According to Nielsen’s study on “Global Believe in Advertising,” 66% of users trust reviews from strangers, whereas 83% trust recommendations from friends and family. But what about advertisements? Only 40% of people have faith in them. So you must employ social proof if you want visitors to your vacation rental website to believe it.
According to the Fogg Behavior Model, client behaviors (like booking a night on your vacation rental website) occur when incentive, ability, and trigger all come together. Customers aren’t making reservations if at least one of these components is lacking. Secure the motivational component by using social proof! On their websites, major corporations like Airbnb, Hilton, and other businesses use social proof.
But what is social proof, exactly, and how can you use it for your vacation rental company? Find out by reading on!
What is social proof, and why is it important for my vacation rental website?
When people perceive that others are acting in a certain way, they automatically assume it is the appropriate thing to do. This is known as social proof. It’s similar to how new trends start: someone begins one, many people copy it, and then gradually, people like you join in because it’s so amazing or enticing.
Marketers leverage social proof to alleviate customer concerns and boost conversions and reservations.
Here are a few examples of real-world social proof that you encounter every day:
- To get a table, some restaurants make you wait outside. This gives the impression that the restaurant is in high demand, increasing the likelihood that passersby may stop in the future.
- You’ll probably need to get on a waiting list if you wish to join a country club. Because of this, people feel like they are part of an elite group.
- Sitcoms rely on pre-recorded laughter to get you to laugh along with them as they make hilarious faces.
Social proof is prevalent, and when used wisely, it will increase the number of reservations for your holiday rentals!
Social Proof Types
There are various forms of social proof, and each has advantages over the others. However, if we had to categorize them, we would do it as follows:
1. Social proof from users
Customer feedback, success stories, and testimonies. You may even ask guests to record videos of their time at your rental property.
2. Social proof from experts
When a reputable professional, such as a writer, blogger, or business tycoon, offer an opinion on your vacation rental company. For instance, you might get more reservations and be able to display the testimonial on your website if a well-known Youtube vlogger stays at your VR and recommends it in a video that one million subscribers watch.
3. Friends’ advice
People trust the recommendations of friends and relatives; therefore, if someone has had a positive experience with you, their friends will want the same things to happen to them.
4. Social proof from celebrities
A celebrity booking your VR can garner free publicity, but if you can convince them to promote your resort, social media will go crazy.
5. Opinion leadership
You can use phrases like “Served X thousands of guests” once you’ve hosted hundreds of visitors, most of whom had a positive experience.
How to utilize social proof to get more reservations for your vacation rentals
How might social proof enhance your conversion rate? You can harness the following eight social proof techniques for your vacation rental business (click on each link to scroll down):
- Reviews and ratings by customer
- Credibility markers and certifications
- media coverage
- Expert recommendations
- endorsements by famous people
- FOMO advertising
- bare figures
- Social media evidence
Let’s get going!
1. Customer feedback and evaluations
Users may decide whether to book your vacation rental even though they don’t know who the reviewers are by reading about their experiences.
According to studies, 88% of online shoppers trust customer reviews as much as personal recommendations, and over 70% read them before making a purchase. After reading favorable recommendations on a local company’s website, another 68% of consumers will go there.
Why it functions:
Reviews are popular with clients because they can relate to them; individuals prefer to put themselves in other people’s shoes.
Using client testimonials:
- Request consumer testimonials. You’d be shocked to learn that this works! Your visitors would be eager to leave you a review if they had a fantastic experience because they realize how essential reviews are these days. When someone compliments you over the phone, in person, or via email, you can also let them know how much you’d enjoy it if they placed a comment on your website.
- Make it simple to submit reviews. The majority of users won’t think to review you. You must make it as simple as possible for them to do so after requesting one.
- After visitors have stayed at your vacation rental, send them a follow-up email and ask them specific questions you’d like them to respond to for more in-depth feedback (and not just “it was amazing”).
- Prepare a little flier and add it to your package for check-in.
- As soon as you can, reply to your reviews. If the review is favorable, thank your visitors for taking the time to tell others about their experience and let them know you appreciate it. Get as much information from the consumer as possible if it’s a bad review so you can search them up in your database and figure out what went wrong. As soon as you have their contact information, you can attempt to solve any issues and provide them with a solution.
Some vacation rental owners, like Budahome, also choose to highlight them on their homepage in addition to having a review page:
2. Credibility badges and certifications
You can utilize certifications and trust seals as social proof if your vacation rental homes operate in regulated areas and you want to demonstrate authenticity. Most certifying and secure organizations provide badges, certificates, or seals that can be easily added to your website. For instance, VeriSign is renowned for up to 30% higher conversion rates on e-commerce platforms.
Why it functions:
Potential consumers can tell you’re a reputable, trustworthy vacation rental owner by looking for trust seals and credibility badges on your website. They will inevitably increase internet credibility with prospective visitors!
Using credibility badges: advice
- Use badges for security. Use security seals to reassure your customers that their information is secure if you manage sensitive customer information and collect online payments.
- Excellence awards. Include the logo or badge of any honors you’ve won to demonstrate that you’ve been acknowledged for operating a respectable vacation rental company.
- Listing badges from websites Branded badges are typically available on listing websites to improve your online presence.
3. Media coverage
Has the media ever made the attention of your vacation rental company? This involves conducting interviews, appearing in publications and blogs, on TV, etc.
The presence of well-known media figures on your website greatly boosts your company’s credibility. Which place—the vacation home with no badges or the one highlighted in The New York Times and CondéNast Traveler—would you want to stay at? Exactly.
Why it functions:
Customers still have faith in the media; a staggering 66% of them believe in editorial writing in newspapers and other written forms. If the media is covering your vacation rental company, it must be doing exceptionally well and that you have something special to offer.
Advice for obtaining media endorsements:
- Pique their interest. They won’t be interested in stories about how your vacation rental is a home away from home, but if you give it a local flavor and write about something unusual or interesting, they might.
- Create a personal network. The more intimate relationships you can create with influential bloggers and journalists, the more likely they’ll refer to you when they write about vacation rentals.
- Tell them your latest news. Make a list of the media outlets you’d like to be mentioned in and track down the contact details of the reporters who cover the topics of your stories. Not necessarily someone who regularly writes about vacation rentals and the business is required. Once you have your list, put together a brief, compelling press release or straightforward email that effectively sells your narrative, and send it off! Keep in mind to follow up later.
4. Expert recommendations
In this scenario, you want to focus on bloggers and industry insiders rather than merely trying to garner mainstream media coverage.
The social proof is more potent the more credible and influential the expert. Therefore, if Matt Landau, Heather Bayer, or any other authority in the field of vacation rentals has ever complimented you, be sure to include it on your website! Remember to include the endorser’s photo because studies have shown that it lends the message more credence.
Why it functions:
The use of influencer marketing is supported by science. The Halo effect is the foundation for these kinds of endorsements. Influencers and subject matter experts in their fields already enjoy solid reputations. By association, any favorable remarks or connections they are perceived to have with your VR company will result in additional positive press for you and increase your likeability.
How to solicit endorsements from influential people:
- Belittle their ego. Everyone enjoys receiving flattery, especially when it is genuine. Make sure you thoroughly research the influencers you’re contacting, then write them a personalized email outlining how they’ve influenced you. Just make it brief. Everyone is too busy to read.
- Join forces with them. Learn their interests and how you might be of assistance to them. You may even try out their goods and services and ask for a review in exchange. It ultimately comes down to creating scenarios where both sides can benefit.
5. Prominent endorsements
Admittedly, celebrity endorsements are a little trickier, particularly since they can be very expensive and you can’t always ensure a favorable return.
Finding a celebrity who aligns with your company’s aims, principles, and personality is the key. Your target audience should also be familiar with and like the celebrity. If there is a mismatch, you risk damaging your brand and business.
Why it functions:
It functions psychologically because people see their belongings as a mirror of who they are; this is known as the extended self. They seek goods that identify their place in society and give them a sense of belonging.
Potential guests will be curious to know why a celebrity they admire is endorsing your vacation property, check your website, and possibly even book their next trip if they see this information.
How to solicit endorsements from famous people:
- Impress. Invite them to stay at your rental home to experience it fully. Show them everything you have to offer while making it unique to them. What do they enjoy drinking, eating, and doing? Stock up on all of those items for your rental. They’ll be grateful that you spent the time to “get to know them” if they choose to come to visit.
- Invest. Simply inviting people to your place has the disadvantage that you can’t truly anticipate anything in return. They might write a testimonial, mention your company, or ignore you entirely. However, if you invest a lot of money, you can receive all the desired results, including more bookings, press coverage, great brand perception, and viral mentions.
6. FOMO promotion
The term “FOMO” refers to customers’ anxiety when they learn about something interesting and feel pressured to take action or risk missing out significantly.
Although FOMO sounds like it was created by and for millennials, it has existed for a long time. You can use FOMO to persuade prospective guests that you have something special they might not be able to access. As an illustration, send your former visitors an email with a special deal that ends in five days. They’ll book again immediately if the deal is too good to pass up.
Why it functions:
Most of this newly identified social anxiety occurs on social media when users observe what is happening in their friends’ lives and contrast it with their circumstances.
Useful advice for FOMO marketing
- Add due dates. Create limited-time special deals and warn them that failing to take advantage of them could have serious consequences (e.g., price raise).
- Demonstrate to them your solidarity. Tell them how many others have taken you up on your offer. To let them know how many other subscribers you already have, you may mention “join 5,000 of your friends” in your request for them to subscribe to your newsletter. They can’t all be idiots for signing up, and they can’t possibly dare not to get your news!
7. Exact figures (customers, stats, following)
Showcase the total number of customers, visits, social media followers, newsletter subscribers, or any other data that lends credibility to your company. This is one of the easiest ways to use social proof to drive bookings.
Why it functions:
If you can provide statistics, customers have confidence in your VR company and have enjoyed working with you. People appreciate knowing they are not your first guests!
Advice on using raw data
- Think broadly, but don’t overdo it. You can present many numbers, but pick the ones that sound impressive rather than those that are so huge that no one will believe you.
- Make it applicable. Tell them how many other guests have stayed at your property if your primary goal is to generate more bookings. Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter? Inform them of your subscriber count.
8. Proof from social media
Integrate your social media accounts with your website to display real-time comments about you to visitors. Users can see that it’s coming from an outside source, adding another layer of confidence and another form of testimonial or review.
Why it functions:
People are interested in hearing what other people think of your company, much like they are in testimonials and customer evaluations. Potential customers believe they will have a positive experience with you if previous guests have had one. Including social network mentions merely lends credibility because prospective visitors can click on their profiles and even get in touch with them to learn more.
Useful social media proof tips:
- Display the stock. Count the number of likes and shares your work has received from your audience.
- Share your content with others. Ensure the social sharing icons on your website enable people to share content on their social media accounts.
You now have the opportunity to start utilizing social proof on your vacation rental website! Let’s put your knowledge of the many forms of social proof and the various methods for using them to increase bookings.
Selecting at least one or two forms of social proof and including them on your website is advised. Keep track of how these tactics affect your conversion rates, then return to discover the following tactic to use.