What motivates Airbnb guests to write reviews? Are they upset by something, overcome with their own importance, think they’ll get a partial refund from a past booking – or a discount on their next one?
Or are they hoping to warn people about a bad experience or blow the horn of an Airbnb host after an excellent stay.
Airbnb guests write reviews for three main reasons, and they probably aren’t what you think.
Understanding their motivation can convert them into your most powerful marketing tool for sustainable growth and profitability.
First of all they are less likely to be frequent reviewers than people who review restaurant experiences – since they will have had to have been a guest at an Airbnb (possibly yours) before they can review it.
And they are likely to be more emotional – becuase for many of them staying at an Airbnb may be a departure from their past travelling experience.
They want to tell their story and they want to be heard!
Three platforms you must be concerned about when considering reviews.
Naturally there are those on Airbnb.com. They have a well designed process for you to follow. It is in their interest and yours that you stay on top of any reviews you receive, especially positive ones! If you are serious about your business you will be all over the negative reviews, to address any of your guest’s concerns.
Don’t ignore the positive reviews! When you follow up with the people who have taken the time to tell other travelers what’s great about your place – a nice thank you will not go amiss. It may cause them to tell their friends “you’ve just got to stay at…” which is the best recommendation you an get.
Next are the review sites like TripAdvisor.com. In my opinion, reviews on Airbnb.com are the most important when it comes to recruiting strangers to stay at your place. Doing whatever you can to please Airbnb.com will have direct implications for your business. TripAdvisor reviews, while important, may not be as important – in and of themselves.
Naturally we must monitor TripAdvisor and every other review site possible. And we have to do it 24/7 so we don’t miss either a good or bad review. The reviews on these sites are likely to show up anywhere, so we need to be able to respond to them wherever they appear. Again this is going to effect your future bookings so you need to be on top of it.
Then there is Facebook! History proves that people do business with their friends. Or because of the recommendation of a friend. If a former guest posts about their experience at your Airbnb on their Facebook account – their friends will know about their experience. If the review is glowing it may encourage some of their friends to choose your place over all others on Airbnb.com. That’s powerful stuff because when they tell their Facebook friends about their experience. their friends tell theirs and on and on.
There is a nexus between TripAdvisor and Facebook you must pay attention to. When I post a review on TripAdvisor I am asked whether or not I want the review to be shown to all my Facebook friends. It’s a simple click and everybody who is a friend on Facebook and possibly hundreds or thousands of their friends may now see the review. If it’s a great one, perfect, if it’s not, well that’s a problem. In either case you need to know about it so your response can appear right there in their timeline as a comment.
So, what drives these people to post reviews in the first place?
As you can guess there are several well reasoned studies by various experts, find them on Google, very tedious reading. For the purposes of an Airbnb host there are really only three types you need to concern yourself with.
First are those who want to share their experiences online as a guide to helping other people make the best choice possible when considering where to stay. Or they may use reviews and postings on Facebook as sort of a travel blog – to let their friends and friends of friends know about their travels. It’s sort of a journal to them.
To that end they may overstate both the positive and any negative feelings, based how the place matched up with their expectations based on the listing on Airbnb.com. Wherever their reviews show up, you need to be there too. If their opinion seems overly critical, this is the place to state your position immediately – in a constructive way that lets them know you are on the case. If they have glowing comments thank them and say you hope to see them again. These comments are gold, if you acknowledge them quickly.
The second type of person is someone who wants to go “on the record” about their experience or the experience of a friend. Maybe they have an ulterior motive such as wanting a partial refund or a better deal on their next stay. Sometimes they are reacting because of something out of anyone’s control, or their expectations were different from the service you contracted to provide. Who knows, it could be anything in the heat of the moment.
When you respond appropriately, immediately, their friends will see you as someone who cares. What could have been a negative can quickly become a positive. Your guest will see that you’re hearing them which may bring the negative issue to a close – perhaps with a better understanding of where there was a gap between what was expected and what was received. Once again, their friends and friends of friends see you as an approachable caring host. That’s a good thing!
An finally, malicious rumors by disgruntled guests and envious competitors. Comments made by people who actively want to damage your reputation. There’s no way anybody can stop them, unless they break the law, and even then it may be too late – their damage has been done, their objective achieved.
The key is for you to know about their comments immediately, no matter where online they make them. If you’re not prepared to respond to their comment right away, the results can be disastrous. These are the sort of comments that can go viral. You have to set the record straight before their rumor mongering can have its desired effect.
Savvy Airbnb hosts know that their reputation as someone worthy of trust, someone who consistently delivers on their promises – is everything. Mistakes, whether real or perceived, are often pounced on immediately by unhappy or revenge seeking guests or competitors.
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