What Are Travelers Really Looking for in a Rental?

Aug 7, 2018 | Marketing

We can’t help but think this rental business would be a lot easier if we were mind-readers. Have you often wondered just what it is travelers are looking for when choosing a rental? Or maybe what factors most affect their decision? Maybe you’d like to know what amenities they consider must-haves? Well, wonder no more!

We conducted interviews with six of our “power-travelers” — that’s travelers who use our platform to book rentals again and again. So we asked them a whole bunch of questions to help give you some insight into what travelers want – here’s what we found out!

Travelers are paying close attention to reviews

It’s a no-brainer that travelers pay attention to the rating of a rental. They want to know how many people before them have stayed at a place and, crucially, if they’d recommend others do the same. However, what is sometimes overlooked is how important the written reviews are to travelers. While bad ratings aren’t great, the details about why a property has a lower rating are definitely taken into account.

Emma C, one of our TripAdvisor power-travelers, provided the example of when she encountered a low rating and negative review. After looking more closely at the review, it appeared the low rating was due to the amount of cutlery the rental had. This wasn’t at all important to Emma and she went onto to say that sometimes reasons for negative ratings can be a bit bizarre. That’s why she reads reviews in full to get a better sense of context and relevance.

When they (the owners/property managers) respond to a review, I’m more likely to leave a review back as well. I am hesitant when there are less than 2 reviews, a rating of 3 is okay but definitely read into the reviews to see if the reasoning is ridiculous.”

Emma C.

Travelers who read reviews are often more likely to provide reviews about their own experiences. A helpful tip from Emma C. was when something seemed amiss, she contacted the owner directly– instead of writing down her frustrations through TripAdvisor. By doing this, she hoped to improve the property rather than impacting them with a negative review.

We asked our travelers their thoughts on reviews. They had a lot to say…

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Recency and number of reviews is important

“I am wary of places that have only one very glowing review. I’m also wary of places that have very old reviews and nothing within the previous 12 months.” – Roz B.

Regarding "not so great" reviews...

“I discount one very bad review that is amongst many positive reviews and I take notice if the opposite occurs. If several people say the place is kept very clean I take notice of that too. I ignore reviews that say the owner left them food or wine, as this is irrelevant to the quality of the property.” – Roz B.

“Reviews help mainly. If you have minimum 10 to 15 reviews and you’re getting minimum 4 stars, photos are irrelevant. I also check how long ago the reviews are. Also if [the property has] just a few reviews, I check to see if they are legit by checking their other reviews.” – Jordan S. 

“I do read reviews and take note of the good and the bad (some people leave a bad review if the weather wasn’t good!). I have rented properties with less than 4 reviews, but usually I go for those with more reviews in the excellent/very good category.” – Amanda G

Travelers are reading reviews, but are they leaving reviews as well?

“Yes, I often leave a review. I believe that if I feel strongly about a negative aspect that can be fixed I tell the owner directly and wait for their response. If they don’t respond, then I add it to the review. If they say they will fix it, then I don’t put it in the review. If the owners are caring about the property then I leave a review.” – Roz. B
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On using reviews during decision time

Reviews might detail something missing in the original listing. Overall pattern provides indication of how nice a property is.” – Paul C. 

“Yes, they [the reviews] help decide to some extent.”  – Roz B.

“I’ll look at the photographs and specifications of the places. Then I’ll look at the reviews.” – James S. 

Instant Book: The Preferred Booking Experience

We asked real travelers about their experiences with TripAdvisor Rentals—and sister sites such as FlipKey and Holiday Lettings—and what was consistent was their preference towards Instant Book. When a traveler evaluates a vacation rental, they value assurance and prefer a booking experience that gives them this. Time is of the essence in today’s world. So, whether a traveler is on-the-go for business or a family is planning a week vacation, there is a sense of urgency to have plans confirmed right away – Instant Book provides this.

“One of the things I really like about Holiday Lettings (a TripAdvisor company) is you book it right there and then you pay your deposit and it’s done. I’m not so keen on when you have to contact the owner separately and arrange everything yourself.” James S.

“When traveling for business, I don’t have the luxury to wait around for confirmation. [When booking a rental property], I can’t be in limbo for 12 hours not knowing if they’ve accepted my request.” Emma C.

Amenities

Some of the most important amenities to the travelers we interviewed include items you might not consider an amenity or are almost always expected from a rental. These range from such obvious features—such as a kitchen—to smaller touches, such as WiFi, clean linens, towels and so on. Here are some items that guests request:

Kitchen: including amenities such as oven, fridge, microwave, tea kettle 
Wifi: complimentary is a huge plus or configure it into the price
Towels and bedroom linens: confirm how many there are 
Beds: opt for those without footboards so guests can sleep comfortably 
Washer & Dryer: including detergent and fabric softener
Space in the home: talk about how roomy your property is versus staying in a small cramped hotel room  
Regardless of the amenities you can offer your guests, most are looking for the two things traditional hotels often lack: privacy and space. Make sure your listing showcases these two aspects and you’ll be well on the way to providing what travelers are looking for in a rental.

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