Vacation Rental Reviews and what they mean

Ask any vacation rental owner what the best part of owning and renting their property is, and most likely they will reply it is when they get a ‘5-Star’ review from an appreciative guest!

There is nothing like that positive pat-on-the-back that tells a VR owner that they contributed to a positive vacation time for their guest.

We hope and expect that every one of our guests will want to leave us a five star review. Some people don’t believe in leaving a 5-star review because “nothing is ever perfect” or it “wasn’t a 5-star property” but what these folks don’t understand is that is not what vacation rental reviews are all about.

A vacation rental review is not about a property rating. Those are best left to professional travel writers, who have an objective system for qualifying them. What the property is like is really not the purpose of a review, because all guests have a chance to see in detail what they are booking before they make their choice. If a property isn’t what they are after, there are lots of others to choose from, and lots of information available about all of them. The purpose of the review is to validate whether the information can be relied upon. Is a future guest likely to have a good experience?

When you write a review, you are really writing a message to other guests. They are looking to someone who has first-hand experience and can assure them of the answer to these questions:

Can they trust that

– the property is as presented,
– the property will be available upon arrival,
– the property is reasonably clean and kept and maintained to a good standard,
– the property is properly licensed and accredited,
– the owner, manager or representative is responsible, responsive and helpful with communication,
– the owner is concerned about the quality of the guest’s experience and will take reasonable steps to ensure their enjoyment of their stay at the property?

If the answer to all of these questions is YES, then the property and the owner deserve a five star (or highest possible ranking) review.

If you genuinely feel that the answer to any of these questions is no, then you have an issue that you should take up with the owner prior to leaving a review. If you can’t get satisfaction after discussing it with the owner (and being open to what they suggest) only then should you note it in a public review.

Sometimes an owner can’t solve a problem for a guest, but they can still respond in a manner that displays that they understand the guest’s concern and care about the guest’s satisfaction. Owners in the business refer to this as a ‘5-star response’.

Things that are not relevant to a review:

  • Did something go wrong or break down during your stay? This can happen in any situation, anywhere, at any time, so is usually not relevant. (How the host responded to the situation IS relevant. Did they act reasonably and promptly to minimize your inconvenience? Did they respond to the issue as most reasonable people would expect?) The only exception is if many things broke down constantly due to an obvious lack of maintenance. That certainly bears mentioning.
  • Personal preferences. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the colour of drapes, type of flooring, type of dishes, etc. These are not relevant to a review, and a guest should be prepared to exhibit some flexibility in adapting to what the property provides. Beyond this, if there were aspects of the property that you didn’t like, but could have been seen or noticed in photos or the property description, or you could have asked the property owner about it prior to booking if really important, then this is not something that would typically warrant a reduction in rating.
  • The weather, or a noisy party down the street, or any other thing beyond the owner host’s reasonable control. You may have had something affect your stay, but if it was not usual or typical, and would be unlikely to happen again, you just have to chalk it up to your own bad luck. It doesn’t bear mentioning in a review.

Things that are relevant to a review:

  • Anything that surprised you in a pleasant way.
  • Anything the owner did that went above and beyond what would be expected.
  • Any example of the owner responding to a problem or issue in a very positive manner, or steps the owner took to simply make things up to you if it was a matter they couldn’t resolve for you.
  • Anything that is special or unique about the property that a future guest may be unsure about. For example; “Yes, the owner says the property is private, but is it really THAT private?” Assure future guests about the unique benefits of the property.

Something that you should never do:

Ask for a refund, or tie the nature of your response to a refund, or change your review because you did or did not receive a refund. Demanding a refund in return for a good review is actually extortion, and against the law. Refunds of security deposits, or requests for refunds should always be kept out of the review process. If any kind of compensation is involved, the integrity and validity of both the review, and the process, are automatically called into question. Trust is destroyed when any type of consideration plays a part in a review or property rating.

Author description

BOV Host

About the author:Rob Peters is the Site Administrator, Blogger and Chief-Touble-Maker on When not online, he is managing his terrific vacation rental properties in Florida, or admiring his three adult kids and loving his wife Donna.