How To Attract More Guests With Better Photos of Your Vacation Rental

With so many individuals and companies opting to transform their homes into vacation rentals, potential guests are now flooded with potential options for their dream vacation as they scan through Airbnb, Vrbo or any other booking platform.  This is why it is imperative that you set yourself apart from the competition with better photos using tried and true practices from those who have done this before - us!

Within this article I will share tips and tricks that include industry standard practices as well as above and beyond strategies that will ensure a professional and caring image for you and your company that will surely convert more bookings.  Without further ado lets get started!

11 techniques to taking better photos of your vacation rental to attract more guests:

  1. Declutter and Deep Clean Inside And Outside
  2. Choose Proper Furniture and Décor For Your Target Market
  3. Know Your Listing Site's Photo Requirements Before Taking Photos
  4. Evoke Emotions With Hospitality Touches
  5. Utilize Proper Lighting Techniques
  6. Add Life To Your Photos: People, Plants or Pets
  7. Show Off Your Amenities
  8. Minimize Questions By Showcasing Your Home From Different Angles
  9. Show Off The Exterior
  10. Include Hand Drawn Floor Plans Or Pictures Of Local Attractions
  11. Choose The Perfect Thumbnail Photo

 

sparkling clean kitchen

Declutter and Deep Clean Inside And Outside

I have labeled this step as number one because it is crucial that this task is completed before photos and most definitely before someone inhabits your home.   If you are investing money into professional photos or investing your own time in taking photos of your property make sure not to miss this step or you will have wasted time and money on promoting a property thats not market ready. I have broken it down between different scenarios so you can choose which bucket you belong in to begin decluttering.

Declutter

If you are a home owner moving out to turn your home into a vacation home OR a Property Manager converting a clients home into a short term rental please read the following: 

  • As you Deep Clean I like to have one bag for trash, one box for give away and if you are an owner moving out of the home theres one extra step for you and its a box for packing away additional items that aren't guest friendly.  i.e. your favorite mug with a picture of you and your first car you purchased or your favorite Tupperware that you cant seem to get the spaghetti stains off of - with the most love and respect, Im telling you they have to go.
  • As you are going through each cupboard and drawer ask yourself, "is this guest appropriate?" meaning is it nice enough to leave for guest use.  Guests do not want to come to your home and use dirty, broken, or old items. They expect new, clean, well maintained items and amenities or they would have just booked a hotel.
If the home is vacant and you are furnishing it for the first time please read the following: 
  • Lucky you with the budget to stock the home with the right amenities.  Since everything will be new that you buy just be sure to keep the receipts so when guests damage items you know exactly what to charge.  Guest damages are inevitable, its a part of the job so do yourself a favor and make an inventory of all items and prices of items in your home so you can claim the funds as listing sites will surely ask you the price and to prove it.
  • Since it is a new home with new items be sure to remove ALL price tags, turn on all taps, run the shower, open the water flow to the dishwasher, etc.  All the things you would normally do to ensure a brand new property is functioning properly.

Deep Clean

Remember these photos are the gold, they are the selling point of your home.  Your guests buy with their eyes so cater to them by promoting your property with it's best foot forward.  Remember, in this step nothing goes unnoticed - put your attention not only to each room but to each item whether it belongs, needs cleaning and then place the item for staging.

 

Here is a short list to get you moving in the right direction:
Housekeeping Items to Complete Inside
  • Deep clean every room
  • Declutter as you go
  • Vacuum yourself out of the room i.e leave lines in the carpet
  • Clean Windows
  • Make sure all beds have mattress protectors
  • Make sure there are extra linens and pillows in closets

 

Housekeeping Items to Complete Outside
  • Lawn Care, mow, trim, weed, etc
  • Pressure wash home or AT LEAST clean windows
  • If there are amenities like a pool, outside seating or BBQ make sure they are in tip top shape
  • Move Cars Out of Driveway and pressure wash sidewalks, patios and driveway
  • Get trash and recycle bins Cleaned

 

scandinavian interior design

Choose Proper Furniture and Décor For Your Target Market

    In this section you will take a look at your target market and ask yourself what those guests would expect and enjoy in a rental property.

    For instance, if you are trying to attract families, you will definitely need to think about seating for everyone around the table, in the living room and enough beds for them to sleep in. But above that you will have to think about kid proofing the home such as the walls being painted with eggshell which is easy to wipe down and sofas that are easy to clean or spill proof.

    On the other hand if your target market is business professionals, make sure they have a work space and the space is more modern and comfortable as they will be working and living from home.

    Additionally when people are looking for rental properties for their vacations, they want something that matches their selection of vacation they decided to take.

    • For example, if they are looking for a beach getaway and your home is decorated like a cabin, it will definitely deter some of your potential guests because if they wanted a woodsy feel they would have gone to the woods to stay in a cabin, not your beach house. If you have a beachfront property, get inspired by the natural surroundings and bring those elements into your home.

    Now its up to you how far you play up the "theme" of your rental.  A little too far and it may be too theatrical.  Select pieces that inspire the feel you wish the guests to have and contact our team if you would like a furniture mock up or have questions on design elements.

    hand holding camera lens in nature

    Know Your Listing Site's Photo Requirements Before Taking Photos

    In this step, you will be taking a look at your website or listing site's pixellation requirements.  You want to make sure that your photos are not only going to turn out well with all of the preparation you have done but also because you know how to maximize the marketing side as well.

    As a general rule take all of your photos in landscape.  This ensures that once they are uploaded they wont turn out blurry.  Additionally each listing site will have their own requirements but compile the requirements and make sure you adhere to the highest pixilation requirement.

     

    After you have done your research on what the photo requirements are for your chosen listing site, make sure to relay this information over to your photographer.  Communication is key!  Theres nothing worse than than perfecting an incredible close up in a vertical shot just to later find out that your listing site blurs it out because it doesn't meet the photo requirements.

    The last step in this section will be to plan ahead with your photographer or yourself how many photos you would like of each room.

    I like to see photos taken at various angles around the room so at least two of each room and be sure you or your photographer is using a wide angle lens to capture more of your space in one single shot.

    Quick Guide For Photo Requirements By Listing Site:
    Airbnb Photo Requirement Vrbo Photo Requirements Booking.com Photo Requirements Expedia Photo Requirements

    At least:

    1024 x 683 px

     

    At least:

    1024 x 683px

    Recommended:

    3840 x 2160px

    At Least:

    3840 x 2160 px

    Recommended:

    4000 x 3000 px

    At least:

    2,880 pixels on the longest side

     

     

    Coffee machine with cappuccino

    Evoke Emotions With Hospitality Touches

      In all of your rental properties, you should give viewers a glimpse of what it would be like to stay there – making an emotional connection with your potential guests is vital in converting bookings and receiving the opportunity to make a traveller's dreams come true.

      Evoking emotions requires what I call hospitality touches but your photographer may call them "props".

       

      It is important to remember that these hospitality touches will be selling points so you want to be clear in your listing whether or not they are included. 

      • For instance if you are doing a lifestyle shoot with a couple on paddle boards make sure to say that the paddle boar rental is $50 for three hours or people may think it comes with the nightly price and if it does great!  But make sure to state it :)

      The goal during this part of your preparation is to ellicit the feelings you would like your potential guests to feel in your home.  Is your home romantic? Do you want them to have fun? Find the emotion and then find examples to showcase how and when they will feel these emotions.

      Here Are Some Ideas For Showcasing Hospitality Touches:
      • Set the Table (classic or for holiday)
      • Set out Wine glasses and a bottle of wine
      • Make cute towel folds
      • Cut fresh fruit for the kitchen
      • Place Fresh flowers around the home
      • Set out Cookies with a cappuccino
      • hot chocolate and marshmallows
      • chocolates by the bedside table
      • Photos of activities to do around your home

          People will always take notice of small touches like this – it shows them that you took time and effort to make the space livable and comfortable for them. 

          bedroom with natural light shining through windows

          Utilize Proper Lighting Techniques

            Just like any photo you have ever taken – lighting is everything! And it is the same for Vacation Rentals.

            No one is attracted to dark, dreary photos, everyone likes bright and airy pictures.  If you take photos at night time and you think you can edit them to look like you took them during the day, sorry but that just won’t happen!

            We always recommend taking your photos during the brightest part of the day. This will give your space the biggest, most open look so people’s eyes will be drawn to your home. Natural lighting is the best lighting to snap photos in – only use artificial lighting in rooms that absolutely need it which is typically bathrooms. If you’re taking photos during the day but your bathroom doesn’t have a window in it, bring in the artificial lighting. Other than that, we recommend natural, daytime lighting.

            If you are wanting mood lighting for your home because maybe it is a romantic retreat, be sure to time your photo shoot with your photographer to see if you can showcase your home at sunset.  Photoshoots usually take an hour so if the sun sets at 6. have them show at 5 to capture your home right as the sun is setting.

            woman enjoying the pool side

            Add Life To Your Photos: People, Plants or Pets

              The goal is to have your potential guests pictures themselves in all of the different spaces in the home so they can really imagine their vacation in YOUR vacation rental.  In order to do that you have to make your photos come alive!

              We truly believe that adding people, plants and pets (if the home is pet friendly) to listing photos portrays the properties as being relatable, cozy and gives guests a feeling of being at home.

              Plants achieve the "living" feeling and people in the frame gives guests a relatable sense to the photos.  We are not suggesting that you have to include models but just think about the additional impact of seeing your amenities come to life.

              Take these examples for instance:
              • If the photo has a shot of a woman tanning by the pool with a drink dripping condensation by her cant you imagine that being you? 
              • Or when you see a family seated around an outdoor fire pit, does this imagery give you a glimpse of what your stay may look like? 
              • Or if you see a picture of a dog jumping into a private lake doesnt that scream "book me" to any pet owner looking to vacay with their furry companions? 

              Homework:  Go through each room in your home and ask yourself, "how can I make this space come alive?" We want to to leave your target market with the feeling that they cant live without staying at your home.

              BBQ Grill Ready to use

              Show Off Your Amenities

                Whether it be an oceanfront beach home or a cabin in the woods near a snowy lake, show off what makes your home special! People love to see that you have a fireplace they can cozy up in front of or a hot tub they can relax in and watch the stars at night.

                When you show off amenities that your home has to offer, people feel like they are getting a better ‘deal’ because their stay will include those big-ticket items, especially when they weren’t originally looking for homes with those things.

                We aren’t saying you NEED these items to rent out your home, but if you have them, flaunt them! 

                Pro Tip:   The hospitality touches we spoke about earlier will help here.  Use that same mindset when showcasing your amenities.  A photo of a hot cup of coco next to the fireplace or a sunscreen basket next to the pool will speak louder than the description explaining that you offer these amenities. 

                Every home has something special to offer so even if you don't have the backdrop of the Tetons as a point of interest to bring people to your home showing a photo of you grilling something on the BBQ will do the trick for those wanting the simple things in life.  Not every vacation rental is in the business of vacations, sometimes they are work stays or even folks "passing through" on their way to their final destination - trust me there is a market for everyone.  First step is just to market what makes your home unique.

                Living room with natural wood beams on ceiling

                Minimize Questions By Showcasing Your Home From Different Angles

                My whole goal in this section is to show you the importance of photos and how showcasing your home from different angles can save you time and money by minimizing future questions.

                As a business owner its up to you to find ways to automate your processes and to optimize your time management.

                If you do a great job at showcasing your home in your photos, you will alleviate potential questions that guests will have before they ask them to you over and over and over. 


                "A picture is worth a thousand words" or in this case, a picture answers a thousand questions that otherwise would have been asked to YOU!

                >>> Heres a great example of the impact of minimizing questions: 

                A guests asks "Is your backyard fully fenced" you answer them "yes". But if you had a photo showcasing different angles of the yard they would be able to see the backyard is fully fenced. Now multiply this question times 20 people who will ask you this very same question.  Sooner or later the time it takes to answer this question could have been avoided all together but instead it has equated to:

                A.) Losing out on bookings because it wasn't clear and they booked elsewhere
                B.) You didn't respond in time and the guest booked another home in the meantime
                C.) You wasted an hour of your life logging into listing sites and answering this question that could have been avoided

                 

                Now do you see the importance of photos?

                So just go for it, include photos from different angle so the potential guests can scourge through your photos and find exactly what they need.

                Pro Tip:  Do you and your future guests a favor and catalog each question you get asked and write the answer in your listing. You can also use captions to achieve this goal to elaborate on unseen items.  Additionally label which floor rooms are located on as this can be confusing for guests. 

                exterior of a white home with covered patio

                Show Off The Exterior

                  When people look to book rental properties, the outside is just as important as the inside. If your property is beachfront, people want to see how close the beach is or if there is a backyard they can lay out in during the day. If your guests are bringing kids or pets on their trip, they want to see where they can spend time outside. Photos of the exterior will surely do these matters justice.

                  In order to achieve great exterior photos be sure to do the due diligence it takes to clean and spiffy up all outside areas in preparation for photos. Guests want to see that you take pride in the care of your property or they would rather stay at home to look at their own houses to tend to all the tasks it takes to maintain a home

                  Remember this is a getaway so guests don't want to be bothered with a home that has a laundry list of maintenance and messes to attend to.  Shoot for perfection and the reviews will reflect this care and concern for your home and your guests.

                  Just remember, your home is a product showcase it like it deserves to be marketed!

                  custom hand drawn home floor plan

                  Include Hand Drawn Floor Plans Or Pictures Of Local Attractions

                  Including one of our custom hand drawn floor plans makes the guest decision easy.  Of course guests will be impressed with the effort you took to make your listing as easily accessible as possible.

                  Say goodbye to questions like:

                  • Is the bedroom on the second floor?
                  • How many people does the table sit?
                  • The listing has one bathroom, do they go through our bedroom to access the bathroom or do they have their own door?

                  This also gives you the opportunity to brand your property and put some extra creativity into how you present your space with customizable colors and labeling.

                  Not only does this home layout show you care about the guest experience but guests will forever rate your property exactly as marketed, no hidden hiccups because exactly what you see is exactly what you get!

                  Not to mention this product can be a keepsake for you as you invest in purchasing and furnishing your first vacation rental, hang it on your wall, frame it to remember your very first vacation rental!

                  Choose the Perfect Thumbnail Photo

                  People begin searching for rental homes by location, then dates of stay and finally they come to the screen with the main marketing image of all the rental homes that fit their search criteria. 

                  Our training today will prepare you for this exact moment where it is imperative that you stand out amongst the crowd.

                  Run through the BEST amenities your home has to offer in your head and then select a photo that represents that item.  This may be a picture of the private pool or even a photo of the great design elements of your home.

                  Whatever it may be, set it to image number one and let the bookings begin!

                  Congrats!  Your home is now photo ready! 

                  Now that you know everything you need to about staging your rental property to attract more guests, it’s time to get to it! 

                  I have learned these tips and tricks throughout my time as a property manager and as a yacht stewardess where hospitality was the name of the game. The best words of advice I can give you is host from the heart and you will end up just fine. People just want to know they are cared about - show that you care and you will be booked all year.

                  Happy Hosting!