Reviews help bag Selkirk holiday home top award

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A Selkirk couple who rent out a rural holiday home have won a guest review award from their online booking agent after picking up an almost-perfect score from an accumulation of guest reviews.

And it comes after less than one year in business for first-time landlords Steven and Shona Irvine, who began renting out Stainie Brae cottage last April.

The two-bedroom holiday home, at Lowergreenhill, south of Selkirk, picked up dozens of 10 out of 10 reviews, and an average of 9.9/10 last year.

Steven, 47, and Shona, 56, believe their quick response time to online requests and personalised welcome baskets tailor-made to each visitor have been vital to their success and in securing 35 bookings since April.

Originally built as a granny-flat style property in 2018, the couple, who are first-time landlords, decided to give holiday rentals a go instead.

“In our first year doing something like this we never expected it to take off like it did, but that’s all thanks to the good reviews which people have been leaving.

“I think it’s down to that personal touch and taking an active interest in why guests are visiting the area.

“We have been known to provide celebratory cakes or a bottle of prosecco for couples we know are visiting for a special occasion.

“We personalise the welcome gifts for them to what they suggest they might like, rather than what we might assume guests want.

“We also take time to check what they have planned for their visit and supply leaflets and information that might help them on arrival.”

The guest review awards programme, now in its seventh year, recognises partners for their hospitality according to scores left by guests. To qualify, properties must receive at least five scores above 8/10.

James Waters, head of partner and customer services at Booking.com, said: “So much work goes into a great guest review. From the moment guests book to after they leave it’s our partners’ hospitality that makes their trip special. Congratulations must go to each and every winner.”