I realized recently how much I use review sites for anything from checking out movies on IMDB; books on Amazon; RV Sites on RV Park Reviews and of course vacation rentals on Trip Advisor. My son & his wife have just climbed Mt Kilimanjaro and been on safari in the Masai Mara with an Africa Adventure company found by trawling through reviews on Frommer’s, Fodor’s and Lonely Planet. Unless you are the first to try something out, why wouldn’t you want to know what others who have gone before, felt about their experiences.
Reviews are great for the nuggets of information they provide about places, activities, and attractions and although they reflect the subjective opinion of the writer, it’s pretty easy to read between the lines and discern if personal gripes or a one-off incident has impacted on the nature of the review. We recently got a one star review for Osprey Cottage that is totally overwhelmed by the 29 other high ratings and can easily be seen for the whine it is about being charged for damage.
Having great reviews for your own place is always good to see, but often it is the negative ones that can give an occasional AHA moment. Sometimes you wish the guests had let you know about a complaint before they made it public but it can also give you the opportunity to respond and tell how you have recovered the situation.
From my perspective reviews are most useful for reading about what other owners are doing…or not. They tell you what guests like and what they don’t; what would make their vacations better and what could be improved. I’ve picked up a lot of tips along the way that have been genuinely offered by guests who took time to give their feedback. Here’s four things I’ve learned and now do at Osprey Cottage:
· Leave lights and music on so it feels welcoming when guests arrive at night
· Telephone the cottage about an hour or so after expected arrival and ask if everything is OK
· Always have a spare propane tank for the barbecue so they never run out
· Plant a tub of herbs and leave at the back door for guests to use ( they love that)
There’s lots more little things that can be picked up from reviews. If other owners are getting glowing feedback from the small touches they provide, there’s no reason you can’t too.