for vacation rentals.
To truly understand what makes (or breaks) an extraordinary stay, put yourself in your guests’ shoes. Book yourself a night or two in a vacation rental to get their perspective. Even better, stay at a home similar to yours (look for one with consistently high reviews) in the same area.
In the hotel industry, this is called shopping your competition. During your stay, evaluate what the homeowner is doing right and what they can improve. Most of all, use this newfound personal insight to shape your own vacation rental business.
Another way to learn from your competition is to read their guest reviews and see what guests complain about or praise them for. Guests leave behind a goldmine of intel. For instance, you’ll likely discover that aesthetics matter to guests and that a beautifully designed vacation home goes a long way in influencing the ratings and reviews they leave.
Yes, that’s right. Just ask for it. Even if you deliver a more-than-perfect guest experience, provide unique amenities, and stay on call 24/7, guests may still not leave a review. They often forget. Or, they simply don’t understand what reviews mean to you or how they impact your business. Another common scenario: they may score you with 4 stars, assuming that’s an excellent ranking (it’s not—it can actually drive down your score on Airbnb).
The lesson? Don’t be coy about asking your guests for the full 5 stars.
First, plant the idea early. Consider checking in with your guests mid-stay and let them know you’re striving for 5-star customer service. Ask how their stay is and if they need anything. It’s better to fix that broken light bulb or air conditioning unit right away, rather than leave it as fodder for a mediocre or bad review.
At Vacasa, we stay in regular communication with guests. A few days after they check out, we send out an email directly asking for their review. Even better, we make it easy for guests to post that same review to popular review sites, including Google and Trustpilot. (We’ve seen our own reviews increase by doing this.) Having reviews posted elsewhere online not only reaches an even bigger audience, it boosts your search rankings, too.
Here are some sample messages to include in a post-stay email:
Even with your best intentions, bad reviews can still happen. If so, here’s how to respond to reviews that are less than stellar.
Most travelers like to do their due diligence before booking a vacation rental. That means closely examining your listing description, your photos, and most importantly, other guests’ experience in your home. Follow these strategies every time to urge guests to leave 5-star reviews and drive future bookings.
The key is to stay in communication with your guests throughout the entire stay, not just after they check out. Tell them candidly that you’re striving for a 5-star stay and ask them how their stay is going, if they need anything, and if everything is up to their standards. This gives you a chance to solve any issues before they show up in a review.
The best time to contact guests about leaving a review (and to tell them that you’d appreciate 5 stars) is on the last day of their stay, before they check out. Once check-out is complete, Airbnb will automatically prompt them to leave a review and a star rating.
Most travelers who prefer Airbnb over hotels are drawn to staying in unique and special homes. The key to winning over guests’ hearts (and wallets) on Airbnb is by offering delightful moments and amenities that go beyond vacation rental basics (clean and stocked with the necessities). For instance, many Airbnb guests are drawn to homes with remarkable, immersive design, like this Oregon cabin or this charming Michigan cottage.
At Vacasa, our homeowners can work with our interior design team to bring more color, personality, and bookings to their vacation homes.
After guests check out, Airbnb will ask them to write a review and provide a star rating on their recent stay. Guests have up to 14 days to leave you a review and can’t edit a review beyond that. As the Airbnb host, you’ll also have up to 14 days to leave a review of the guest, if you’d like. The reviews are then posted after both you and your guests leave a review (or after the 14-day period has ended—whichever happens first). Airbnb also allows you to share private feedback with your guests once reviews are posted. Read more on Airbnb’s review policy.
Call 844-518-0967 to speak with a Homeowner Consultant, who can answer preliminary questions and see if we’d be a good fit for you.
If you'd like to move forward, we’ll put you in touch with our market expert in your neighborhood to explore the financial potential of your home, outline our management fee, and introduce your local team.
Vacasa offers property management and other real estate services directly through Vacasa LLC and through Vacasa LLC's licensed subsidiaries. Click here for more information about Vacasa's licensed real estate brokerage/property manager in your state. Vacasa’s licensed real estate brokerages/property managers include: Vacasa Alabama LLC; Vacasa Arizona LLC; Vacasa of Arkansas LLC; Vacasa Colorado LLC (Micah Victory); Vacasa Delaware LLC, 302-541-8999; Vacasa Florida LLC; Vacasa Illinois LLC 481.014072, Micah Victory Managing Broker Lic# 471.021837; Vacasa Louisiana LLC, Dana MacCord, Principal Broker, ph 504.252.0155 (Licensed in LA); Vacasa Michigan LLC, 602-330-9934; Vacasa Missouri LLC, Vicki Lyn Brown, Designated Broker; Vacasa Nevada LLC; Vacasa New Hampshire LLC,45 NH-25, Meredith, NH 03253, Susan Scanlon, Broker of Record; Vacasa Minnesota, Broker: Micah Victory, license #40877637; Vacasa New Mexico LLC, 503-345-9399; Vacasa New York LLC, 888-433-0068, Susan Scanlon, Real Estate Broker; Vacasa North Carolina LLC; Vacasa Oregon LLC; Vacasa Pennsylvania LLC; Vacation Palm Springs Real Estate, Inc., California DRE #01523013, Mark Graham, California DRE #00700720; Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Texas, Debra Brock, Designated Broker); Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Washington, Robert Brush, Designated Broker); Vacasa Seasonals Inc., California DRE #02160171, Lisa Renee Stevens, California DRE #01485234; Vacasa South Carolina LLC; Vacasa South Dakota LLC; Vacasa Tennessee LLC; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Hawaii LLC, 69-201 Waikoloa Beach Dr. Ste. #2F17, Waikoloa, HI 96738; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Montana LLC, Terah M. Young, Licensed Property Manager; Vacasa Virginia LLC; Vacasa Wisconsin LLC; Vacasa Wyoming LLC. In Canada, this advertisement is provided by Vacasa Canada ULC, CPBC lic. number 75826, 172 Asher Rd. V1X 3H6 Kelowna, BC.