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Getting good reviews

 Booking.com asked us to comment on the reason for our high review score.  I think that the following aspects of the guesthouse experience are important:

1.  Cleanliness  -  daily inspections of rooms and facilities and immediate response to any complaint.

2.  Value for money  -  offering more than your competitors

3.  Friendliness & efficiency  -  Being available and helpful.  Engaging clients those who might be on their own and look as if they would welcome a little friendliness, but always being aware of respecting everyone's right to privacy. 

4.  Being knowledgeable about your area and all that it offers.   

5.  Light-heartedness.  A little humour goes a long way to making guests feel at ease               

 

23 Replies

1
Magda Campher

Hi Jennifer, thank you for sharing these tips. We find building a relationship with guests prior to check-in also adds to their feeling of comfort upon arrival, setting the tone for the duration of the stay. Here, Pulse is invaluable for immediate reponse to an enquiry. Establishing guest's feeling of comfort and value, use the extranet to send a message the day of arrival, wishing guests a good trip and offering travel direction assitance.

1 year ago
1
Rupi Dhaliwal

Hello Jennifer and Magda, Thanks for sharing your ideas. Normally I personally welcome every guest and I do help them with their luggage. I think that this impression was loved by all of my guests. A warm and homely welcome does make the difference. Every day before the guest checks in I do normally go on their Facebook pages and get some ideas about their profession, background, likes and dislikes. On getting the idea I normally set the tone according to their likes. I always encourage them to yell at me if they need anything anytime during their stay. I do offer them drinks on their arrival and they feel valued and cared. if guests are looking for a taxi I do offer them rides. These little things make huge difference in the mindset of the guests.

1 year ago
1
Nicole Walker

My husband and I, own and run a small B&B with 4 x motel style rooms. We took over two years ago and had no previous experience in the accommodation industry. It is nothing flash, but despite this, we generate consistently high reviews which I must confess, has been a bit of a mystery to us. As a result, Booking.Com has asked us to share with the Forum, what it is that we do, that generates such good reviews.

To start with, we have the philosophy that as a relatively small operation, we have few chances to impress, so we have to keep it simple and must get the 'bed and breakfast' bit right.

1. Beds - We have really good quality beds that are comfortable and supportive, with a topper pad. They are not your standard 'hotel industry' beds. Guests consistently praise the beds and the good quality of their sleep. Glacier gel pillows are also on offer. They are not cheap and not everybody likes them, but those who do, rave about them.

2. Breakfast. There are two main features with breakfast:

A) Breakfast is our best opportunity to build a good rapport with our guests. Guests eat outside in a covered patio area, which has a lovely view out over the bay and surrounding area, so we have 'set the scene' so to speak.

B) Personally, I think it comes down to three main food items; good quality bacon, 'old fashioned' scrambled eggs and 'homemade' muesli. It is tempting to cut costs and use poor quality bacon...DON'T! If you are a bacon lover as I am, you can pick poor quality bacon a mile off. Bacon can 'make or break' a cooked breakfast. Good quality bacon shows you 'care' about your guests.

The secret to scrambled eggs like your mother used to make...is cream, made in a pot, yes, in a pot, stirred on the stove, with chopped parsley added at the end of cooking. Yes, labor intensive, but worth it for the reviews. Sorry Americans', ain't no powdered eggs here!

Nothing beats homemade muesli. Rolled oats, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds, almonds, shredded coconut, honey and a light oil. Baked for 45 mins at 150'C and stirred every now again during cooking.

So, that's our secret!

1 year ago
1
Jan Ludemann

Hi Jan here from Alpine Rock B&B

we too have been invited to share our great review secrets.

I don’t think they are secrets at all but just good hospitality that is customer focused.

We just have two rooms in our home but we always want our guests to find and expect nothing less than a very good quality boutique hotel.

That means good quality linens, towels, bedding, funiture and amenities. Nothing make-do. Everything is included, no added or unexpected costs.

Breakfast is made to order and there is always a wide selection including gluten free options.

We spend time with our guests to make sure they are completely comfortable and familiar with everything. We also are very knowledgeable about the Fiordland National Park area and are able to give a locals perspective on how to get the best experience while visiting us.

Love hearing all the hints and tips from other partners. This is very helpful.

1 year ago
1
John B White

Booking.com also asked us to comment on the reason for our high review score. And Basically Ditto what Jenifer has said. in addition...

1. We sit down with most guests for a final coffee or tea after breakfast for a chat, to see what their plans are for the day and offer assistance if needed.

2. We have an informal time set aside in the evening between 6pm and 7pm for Drinks and Canapes . (Some guests come others stay in their rooms or are out and about). This is the time we use to share local knowledge and too get to know each other. We have made some lasting friendships and repeat business this way.

3. We also ensure our 3 acres of manicured gardens are as immaculate as the inside of our home.

4. We go the extra mile for our guests, free laundry service (ironed and folded), free shuttle into town or airport pick up and drop off, packed breakfasts for earlier departures etc..

5. Cleanliness - we also inspect our rooms and facilities on a daily basis and we also immediate respond to any complaint.

7. Be friendly and always be available to assist where you can

1 year ago
2
Homestay in Cairns

Hi from Julie in Cairns.

Everybody's response is similar to mine I guess and very helpful.

Following is what works for me #

First I always make contact a few times via Booking.com to thank my guests for choosing to stay at my home, The next contact I ask for flight details with time of arrival and where they are coming from so I can track their flight. Also, hopefully get to know who is arriving eg family members or few friends etc and what their reason for travel is. Business or pleasure. I use this contact to find out if they have a special diet to know what cereal, milk or breads and fruit to make available.

I'm always home to greet my guests and show them to their room or meet them at the airport when I'm available for pick-up.

Quick chat on arrival and show my guests around and encourage to utilise the back deck and garden area.

Quick tour of the kitchen and whereabouts of bathroom

I have a folder in the rooms with some useful hints for driving in Australia & being Sun smart. I also include the WiFi Password and map of the local area and other useful information about rental cars, bicycle hire and some trips in the area.

Most guests are grateful when I share some General knowledge about your area with your guests and give little tips such as great places to eat at reasonable prices and discounts available for trips in my area.


As well as the usual breakfast cereals and toast,cheese slices and jams, I like to offer to cook eggs and toast on my days off work and that seems to go down well with most guests ,too.
You get the feel if guests want more of your company or less so depending on that and my time available if I have a cuppa tea with my guests or eat my breakfast with them as well.


Happy Hosting !

1 year ago
1
Barry Roberts

Hi

We got asked to share too. We are a small, older motel on the Coromandel Peninsular in NZ. In addition to working on being very clean and providing good bed linen the single biggest thing is knowing the local area.

We are a tourist centre and knowing where to go and what to see and being genuinely enthusiastic about the place. I also use my knowledge of the rest of NZ to give them tips for their next destination too. It is especially useful to be able to give directions to hidden gems that might not be on the tourist brochure.

Cheers

1 year ago
1
Gillian Davenp…

Gillian Davenport-Lang

Hi Fellow operators,

We have been in the industry for some twenty seven years and each day something new happens and people still amaze me, we have a purpose built two bedroom guest house,which was part of a larger complex 8 bedrooms and a restaurant, but offer our house guests al a carte dining seven days.

After we receive a booking from booking.com we send each guest a confirmation letter advising them of how to find us, plus a copy of our evening menu should they care to dine in. I am always there to greet them and show them into their suite, home made biscuits and fresh flowers are also put into the room as is fresh milk.

We do all our own laundering, fluffy towels and robes which we are always being complimented on, and how lovely and clean the room, walk in robe and full sized bathroom is with all the little extra's.

Both suites have folders in them for things to see and do, plus the WiFi password, we try and get the guests to explore as much of the area as they can whilst they are staying here, or they just want to relax by the pond under a shady tree with a good book.

I make a lot of home made preserves as we live in fruit growing area, plus jams and marmalade from local fruit or out of our garden, plus cereals, yogurt, variety of teas and coffees are provided at breakfast and in there rooms, a cooked breakfast is also available plus the option of scrambled eggs with smoked salmon.

Our guests enjoy rain water showers and spa baths in fact we use it for everything it is a luxury but the guests love it and the number of times people say how different the tea and coffee taste.

We like to give our guest space but we always find that they love to come into the kitchen to have a chat which we enjoy and help them to see the best wineries and places.

Just a few of the things we like to do and offer

1 year ago
1
Vera lloyd Farmilo

Hi from" Hobbiton Country",Matamata, New Zealand.

I've been hosting for nearly a year. Have loved every minute of it. Communicating before and during arrival and assisting with any questions I think is really important. Cleanliness and attention to detail is a must. It really helps to read your guests.Some like privacy others prefer to talk.I have two folders in the bedrooms one is on things to do and see in the region,and the other about the eating places in town,with menus.Breakfast is Continental,but I make savory scrolls that I freeze and heat up at breakfast time,which is well received.Quality bedding and pillows,lamps,a few books/mags on bedside tables.Fluffy towels,bath salts,quality hand and shower products all can make it a special experience.

Cheers, Vera

1 year ago
3
CML

I think that OTA's should post a comment that fair and constructive comments assist small businesses greatly : )

1 year ago
1
penguin beachf…

The areas in which we are scored upon are relevantly easy to achieve. We have a great location and views, our cleaners are expected to maintain a high standard of cleanliness, we offer 5 apartments that are are fully equipped for short or long term stays, and we are focused on the guest having a relaxing and enjoyable stay. Yet even with all these things you can't please everyone 😁

1 year ago
1
Helen Rachel A…

From Rural Tasmania where we offer apartments that are unique, modern, self contained with panoramic river and valley views.

As an expat I actually lived in hotels and serviced apartments for weeks and months so I sent my standard at the quality of accommodation I would like to find when I am the guest.

Include all those things that make a property more comfortable and like a home away from home.

We have decorated and include the best linen towels and all the best quality items in the bathroom,kitchen and laundry, which are not alway trendy but definitely practical.

Our goal is to attract guests over 50 who want to stay longer, relax and who appreciate the location and comfort.

Our high ranking guest reports all come from guests who are realistic in their expectations and appreciate the value for money.

We also have very high occupancy which provides employment for our staff on a yearly basis when this area is traditionally very seasonal.

We are also in the fortunate position that income is not critical, therefore the wrong type of guests with many wants and needs are deterred by our policies and decoration.

We usually average a difficult guest in 100 stays and a bad clean once a month.

We are not onsite but close by and in regular contact with guests, we find a text message at 10.30am on the arrival day is received right about the time guests start to think about their arrival instructions.

No you cannot please everyone and with over 300 reviews maintaining a 9.5 is near impossible, when we receive a 5 for a one night stay and the review is "disappointed" with no avenue to reply, I just lament it was so disappointing that they chose to make that booking, and move on.

We have a one month holiday every year in Winter and are revitalised for the next season.

1 year ago
1
Elizabeth Lockwood

I too have been asked to comment which I'm so happy to do so. I have a small BnB. Continental breakfast I leave daily and they are all very private. Introduction meet and greet, great linen/bedding and spotless bathroom is paramount and as someone said a sense of humour helps. I do most of my introducing on the very 1st moment accepting their money. Great icebreaker.

1 year ago
2
Diana Foster

I am only a small B&B with 3 guests rooms, and a guest sitting room with wood fire.

I always try and meet and greet guests personally and chat to them about the house (an 1880s farmhouse), where they are from, where they re planning to visit, places to eat etc. All the rooms are very individual and I try to keep everything spotless, linen good quality and ironed and towels white and fluffy!

Breakfast is at any time they choose, largely self service continental with a wide range of local products including eggs from my own hens, cooked in a "magic" machine which they all love. I just supply them with fresh tea or coffee and chat to them about their day.

Diana

Mariton House B&B

St Marys

Tasmania

1 year ago
1
Joseph Dubouzet

Booking.com asked us to tell other partners why we have a strong review score.

We acquired the Spa Lodge (Backpacker) in Rotorua just over 4.5 months ago and we immediately recognized that its most unique asset was a geothermal spa, offering all guests the opportunity to soak in volcanic mineral water for free, whereas a more upscale version in a nearby world-famous spa costs as much as NZ$80. Aside from encouraging the guests to get in the spa as part of their accommodation "experience", we try to be as responsive as possible to customer requirements, providing local information and discounted tour tickets. We also provide free coffee/tea, spices, salt and oil for cooking. We have high standards for cleaning.

But most of all, we take pride in our friendly and hospitable staff. After all, much of the guests' memorable experiences depend on how our staff interacts with them. We aim to turn as many of our guests into repeat customers so we make them feel welcome and "at home" in our modest hostel. Try to befriend the guests when time permits.

1 year ago
1
Glenene Keating

Booking.com asked us to tell other partners why we have such a great review score.

We only have one Apartment at the moment but we absolutely love our special place in Maleny and we want to share it with other people. Its important to us that people feel really welcome and feel like they are walking in to their own home.

We like to leave little treats as a surprise and cleanliness and fresh linen and towels are also a must.

We always greet our guests and show them through and point out special features .

We love what we are doing and want to make our guests feel special and spoilt.

1 year ago
1
Rita Strachan

Booking.com also asked us to tell other partners why we have such a great review score.

We had a 6 bedroom B&B for nearly 11 years and loved having guests, serving great breakfasts (all our guests raved about that in their reviews), providing them with comfortable, clean rooms and great beds, be there when guests check in or check out, be available to discuss the area and places or restaurants to visit, etc. I also put home made rusks in the rooms to enjoy with the coffee/tea provided and a bottle of water in the fridge every day - that is the "little extra" that our guests loved. Our scores were always in the middle 9's.

Now we have a self catering lodge and the interaction with the guests are much less - but I still meet all our guests on arrival, check them in at the unit and tell them about the facilities in the unit and the area and make them feel welcome and important. I put bottled water and fruit juice for the guests in the fridge (welcome drink on arrival) and tea/coffee and rusks in the kitchen.

I supply all the guests with a welcome letter with wifi password (free wifi), there is a folder in the unit with maps of the area, brochures of interesting places to visit, restaurants, etc.

If guests need anything, they know I am only 5 minutes away and they are always welcome to contact me.

Cleaning of the rooms are done on a daily basis and the place need to be spotless when guests check in.

I never "advertise" something that is not in the rooms or unit - the pictures on the listing are the real pictures of the place. I have heard many guests commented on this - that it is exactly like in the pictures they saw and how delighted they are with this.

Whatever type of place you have - the main thing is to let your guests feel special and make their stay as comfortable and pleasant as possible.

1 year ago
1
Jen

Sorry to interrupt..

But is there a GUEST REVIEW AWARD FOR 2017??

1 year ago
5
Brooke

Hi Jen, thanks for asking!

The Guest Review Awards announcement to the winners will take place in early January. Stay tuned :-)

1 year ago
1
Taylor Johanna

Great insights.

We are going into our 5th summer season. I fear we may always score lower than we should on "value for money" because we live in an expensive area. Guests from London (or where the cost of living is higher) know that we are excellent value, but other guests still think they can get a quality 4* room for £15 a night. Premier Inn is £91 a night room only in our town. Get real! We can add bathrobes, Elemis Toiletries, Green and Black's chocolate etc, and it makes no difference! It's not racism, it's about cost of living, regional variation and guest expectation of what a room "should" cost. I appreciate it's possible to buy a house in certain parts of the North of England for £2,000, but that doesn't even cover the yearly Council Tax bill where we live!

1 year ago
3
CML

I guess it comes down to an individual decision, and depending on how much you are hurting ... keep the prices and standards high or lower the prices and work harder : )

1 year ago
1
jennifer mary …

When I started our guest house 12 years ago, my previous career had prepared me for the for the potential for personal irritation at the amount of work one puts in versus guest appreciation. My answer to that was to structure everything as I wanted it. I wanted to feel that the business was a reflection of me and my standards. I haven't changed that and although I often get clients complaining about costs it doesn't affect me because we have good occupancy rates and on the whole the reviews are positive. You can't please all of the people all of the time.

1 year ago
3
CML

I totally agree with you Jennifer : )

When we first started out we bent over backwards for people and it seemed that those very people were never pleased. We also discounted our prices at the drop of a hat, and so often found that those that we discounted for were so well travelled, and also arrived in the best of vehicles. We have to live too, and sactifice our time and effort for this "24/7" business. The people who demand substantial discounts really need to work out what they make in earnings per hour and figure out the prices of things, especially accommodation. The rooms don't clean themselves, the linen and white towels, face cloths require effort and expense to keep them prestine - running costs are more than most people would believe. Unfortunately we do have to deal with people who do not think or care ... We eventually adopted the same attitude as you do, and things are just great, with a win, win situation each time!

1 year ago