We recently rented an amazing VRBO place here in the city for visiting family. Did I supply a favorable review? And risk the place getting too popular? No way!
Unlike reviewing a restaurant or hotel where a handful of good reviews aren’t going to impact overall availability (many good reviews might), supply constrained goods & services can often book up on much low volumes. This seems most common with short-term rentals — I’ve had a few friends tell me they intend to keep private lists of great airbnb apartments to only share with friends.
But since these services need reviews as a signal to help consumers, what are some product solutions to this “review reluctance”?
1. At the listing level, show me distribution graph of repeat renters
Flowery glowing reviews are nice to give specific context but often I want one piece of information: how many people who stayed there before would stay there again? Since these services know renter info they can actually report how many consumers returned to a location. They also know whether you came back to the same city and decided to stay somewhere else even though your previous rental was available. This can be turned into useful information without the renter’s input since it’s anonymous.
2. Let renters put specific customers on VIP list which providers early window for booking or auto-waitlist
Another approach is to deal with the concern of the reviewer – that their good reviews will make it more difficult to get into their favorite properties. Property owners could categorize certain customer accounts as VIPs and grant them earlier booking window, auto-waitlist for cancellations, etc. Basically any way for the renter (who wants good reviews from satisfied customers) to help unfreeze the review process.
3. The companies themselves can provide incentives for reviews
Since reviews = more bookings, it’s actually in the service’s interest to get users to review – both good and bad. Accordingly they can provide system level benefits for giving reviews — discounts, loyalty program, etc.