As a long-term property management company in Fort Myers Beach, we like to say that we are part of the so-called “trust economy.”
It doesn’t matter whether you have a Fort Myers Beach luxury home or a beach condo with beachfront views, trust is becoming increasingly important for rental businesses.
Do you know what that means? Your reputation matters like never before.
For that reason, collecting positive reviews, whether on OTA websites or your own platform, is crucial for success in this business. A solid score plays a pivotal role in your conversion rates, ranking equally with pricing and photos in the guest’s decision-making process.
At Sun Palace Vacations, we’re constantly striving to enhance the guest experience across all our rentals. When it comes to gathering those stellar reviews, we take a proactive approach and have developed a set of best practices to ensure they continue to pour in.
Curious about what we do?
Read on for our seven top ways to secure a 5-star review for your Fort Myers Beach rental.
1. Upload authentic photos of your beach rental
It’s common in our industry to experiment with angles and staging when capturing images of our property. In fact, it’s an approach that leads to more bookings and increased revenue.
However, it’s crucial to ensure that when guests step into your property, they find what they saw online in your photos.
Major discrepancies can lead to tremendous disappointment.
We understand this well. Among FMB rentals, inaccurate photos are a frequent cause of complaints in reviews. And when these complaints come, your reputation as a host is at risk.
For this reason, before you upload pictures of your beach rental to your listing album, double-check to ensure they accurately represent your property.
Furthermore, your photos should depict your beach rental in its current condition. We’re not suggesting that everything needs to be brand new, but appliances and furniture should be fully functional and in good condition. That’s why we always recommend that our property owners invest in high-quality, durable items when setting up and decorating a new beach rental.
Keep in mind that your selection of what to showcase can also be misleading. Selective framing is a real concern, meaning that sometimes, what you choose to highlight online can obscure other aspects of your place that may not be as favorable.
👉 Pro tip: one of the most valuable tips for beach rental photos is to align guests’ expectations as closely as possible with reality. Always have in mind that managing guest expectations directly contributes to better reviews.
Everything looks wonderful in this picture of Bluewaters Beach House. However, if guests were to arrive and discover that the pool isn’t well-maintained, the structure is deteriorating, and lounge chairs, umbrellas, and tables are broken, they would be deeply disappointed. There’s no doubt they would leave a negative review.
2. Be specific and transparent in your description
Authentic photos are crucial, and we’ve covered that. Now, the same rule applies to your listing description – the way you describe your beach rental with words.
It’s easy to get carried away and oversell your rental, especially when you’re actively trying to convince people to book it. However, this can backfire if you don’t align expectations with reality.
When the time comes to write your description, take a step back and try to view your property from an outsider’s perspective, like that of a potential guest.
Listing descriptions should be both objective and detailed. It’s helpful if they answer any questions guests might have in advance, not just in paragraphs but also through bullet points and lists of all the amenities or basic supplies they’ll find when they check-in.
You can even ask your cleaning crew – your best allies in anything related to your rental – to double-check if anything is missing. This will, once again, prevent disappointments for guests.
Think twice before hiding anything that’s not necessarily positive. It’s better to be upfront about discussing aspects that may not be entirely positive. When guests are aware of potential drawbacks, they can plan accordingly to minimize inconveniences. If they’re caught off guard, they may become upset and leave negative reviews.
In this game, transparency is key. Being open and honest in your interactions is essential from the beginning to the end. Transparency builds trust, and guests will be a lot more comfortable if they have a clear understanding of what to expect.
3. Woo your guests
As we mentioned earlier, it’s crucial to align guest expectations with reality. But what if you could actually exceed their expectations?
Going beyond guest expectations is a fantastic way to accumulate more positive reviews. Achieving this involves being exceptionally attentive to their needs, preferences, and concerns. Always provide prompt assistance and even offer a more personalized service if the situation requires it.
👉 Pro tip: small touches like a lovely flower vase or extra plush towels can also significantly enhance a guest’s impression of your hosting skills. However, we don’t recommend expensive treats like chocolates and wine, as these costs can accumulate over the course of a year and they don’t show up as much in positive reviews. There are many other equally effective ways to charm your guests that won’t break the bank.
4. Give tips for your area
Travelers who come to Florida and choose short-term rentals over hotels often seek a more local and authentic experience. They will definitely appreciate it if a local, who knows the area like no one else, provides them with valuable tips and insights, including hidden gems.
Sending online guidebooks to your guests is a thoughtful extra that usually results in better reviews. It might even sound like a lot of work, but you only need to create them once and then simply update them online if anything changes.
Also, there’s no need to create an overly elaborate guidebook; it can be simple and concise. The key is to add a personal touch, including your unique perspective on the area.
Here are some tools you can use for the task:
Guests who book Fort Myers Beach vacations may have questions like, “What’s the best beach to find shells near me?” or “Where can I go beach fishing nearby?” Including such relevant information, along with some handpicked hidden gems in your guidebook, will ensure you receive many favorable comments in future reviews.
5. Sharpen your communication skills
Want to know another way to ensure guest satisfaction? Maintaining effective and prompt communication with them. As property managers in Fort Myers Beach, we often see complaints in reviews when good standards are not met in this department.
Communication with your guests starts before they actually make a booking. It involves your listing description and then answering any questions they may have about your rental. It also continues after they leave your rental.
Throughout all steps, it’s important to maintain a helpful, clear, and efficient line of communication with our guests. And don’t fool yourself; this can actually be challenging, especially if you have multiple properties and you are dealing with many guests at once.
It helps to have established guidelines and some templates in place. Here’s a rough idea of how we communicate with guests at each step:
- Before guests book: we’re always prepared to address their inquiries, knowing that any delay in this stage may result in a lost booking.
- Right after the booking: we send them a thank-you note along with the booking confirmation and a document answering frequently asked questions about the property.
- Two days before their arrival: we send them the online guides we mentioned above, including information about the neighborhood.
- Pre-check-in: we send them the door code and let them know they can reach out to us if they need assistance. Check-ins can be stressful for some guests.
- The day after check-in: we send a follow-up message and ask if everything is in order. We also offer any necessary assistance.
- Pre-checkout: we send guests check-out instructions.
- The evening after check-out: send a final thank-you note and politely request them to leave a review.
Think this is a lot? Trust us, it’s not. Guests truly appreciate hosts who are actively engaged and ready to help at all times.
👉 Bonus tip: timing really matters in maintaining good communication. You should always aim for swift replies. At Sun Palace Vacations, we have a guest support team ready to answer anything that pops up within five minutes, 24/7, even on weekends and holidays.
6. Ask guests to leave a review
You might think that if you follow all the steps above, you’ll get a good review for sure, right? Well, not necessarily. Many guests don’t realize the importance of good reviews for hosts in this business, and some of them are just too busy with their lives to remember to give feedback. (Can you blame them?)
However, we don’t like to leave things to chance. If guests are happy, we want to encourage them to leave a review.
As part of our messages, we gently nudge our guests to share their experiences by leaving reviews with subtle hints.
Here’s an example of how it goes more or less:
“Thanks for leaving the place in fantastic shape! I’d be thrilled to give you a well-deserved 5-star review for being such an awesome guest. If you have a moment, it would mean a lot if you could share your experience by leaving a review too. It truly makes a world of difference for us as hosts. Hoping to see you here in Fort Myers Beach sometime soon!”
As you can see, we like to play on the rule of reciprocity: leaving your guests a positive review increases the odds of them returning the favor.
The best time to send a reminder is not long after check-out when they still have your property fresh in their minds.
Bonus: try the pre-framing technique to increase your chances of getting a positive review
Did you know that you can influence your guests’ thought processes to encourage them to leave a good review?
In the business world, there’s a well-known technique called “pre-framing” that works wonders in our short-term rental industry too.
The idea here is to guide your guests through the thought process and make them unconsciously realize that you’re expecting a positive review from them.
You can plant the idea of a “five-star” experience in their minds while assuring them that if they ever experience anything less than a five-star stay, they should let you know, and you’ll do everything within your means to make it right immediately.
Here’s an example of how it works:
“Hey [Guest Name], welcome to Fort Myers Beach! We really want 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 let us know; we’ll do everything within our means to make it right!”
This message subtly conveys that you want them to have the best experience while planting the idea of a five-star review in their minds. Also, if they do have any issues, they are more likely to send you a message directly rather than leaving a negative review later.
Give it a try. Pre-framing is a harmless technique that works quite well.
Tips and tricks to gather stellar reviews for your beach rental
Needless to say, the ultimate way to secure positive reviews is by delivering a fantastic experience to your guests. Anything less simply doesn’t cut it in the competitive beach rental vacation market in Fort Myers Beach.
If you make your guests happy and give them the amazing experience they deserve, those five golden stars are sure to pour in – and you’ll be happy too, beating the competition in the game of quality.