You work extremely hard to get reviews. If you're like most users, you ask your guests to post reviews after every booking but only a small fraction do. It can take a decade to build a good list of reviews, and the more you have them the stronger your reputation (and easier your marketing) gets. But how do you hang onto them and use them effectively?
It is extremely important that you collect and store reviews in a third party software system (like OwnerRez!) so that you can retain ownership of them forever and use those reviews in other places. The same is true of guest contact data, financial records and many other things, but we're focusing on reviews in this article.
Often, we talk to users who act as though their reviews on VRBO, TripAdvisor and Airbnb will last forever. They spend a lot of time directing guests to leave reviews in those places - which is a good practice - but then they consider that the end of the line. The mentality goes - as long as reviews are good on the listing sites, your marketing is all set. But that's short-sighted. You should never assume that your reviews are safe with a listing site because:
- You may stop advertising with the listing site which means your listings (and the associated reviews) will be taken down
- Listing sites go out of business - who do you contact to get your reviews?
- Listing sites are acquired by other businesses who change direction, reset review counts or feel that showing reviews are no longer necessary
- Listing sites typically rely on outsourced software, and low-skilled engineering teams, which results in technical glitches and data being lost
- Listing sites impose arbitrary rules and sometimes penalize owners which may include removing reviews arbitrarily
- Your listing may need to be combined with a different account (merging businesses?) and the listing site may remove all your reviews in the process (eg. what TripAdvisor does).
And if all the above doesn't happen, how about the fact that listing sites make obtuse and illogical decisions based on greed and corporate out-of-touch behavior? How much do you love listing sites these days? When's the last time you felt like they were looking after your interests and doing what's best for your business? Nuff said. :-)
The Power of Owning Your Reviews
When you store your reviews in OwnerRez, you can then search them, export the raw data (Excel, CSV, etc) or host them on your personal website. That last part is especially important. If you've already spent years building good reviews on listing sites, you don't want to start over with your own website. Instead, use our Reviews widget to show the reviews you've already gotten.
We make it simple to enter review data manually or import it in bulk from listing sites. Our review engine is flexible to any type of review that you received and can store it no matter the specifics (eg. number of stars in the rating, whether the listing site allows an owner response, etc).
Business Intelligence from Reviews (coming soon)
Storing and using reviews goes way beyond just displaying them. We're hard at work creating business intelligence around the review data. Imagine being able to make calculated decisions like:
- Determine whether a guest is allowed to book again (did they give you a unfair review in the past?)
- See which of your vacation rental properties are being reviewed the best across all listing sites?
- Is there a correlation between better reviews and less-busy times of the year?
- Export lists, and send newsletter blasts, to guests who left good reviews, thanking them and giving out discount codes
- Export lists, and send newsletter blasts, to guests who left bad reviews, apologizing and telling them what has improved since their last stay
Business Automation from Reviews (coming soon)
We're also working on incorporating review data into other types of OwnerRez automation. Imagine using triggers and review data to do things like this:
- Automatically send a "Thank You" email to guests who leave good reviews
- Automatically send a "Sorry you felt that way" email to guests who left bad reviews
- Automatically offer a repeat booking to guests who leave good reviews
Where to get started?
Second, put a reviews widget up on your website so that you can start showing everyone the good reputation you've built.