It’s common knowledge that vacation rental properties along the Gulf Coast, and anywhere else, benefit immensely from maintaining a strong reputation. In the so-called ‘trust economy,’ guests must rely on hosts they’ve never met.
Property managers in Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Pensacola, and Perdido Key are well aware of how crucial reviews are in a guest’s decision-making process, almost as important as price and photos, and how they directly impact conversion rates.
Besides providing an outstanding guest experience, at Luxury Coastal Vacations, we take a proactive approach to gather more positive reviews and mitigate negative ones. Interested in learning our methods?
This blog will outline seven tips to help you secure 5-star reviews for your Gulf Coast beach rental.
Let’s get started.
1. Upload authentic photos of your rental
We’ve already discussed how attractive decor and high-quality photos can enhance the appeal of your beach rental, leading to increased occupancy and revenue. However, if your guests arrive at the rental and find that reality does not match what they saw online, they will be disappointed. Misleading photos are a major source of complaints and negative reviews.
It’s common practice in beach rental photography to stage an alluring scenery and experiment with various angles, but it’s essential to keep in mind that photos can sometimes be misleading.
Before you upload your pictures, perform a reality check: do they genuinely represent your rental in its current condition? While your spaces, furnishings, and appliances don’t necessarily need to be brand new, they should be well-maintained and fully functional.
Furthermore, while it’s important to highlight your rental’s positive features, be careful not to hide any negative aspects through selective framing.
One of the most valuable tips for beach rental photos is to align guests’ expectations with reality as closely as possible — managing expectations directly results in better reviews.
Bella Villa’s waterfront looks stunning in this picture, but if guests were to arrive and discover new buildings surrounding it, an overgrown garden with weeds, and no lounge set, their excitement would turn into disappointment.
2. Be specific and honest in your description
If authentic photos are important, the same principle applies to your property description. It’s easy to become overly enthusiastic when describing your rental, especially when looking to attract bookings. Nevertheless, always take a step back, detach yourself slightly, and view it from an outsider’s perspective, perhaps that of a possible guest.
Your property description is almost as crucial as the images. It should be just as objective, comprehensive, and truthful, capable of preemptively addressing questions.
Feel free to emphasize your unique selling points within the text, but also be forthright when discussing aspects that may not be entirely positive. When guests are aware of potential drawbacks in advance, they can plan accordingly to minimize inconveniences. Failing to do so can almost inevitably lead to negative reviews.
In your description, you can also provide a list of basic supplies that guests can expect upon check-in, including small amenities in the bathroom and kitchen. Ensure that your cleaning staff double-check the availability of these items before guests arrive. These listed items represent the minimum essentials that guests should find upon their arrival.
Pro tip: it’s acceptable to assign specific responsibilities to your guests, but make sure to communicate this well in advance, enabling them to plan accordingly.
3. Go the extra mile
One thing is for sure: every first-time guest arrives in a rental with expectations. We’ve already discussed the importance of at least meeting those expectations, but what about surpassing them?
Exceeding these expectations is an excellent strategy for garnering positive reviews, and the key to achieving this is through being exceptionally attentive. Small gestures like a lovely flower vase or extra plush towels can make a significant impact in our industry.
Pro tip: While we don’t recommend costly items like chocolate boxes and wine bottles, there are many other ways for hosts to add thoughtful touches at a lower cost. Think about how you can anticipate their needs and what would enhance their experience in a Gulf Coast beach rental. Get creative and captivate your audience.
4 Recommend spots and provide info in your area
Research shows that most travelers seeking beach rentals want to avoid touristy spots and are instead in search of local hidden gems. That’s why providing your guests with a personalized guidebook of activities in your area is a smart move to boost your reviews.
In today’s digital age, opting for an online version allows you to send it to your guests via email in advance and update it as needed. Your guidebook doesn’t need to be too complex; the most crucial aspect is that it should convey your personal perspective on the area. There are numerous tools available to simplify the process.
Here are a few options we recommend:
With personal recommendations at their fingertips, guests are more likely to speak highly of your rental after their stay.
Pro tip: how about including a coupon booklet in your guidebook? Everyone appreciates saving a bit of money, and local businesses in your area will undoubtedly value the partnership.
Crafted guidebooks are an excellent way to take that extra step in ensuring guests are happy. Consider your local area: are there any hidden gems serving exceptional cuisine? What precautions should your guests be aware of when it comes to the natural surroundings?
5. Communicate effectively
Rental property managers like us who operate in Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Pensacola, and Perdido Key are well aware of the importance of effective and timely communication to meet guest expectations. We know this because when these standards are not met, it often results in negative reviews that impact a host’s overall score.
Hosts who are helpful, clear, and efficient in their communication are more likely to receive positive reviews. Communication can be a challenging aspect of guest relations, but you can always streamline the process by following a sequence:
- Before the booking happens: be prepared to promptly address their inquiries with courtesy and assistance; failure to do so may cost you a booking.
- Right after the booking: send a thank-you note, booking confirmation, and a guidebook containing answers to common questions about your property.
- About two days before their arrival: send an online guide for your area and a coupon booklet so they can explore the neighborhood.
- Before check-in: share the door code and remain available if they require any assistance, as check-ins can be a stressful time for guests
- The day before check-in: follow up with them to inquire about their preparations and offer any needed assistance.
- Before check-out: send check-out instructions.
- The evening after check-out: send a final thank-you message and kindly request them to leave a review.
Guests truly value hosts who are actively engaged and caring, as well as readily available to assist. Remind your guests that they can reach out to you for any assistance they may need.
Pro tip: prompt response times to messages are crucial in this industry and often lead to positive reviews. Strive for rapid responses, aiming to reply within five minutes, 24/7, including weekends and holidays.
6. Encourage guests to write reviews
Just because you’ve done everything right doesn’t necessarily guarantee a five-star review or even a positive review at all. Guests often forget to leave reviews, and it’s not their fault; they have a lot on their minds, and most aren’t aware of how crucial reviews are for hosts.
However, do you really want to leave it up to chance? We suggest that you take control and gently remind them to leave reviews by slipping in subtle messages.
Here’s an example of how to do it:
“Thank you for leaving my beach home in great shape! I’d be happy to give you a 5-star review for being such a wonderful guest. If you have a moment, I’d really appreciate it if you could share your experience by leaving a review too. It makes a significant difference for us as we continue to host fantastic guests in our home.”
The template above is a good starting point, but you can, of course, tweak it to fit your specific situation. The best time to send a reminder is shortly after check-out while your guests still have their stay fresh in their minds.
Reciprocity also helps: leaving your guests a positive review increases the likelihood of them returning the favor.
7: Use the pre-framing technique
Did you know that you can influence your guests’ perceptions to receive positive reviews? We’re not suggesting any deceptive practices. “Pre-framing” is a valuable technique borrowed from businesses to guide customers’ thought processes. In short-term rentals, it comes into play when communicating with guests.
For instance, you can express your desire for them to have nothing less than a “five-star” experience during their stay at your beach rental. Additionally, you can assure them that if their experience falls short of that standard, you’re eager to address it promptly.
Here’s an example:
“Hello [Guest Name], Welcome! As your host, my commitment is to provide you with a five-star experience during your stay. If, at any point, your experience doesn’t meet that standard, please don’t hesitate to inform me, and I will do everything within my means to make it right. Thank you for selecting my beach home for your stay!”
This message subtly conveys your expectation of a positive review and implies that any issues should be brought to your attention personally rather than through a review.
This technique is highly effective. Give it a try, and you’ll see those five-star reviews start coming in!
Top tips to getting 5-star reviews for your beach rental
Needless to say, the ultimate path to securing sparkling reviews is by delivering an exceptional experience to your guests — that’s what we’re all in this business for! These tips are simply additional tricks to tuck into your arsenal.
As longtime property managers in the Gulf Coast, we understand precisely what it takes for guests to bestow those coveted five golden stars.