Managers Owners In an increasingly competitive vacation rental market, you have to do things differently to help you stand out from the rest. That might be a matter of using well-staged photos on your website, having features and facilities that others don't offer, and making sure your rental rate is set fairly. But, there's another key component that can drive more inquiries than anything else. The feedback from your previous cottage rental guests is the most valuable piece of marketing you have. Their testimonials about how they enjoyed their vacation, what they found the best about your property and the personal anecdotes they share with you, is better than any creative language you or your agency could devise to describe the experience. Take these examples: The Cottage and the location were superb!! Loved the privacy and the tranquility. Would come again in a heartbeat. We knew we made the right choice when our boys asked if we could return next year after being here for only 5 minutes!! The Cottage is lovely, well equipped and the views are outstanding! Thank you After two weeks here it feels like home and it is difficult to go!! This is a beautiful area! It gave us a peaceful and relaxing place to play with the boys without the distractions of everyday life! Thank you, we all had a wonderful time. Highlights for the 2 teenagers were the waterfront area, hot tub and comfortable beds! The girls enjoyed having table tennis tournaments with each other. The 9 year old loved everything and is already asking to come back next year. Adults – complete relaxation. I loved the quiet and peaceful setting. How could anyone looking at these commendations not want to know more? After all, these are comments from real people…..or are they? That is the big issue. Any owner could fabricate a bunch of testimonials like these and it isn't uncommon to see listings with dozens of positive remarks. You can't list the names and contact information for your raving fans on your site for privacy reasons, so what do you do to show the comments you've included are genuine? If you have a visitors book and your guests leave comments, contact them and ask if they would be willing for you to give up their telephone number to a potential guest who is looking for a recommendation. Most people are happy to do that. If you have a blog, you can set up a page where guests can leave feedback after their vacation. Make sure you have an anti-spamming plug-in though, and the ability to review comments before they are posted. Send a post-vacation questionnaire and ask for a testimonial you can post on your website. Satisfied guests are often very willing to do this. And what happens if you have negative feedback? Well, it's OK not to post that on your website, but just make sure you do something about it. Contact the renters and apologize for any shortfall they experienced in their vacation; offer them something to make up for it – perhaps a dinner voucher or cinema tickets, if it was a small oversight. For issues that were beyond your control, such as extended power outages or breakdown of a non-essential facility such as a hot tub, offering a free or heavily discounted weekend break out of season, goes a long way to win back a disgruntled guest. For major issues such as catastrophic plumbing breakdowns or rodent infestation, a refund is the only response. Hopefully, all your feedback will be positive and you can use the testimonials as a marketing tool. Just be sure to ask if it is OK and hold copies of that permission in your files.