It’s unlikely there is anyone reading this that has never read a product review, or bought something based on the opinion of other users or buyers. From plumbing services to medical professionals; books and cameras to large appliances, people have an opinion on how the product and service worked for them and want to share it with others. For many service providers and product suppliers, positive reviews are a welcome source of referrals, however on the negative side; traditional avenues of complaint have been overtaken by a new public forum that can deliver a powerful punch to a company or even a private individual.
We’d all agree that when we purchase a vacation rental period, we expect several things:
- Value for money
- Facilities and features as described in a listing
- An accurate representation of the location & surroundings
I’ve stayed in numerous vacation rentals over the years and on most occasions, these expectations are usually met, and often exceeded. When they haven’t come up to the anticipated standard, I’ve brought it to the attention of the owner or representing agency and have generally received a good response. I believe the only reason to go public on a review site would be when it‘s relevant to let other travelers know what to expect and to perhaps share with them something that was omitted from a listing.
From an owner’s perspective, the best way to avoid less-than-glowing reviews is to be entirely candid and upfront with any downsides of the property. Accurate location descriptions are important as are photos that represent the property honestly. For example, a photograph showing a seemingly idyllic location, but with no mention of the railway tracks immediately behind it, and not mentioning the five trains a day, could be genuine grounds for a disparaging review. In general, people are not stupid, and if that listing had clearly stated that train noise would be an issue, any complaints would be seen in an entirely different light.
While I don’t agree with non-disparagement clauses in principle because they prevent genuine complaints from being aired, I can also understand why some owners and agencies are asking guests to agree to use a less public way of complaining.
This is a two-way street. Vacation rental owners need to commit to maintaining standards and respecting their guests as valued travelers, and guests have a responsibility to comply with owner restrictions and to treat the property with equal respect. In the vacation rental match, a little tolerance and a good relationship between owner and guests go a long way.