10 Game Changing Tips To Attract Better Guests & Gain 5-Star Reviews

By Susanne Young

IMAGINE if your Vacation Rental was the perfect fit for every guest.

As soon as they see your property online, they book quickly, afraid someone else will beat them to it and have no problem paying top dollar!

They are excited about their upcoming stay and ask for your personal recommendations.

It feels as if they know you personally. They don’t complain or or ask for anything special or out of the ordinary. .

They are highly respectful of your property, keep it clean and leave your belongings in perfect shape.

The best part, they post a raving five-star review and share with their friends on social media.

If only every guest in your vacation rental was this awesome… someone you would welcome into your home again and again.

But, for some reason you have been attracting less than stellar guests… they ask for deals, make demands, leave your home a mess and rarely leave reviews!

Try these tips to attract better guests with your listing, ensure they respect your property and share their experience with others. 

Attract Better Guests Before They Book

#1  Figure out who your perfect guest is.

First, accept that your place is not perfect for everyone. In fact, the more effort you take to determine exactly who your place is perfect for, and learn to target that particular person or persons in the way you present your listing, the photos you share, your hospitality, and the amenities you provide, the more likely you are to attract that perfect guest, more often.

#2 Write a vivid property description that brings your unique experience to life for your perfect guest.

Imagine the details they are looking for in a property and highlight those amenities and experiences. Try to evoke an emotional response with your descriptions.
The buzz of an urban location may irritate travelers who need a quiet getaway. “Everyone must experience NYC once in their lifetime. It is loud, fast, and electric, buzzing with art, fashion, food, and theater! Live like a local and have a high- octane adventure right in the middle of all the action.

Be truthful; if noise can be an issue, put a positive spin on it and mention earplugs are provided!

What about the opposite end of the spectrum? How about an off-the-beaten-path location with a stellar ocean view.

Cruise a scenic drive to your peaceful haven. Visit the artisan shops along the way. Curl up with a good book in front of a crackling fireplace. Sink into the comfortable mattress and listen to the sound of crashing waves.”

Remember, you want to share details and descriptions that appeal to the people you want renting your home.  If your property is the perfect place for a group with children, highlight the amenities that make it ideal. “Let the kids take over the bunk room upstairs and play video games all night while the adults watch the sunset on the back deck.” 

#3 Use professional photos and test which work best to highlight the amenities your guests enjoy the most!

So many owners add listing photos in no certain order, but, think about what your guests want to see. 

Do the moms frequently mention the pack and play, high chair and safety gates you provide?  Take a photo of all three together and share it within the first 5-8 images.  This says very loudly, “We are perfect for young children and we care about their comfort.” 

#4 Build trust with a better bio and owner photos.

You want guests who care about the people behind the property. You are not a hotel manager for a big corporation. Too many hosts have scant bio details with a poor-quality photo. Trying to remain completely anonymous in a bio forfeits the one big opportunity to build trust before they decide on a property. Tell them why you are a great host. Share your story.  Why do you love this industry?  How did you find your property?  Add vivid details about what makes you an interesting person that your guests will feel comfortable giving their money to. Post a clear smiling photo. You can even share a guest review in your bio.

#5 Be truthful and up front about rules and restrictions.

So many owners won’t mention rules until after the home is booked, worried they may lose bookings by overly strict house rules.

It is your job to spell out what is expected, with clear consequences.

If exterior cameras are installed and noise detection devices are used, state this. The only guests you are turning away are the ones who planned to be loud and rowdy. The quiet and responsible guests won’t care. 

WILL some bookings be lost by doing this? Yes, but that is the idea. Let them self- exclude by reading house rules. Rest assured, the ideal guests are probably right behind them.

#6 Ensure your rules do not come across as harsh or negative.  

On the other hand, some owners share rules in all caps in the very first line thinking this will turn off the “bad guests.”

Instead of “ABSOLUTELY NO EARLY CHECK INS” mention (near the bottom of the listing.)

“Unfortunately we cannot accommodate early check ins. If you are traveling by air and need a place to drop luggage, let us know after booking and we can provide the code to the garage door for temporary storage.”

This says you care about your guests, but still shows there will be no early check ins.

If you want your property to appeal to parents with children but in an effort to dissuade partiers from your beach house one of your rules is “ABSOLUTELY NO NOISE AFTER 10PM, WE USE A NOISE DETECTOR – ANY VIOLATIONS ARE GROUNDS FOR EVICTION” you are turning thoughtful and responsible parents away from the start.  They don’t want to risk getting thrown out if their group of teens want to play video games all night. 

Show Your Hospitality After They Book

#7 Continue building trust  by sending friendly and informative messages and emails.

Ask about your guests and take a genuine interest in why they are traveling, and what you can do to help make their trip great. Just by offering, you are letting guests know they are important to you and your business.

We construct positive or negative preconceived notions, and then subconsciously look for ways to support our beliefs. If the hot water tank fails, a good relationship will go a long way. Note: there is a big difference between avoidable housekeeping no-shows and unforeseen broken water heaters. One is preventable, and one is not. Guests know the difference.

#8 Create and send a guest book to show you are serious about providing a great guest experience and providing top-notch hospitality.

Try Hostfully, a cloud-based guest book option, or spend time creating and printing your own book. 

Be sure to include arrival and check-in info, amenity list, photos, FAQ, how to work electronics and appliances with online videos, and a copy of the rules.

You will also want to send area area information like favorite dining spots and attractions.  Additonal embedded maps, and a weather widget is a traveler’s dream.

#9 Automate your communication with your guests to make them feel special.

Not only does automation of emails make your guests think you have taken your time to create the perfect experience for them and that every message is personalized for their arrival plans, but it also saves you a ton of time.

Some ideas for automated messages might include:
1. As soon as they have booked and paid, send them a welcome email that highlights the best features of your property and how they might enjoy it. Remind them to follow you on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with happenings. 

2. Two weeks before their trip,send a message that you are looking forward to their stay and share your cell phone number again. Remind them of check in time and share a link to a local events calendar. Even better, create a custom google map and share a link to some of your favorite spots.

3.Three days before arrival send them specific directions, door codes, parking directions, etc. plus add some hospitality with something specific, such as “here’s the number for one of our favorite pizza places down the street, if you are coming in late and need take out.‘” 

4. Create a reminder in your calendar to make a post-check in phone call (or even a pre-check in phone call) Use this time to remind them of a special amenity or something you have done for them in advance. “We turned the AC down so you could cool off as soon as you arrive.” or “I left you some cookies from our local bakery on the kitchen table. (note if you leave home made or baked goods for families it’s also a great idea to ask in advance if their little ones have food allergies)  Mention problems you know they may experience in advance instead of hoping for the best. “By the way, sometimes the WIFI can be tricky, there are instructions for how to reset the router on the back page of the guest book on the coffee table.”

Be Appreciative After Their Stay

#10 Continue To Communicate

It surprises me the number of times I leave a vacation rental and never hear from the host again other than a quick guest review.

Once your guests have stayed with you, you want to be sure and leave them with a sincere note of appreciation.  This is an opportunity to remind them of their experience in your home and you as a host.  

This isn’t the time to automate. You should know enough about your guest to be specific about their stay. 

“Thank you so much for your stay in our home. I hope your boys had time to enjoy the fire pit out back and the short walk to the beach.”

Or, “I’m so glad you spent your anniversary weekend with us and hope to have you again next year.  Did you enjoy any romantic restaurants you would recommend to our future guests.” 

You will also want to add their email address to your e-newsletter list if you have one, but BE SURE to get their permission first. 

What tips do you have?  Do you have tips we should include that help attract better guests?  Please leave your comment below!