By Rowan Clifford
Author of Airbn’b’ Smart and Smartbnb user
The Airbnb review criteria are pretty straightforward.
Your guests give you a star rating between 1 – 5 for the following:
- Overall experience.
Much has been written on the many ways to improve in all of these areas in the quest for better reviews, so I’m not going to cover that here.
Instead, I’m going to teach you a way to influence the subjective review making process of your guests in a way that increases your chances of getting better reviews more often…
Would you like to know more?
I thought you would!
And that’s why I’ve compiled this list of five psychologically proven persuasion techniques for positively influencing Airbnb reviews.
Persuasion: What moves people to change their behavior?
Persuasion is an attempt to influence a person’s actions, motivations, behavior, etc.
As outlined by Dr. Robert Cialdini in the Book “Influence,” humans have biological hard trigger responses to certain events/actions. And, it’s these hard triggers that, if harnessed, can influence the review decisions of your guests.
There are three main persuasion techniques that you can introduce to your Airbnb host’ game,’ and they are:
The rule of reciprocity states that “…we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us.”
Reciprocation is one of the most powerful techniques that can be used to influence a person’s response.
If somebody buys you a drink, you feel obligated to buy them a drink next time.
Commitment and consistency
This principle of commitment and consistency is about our “…desire to be (and to appear) consistent with what we have already done. Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision.”
If somebody says, “Oh, you’re always so kind!”, you’ll feel obligated to remain consistent with that assumption, and you’ll be committed to showcasing just how kind you are.
Very simply, this just means we prefer to say “yes” to the requests of people we know and like.
But what are the factors that cause one person to like another person?
- Physical Attractiveness: We tend to like people who are physically attractive.
- Similarity: We like people who are similar to us, whether it’s sharing opinions, personality traits, background, lifestyle, etc.
- Compliments: We generally love getting compliments, even if they’re not true.
- Contact: We like things that are familiar to us. On the other hand, we often fear what we don’t know.
- Cooperation: We like people who work with us instead of against us.
5 Psychological hacks for better Airbnb reviews
Alright, now that we know a little about the psychology of persuasion and influence, let me show you how these same techniques can be leveraged to consistently get better reviews on Airbnb.
When we communicate with our guests, we have an opportunity to connect with them and build rapport.
After building a deep rapport with your guests, you’ll find that they’ll be more inclined to leave positive reviews.
Guest: “Hey. My boyfriend and I are really excited to come to stay at your place. We love walking and sightseeing. Thangs Meg”
Host: “Hey, Meg. So happy you and your boyfriend are excited to come stay. I love walking too, and there are some amazing walks close by. I’ll also give you a few of my secret (little known) spots off the tourist trails where you can soak up the sights away from the masses closer to check-in. In the meantime, if you have ANY questions whatsoever, I’m 100% here to help. Speak soon. Rowan.”
- Referencing the fact that I like walking too (creates a similarity).
- Giving away secret info (reciprocity).
- Offering unconditional help (likeable, reciprocity).
- Use of first name (familiarity).
- Checking up during a guest’s stay
Checking up on your guests during their shows that you care.
And, by framing your message in the right way, you can trigger the reciprocity response which can be leveraged when it comes to review time.
Host: “Hey, Meg. I hope you guys checked in ok and are making yourselves at home. I just wanted to touch base to see if you guys have everything you need, or if there’s anything you needed assistance with? Please don’t hesitate to ask as I want to make sure you guys have a super stress free relaxing time away. It really means a lot to me. Thanks, Rowan.”
- Going out of your way to offer help (reciprocity)
- Showing you care (likable, cooperation)
- Exceeding expectations
When we create our listing, we set certain expectations for our guests.
So, when it comes to review time, you’ll be judged not objectively, instead, you’ll be subjectively judged against their preconceived expectations.
For this reason, I have a couple of ways to go above and beyond expectations (that won’t cost a penny) with a couple of sneaky tricks that I’ll show you below.
Offer early check-in: Set the check-in time on your listing 1 hour later than it actually is. Then, on the morning of arrival, send your guests a message with the offer of exclusive early check-in.
E.g. “Hey, Meg. I’ve just had a quick word with my cleaner to try and push for earlier check-in time for you, and they’ve given me the go-ahead to offer you an early check-in. So you’re now welcome to check-in at %check_in_time%. I know it’s only a small gesture, but every little helps, hey! Thanks again. Rowan”.
It's smart to implement these tricks
Wouldn't it be smart to start with a 14-day free trial?
Offer late check-out: Similar to offering an early check-in, but offering a late check-out will probably get you even more goodwill from holidaying guests, especially groups.
Luggage storage: If you have the ability to offer luggage storage for a period of time, offer this to your guests. Let them know that this is normally something you charge for, however on this occasion, you’re going to offer it to them free of charge.
- Going out of your way to help (reciprocity, being likeable)
- Giving a gift (reciprocity)
Compliment your guests
When your guests check-out, it’s a great time to offer a compliment. We all love compliments (even if they’re not entirely true), and they go a long way in influencing your guests’ review decisions.
Host: “Hey, Meg. You guys have been amazing! Thank you so much for being so kind and respectful of our home during your stay. It’s been an absolute pleasure to open up our home to guests like you. I hope you have a super safe journey home. Many thanks. Rowan.”
- You’ve been amazing (compliment).
- You’ve been kind and respectful (compliment, and will hold them to this consistency when they leave their review).
Adapt your tone of voice
People like people who are more like themselves. And this likeability can influence behavior.
The messaging tone of voice can be an important way to mimic your guests, which in turn will increase likeability.
Guest: “Good afternoon. My wife and I wish to reserve two nights’ accommodation at your property. Please advise if the dates requested are available. Kind regards. Mrs. Thomas”
Host: “Hello, Mrs. Thomas. Thank you very much for your inquiry. I can confirm that the dates requested are available and are free to book at your discretion. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any further questions or assistance needed”.
Guest: “Hey buddy. My girlfriend and I are trying to book your pad, but just double-checking the dates are available? Cheers. Tom.”
Host: “Hey, Tom. All is sweet, the dates are free and ready to book. If you need a hand with anything, just hit me up. Cheers. Rowan”.
In each example, the responses are mimicking the tone of the guest. Mimicking in this way, helps to build likability, which in turn will positively affect your reviews.
- Mimicking tone of voice (likeability, familiarity)
Bonus: My Ultimate Check-out Message Template
There’s a lot to digest in this post, and it’s hopefully given you some food for thought.
However, there’s one message, which, if sent at the right time, can have the most significant effect on influencing your guests’ review decisions.
This one message template targets all of the persuasive triggers at once (and it’s VERY effective).
It’s the compounding effects of all of these triggers stacked upon one another that will lead to an increase in positive reviews.
And, with reviews playing such a big role in Airbnb’s ranking algorithm and guests booking decisions, these persuasive techniques can make a big difference.
So, start weaving these persuasive triggers into your Airbnb guest flow experience, and see for yourself what a difference they can make.
P.S. Don’t forget to download the Bonus Ultimate Checkout Message Template above!
P.P.S. Also, remember that all of this can be automated using Smartbnb. It’s super easy to set up, and we’re currently offering a free 14-day trial 😉
You are wondering how to be an Airbnb host? Anyone can list an extra room on the Airbnb website, and signing up to become an Airbnb host is fairly simple. Still, there’s a number of steps to take and pitfalls to avoid. Don’t worry, we’ll guide you.
Are you thinking about starting a vacation rental business? First and foremost, you need to ensure you understand the industry and all the operations.
If you don’t know where to start, read this article where we discuss the basics. Here you’ll find some must-know tips for vacation rental success.
Planning to start a short-term rental business on Airbnb and are looking for an Airbnb startup checklist? In this post, you’ll find an Airbnb host checklist of essential things you will need to invest in for the greatest experience for your guests.