- Send checkout instructions 24 hours before checkout day
- Invite feedback from your guests to improve the future guest experience & respond to the feedback
- Follow up with your guests a couple of days post check-out to continue the dialogue
- Collect information to create follow up opportunities and stay top of mind (think holiday emails, happy birthday, etc)
- Appropriate frequency to follow-up with your guests & create repeat bookings
- Do not chase 5-star reviews as the objective, chase an awesome guest experience and the reviews will follow
The 5-star review is your report card as a host on how well you are hosting your guest. It is the direct grade of your guest experience. There are no shortcuts. Creating an awesome guest experience leads to great feedback, which leads to great reviews. When you do get a bad review, use it as a learning opportunity to fine tune your guest experience for future guests. Any review less than 5-stars is not necessarily a bad thing, it is an opportunity to grow and do better.
Welcome to the Vacation Home Help podcast, the only podcast dedicated to helping vacation rental owners, self-manage their properties. Your host delivers short and sweet episodes, with actionable advice, tips, and strategies, to level up your hosting skills. Whether you are a complete beginner, or been in the vacation home rental business for a while, you are in the right place to get the tools you need to succeed.
Here are your hosts, John Candelario and Tim Casey.
How to Follow Up With Your Airbnb Guests
John Candelario (00:33):
So, follow-up super important. I know a lot of times guests check out and people just forget about them, but when you follow up with your guests, really great things happen. If you just keep in touch with people, they’ll remember you next time they come into town and if you want those great reviews, it starts with the follow-up right after to check out because it’s part of taking care of your guests and communicating with them properly.
So just because someone checked out and you’ve made the rent money, doesn’t mean you stop talking to them because that’s not being hospitable. You have to keep the engagement going, even after people check out, because that’s what makes you a great host.
So imagine yourself, you just checked into a vacation rental and you had a great time and it’s the last day and you’re about to leave. Don’t you want the friendly reminder of the checkout instructions?
Tim Casey (01:23):
John Candelario (01:24):
And after you check out, don’t you want someone to ask you, “How was your stay?”
Tim Casey (01:29):
How Tim Follows Up and Communicates with his Airbnb Guests
John Candelario (01:30):
And Tim, in your own practice with your home, how do you do that?
Tim Casey (01:34):
So I always send checkout directions about 24 hours before checkout day. And as part of that checkout information, I always invite feedback. I’ll say to the guest, “Hey, tell me those two or three things that you wish the house had? Or how could your stay have been better so I can continue to improve the home and the experience, hopefully for you in the future, or for other guests.”
I invite the feedback and I want the feedback. I’ve been really happy with the amount of feedback that I get and it goes like something like, “Hey Tim. Great house. How about these two things in the future? When we check in, it sure would be nice to have more garbage bags. Sure would be nice to have an extra roll of paper towels.” It’s those little things that when you hear it from the guest, you hear how important it is and by responding to it, it allows you to continue the dialogue with the guest.
So what I do is a couple days later, once the guests are back home and they’re back into kind of the routines of their life, I’ll check back in with them and say, “Hey, in the future, if you want to come back, or if you want to invite other friends and family members, would love to host you.” And just those little bit of communication reminders continues the dialogue.
Use holidays to build rapport with past guests
John Candelario (03:03):
I love that and I think it’s helpful to collect a little bit of information, in a noninvasive way, when they make a booking with you because that gives you an opportunity to remark it.
Like, for example, on the holidays, you can send an email saying, “Happy holidays,” and it could have a picture of your family, for example. And that just puts you at top of mind. It’s just wishing someone well. Has no commercial intent whatsoever. It’s just being a good human, wishing someone well, but it puts you at top of mind.
If you know the birthday, even better. Wish someone, happy birthday, but you’re going to want to have a multiple touches during the year, maybe three or four times. You don’t want to be too annoying. You don’t want to message someone every week after they check out, but you can touch them at the appropriate times like the holidays, just to remind them that you’re thinking about them and that can turn into repeat bookings and maybe even make a friend or two.
Earning your 5-star reviews and not just asking for a review for the sake of reviews…
Tim Casey (03:56):
John, I’d love to hear how you think about this, but I’ve got a different way of thinking about reviews than I did maybe a year ago. A year ago, I thought my number one objective is to get a five star review. Well, we all want five star reviews, no doubt about that, but I no longer view it as the objective. I view the guest experience as the objective. The review is simply the outcome if I’ve done my job well. So I don’t go out looking for reviews. I don’t bug the guests for, “Hey, I want your review. I want your review. I want your review.”
My opinion today is, if I do my job, well, then the guest is going to want to give a review and they’ll give the appropriate review. But my number one objective is the guest experience and the five star review is simply an outcome, or a report card, on how well I’m doing or not. If I need to improve in areas.
John, how do you think about reviews?
John leaves a 5-star airbnb review for a recent stay he experienced at a Virginia Airbnb
John Candelario (04:54):
I think of it just that way. We need to earn the review. We have to earn the review. We can’t expect something that we didn’t earn and if we didn’t do our job right, we’ll know because they’ll leave a bad one or none at all. If we went over the top and we delivered this exceptional experience, people will just be… Guests will be compelled to leave you a review because you’re so thankful.
I traveled to Virginia a couple weeks ago for a wedding and I love the place because it gave me a space for my family to gather, roast marshmallows, be together and I’m going to remember that forever. I was so grateful that I left a glaring, like an awesome review for her. Just because I had such a great time, but I felt that I owed it to her because I had such a good experience and she deserved it because she prepared the house in such a way that it was remarkable.
So thank you, Shannon, for hosting me. But that, I think it needs to be earned and what you said makes perfect sense. If we bug people for reviews, every time they check out, that’s the wrong formula because you might invite a bad one.
Tim Casey (04:54):
I think that’s right.
John Candelario (05:57):
It’s okay to request one like, “Hey, if you could lead me some feedback, I would really appreciate it.” That’s just asking for feedback, but saying, “Can you please leave me a five star review?” That’s kind of like steering someone to do something that maybe you didn’t earn.
I know some like business people may think differently like, “Oh, well, I got to get five star reviews of all costs.” But I urge you not to do that. I urge listeners not to do that because it’s not sustainable over the long term.
Focus on the guest experience and following up, great reviews on Airbnb will follow
Tim Casey (06:27):
Yeah. If we do our job as owners, and if we really focused on the guest experience, those five star reviews will come, but they’ll come because you have absolutely earned them and you’ve earned them from the very beginning of the reservation. The communication, the ongoing communication, the experience in the house, all of that is part of the experience and if we manage it well, our report card will be a five star review.
John Candelario (06:56):
Absolutely and we definitely need to earn our five stars, right because nothings given and that puts our priorities in the right place when we’re trying to deliver that memorable experience, the reviews will just follow. They’ll follow.
Tim Casey (07:11):
Can you imagine if I went to that guest who I left standing on my porch, not being able to get in. If I went out to that person and said, “Hey, can you give me a five star review?” That would be embarrassing.
John Candelario (07:24):
Yeah. Oh, she’ll leave you a five star review.
Tim Casey (07:25):
Oh, she will. She will.
John Candelario (07:27)
Yeah. That would be terrible but it’s also, that’s the way the world should work, like good things are rewarded, bad things are not. The review system’s supposed to be honest and if it’s not honest, the sharing economy and Airbnb, it means nothing because the reviews can’t be trusted.
So, just deliver the best guest experience possible. Those reviews will follow, but if you don’t deserve one and we did something wrong, we do want to know and if you get a two star review, it’s not the end of the world. That’s an opportunity. That’s an opportunity to improve what you’re doing wrong and just because you have one, two star review instead of a five, you’re like a 4.8, it’s not the end of the world because it shows that you’re real. That’s a real experience that happened and it gives you an opportunity to respond about what you’re doing about that, so future guests don’t have the same issues.
Tim Casey (08:19):
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