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How to get great reviews

Guest reviews have been on my mind for one reason or another in recent weeks.

Since returning to the UK after 10 years in Qatar, I have had more time to focus on my short-term rentals and this has provided extra scope to improve my communication with guests. In truth, it has always been pretty good – but I have made a point of going the extra mile over the last couple of months. And the results have been exceptional: since moving back to Yorkshire on 20 August, I have earned nothing but brilliant reviews.

Excellent communication can help you to stand out in the short-term rentals space – and I am often struck by how many hosts and property managers fall short in this area. On a recent trip to London, check-in details for my short-term rental were shared on the morning of arrival, which is far too late in my view. The main communication was about picking up the keys from a local shop. There was nothing about the area, restaurant recommendations, transport links, etc. I also found myself in a pickle when I checked out as the host had failed to tell me what to do with the keys when leaving. As I had collected the keys from a shop, I went back there – only to be later told (by the host – several hours after I had requested information) – that I should just leave the keys in the property. It was a frustrating start to the day – and could have easily been avoided had the host communicated effectively in the first place.

Outstanding communication will go a long way to securing superb reviews time after time – but what else can help to bag those top ratings? I considered my own experience, canvassed the HCH community, and did some online research to come up with the below tips:

Be honest and accurate

The listing should reflect reality. And if there is some sort of snag, communicate with your guests to manage expectations.

Communication is key

Ask guests the reason for their visit and find out if they are bringing children or pets. Share the check-in details a week before they arrive (if possible) and make it clear you are available any time to answer questions. If you really want to go the extra mile, consider using a digital guidebook like Orana Stay (HCH sponsor).

Local knowledge

In my experience, guests love to know about nearby restaurants and public transport options. Throw in shops, details about the nearest pharmacy, and some taxi numbers, and you’ll have most people covered. Recommendations are also important. My rentals are close to a great pub, café, and Indian restaurant. We recommend all three and provide contact/booking details. We also secured a discount for guests who visit the Indian – which of course we include in the check-in details.

Personalised recommendations

The more you know about the reason for the visit, the more you can provide. If your guests are coming to visit a specific city, for example, offer them some extra restaurant recommendations or give them some options for days out.

Make sure your place is sparkling clean

You can never compromise on cleaning. Your place should be spotless.

Meet the guests if you can

I met a host a couple of weeks ago who has managed short-term rentals for several years. He told me he met every single guest who had stayed at his properties before showing me his rating on Airbnb. It was 4.99 out of 5. The human touch still goes a long way. And if it is feasible to welcome guests personally, then you might find it increases your review score.

Check in on your guests after the first night

Make sure they’re happy with everything and remind them you are here if they have any queries.

Prompt the review

I noticed an uptick in great reviews after I started prompting people to leave top marks. One person in our community – who operates mainly with Airbnb ­– said she mentioned ‘five-star’ reviews throughout the booking process, such as: ‘we hope you have a five-star stay’ and ‘thank you for being a five-star guest’. This had helped her secure exclusively five-star ratings.

Here are some more quick tips from the HCH community:

  • Respond to queries quickly

  • Make sure your place is clutter-free

  • Create a home from home

  • Fix repairs as soon as possible

  • Don’t be stingy with supplies, like tea, coffee, cleaning materials, etc…which leads us on nicely to…

  • Provide lots of toilet paper!

And here is one example of really going the extra mile, from a member of our community based in Oregon, US: ‘Background music playing while guests enter, 20 battery operated candles, and a bunch of goodies.’ Now that’s what I call commitment to the guest experience!

And finally, one chap said: ‘Threats, bribery, blackmail, kidnap, and begging.’ But we’re pretty sure he was joking.

Do you have any more tips to add? Let us know in the comments.

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1 Comment

Nov 02, 2023

Loved this thread, I do most of this, never thought about adding the local pharmacy, great tip! We also try to subtley find out if their staycation is a special date? Birthdays/anniversaries and leave a personalised card to mark it, this never goes unnoticed, it's always mentioned in the review! And those who leave top marks, recieve our Xmas card. We have many return guests.

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