Your future guests are out there, you just need to capture their attention with your listing photos. Research shows that vacation rental decisions are often made based on photos alone, before text and even rates. Your photos have the power to create the desire to book immediately, and that power lies with you, your camera and the ability to make magic happen with it.
Capturing a great photo takes a little bit of time, so your photo shoot should be a planned exercise, not a matter of grabbing the iphone and taking a few snaps. Use a good digital camera (or a phone with high-quality camera), take pictures in RAW / HDR settings and shoot your photos in daylight. If you’re not comfortable behind a camera, consider hiring a photography student or a professional photographer.
As a rule of thumb, you want to capture every room in the home and ensure there’s no clutter pictured in the images, the rooms should feel spacious and inviting. We recommend adding a little bit of decorative flare through staging (see our tips to enhance your rental by celebrity designer Jo Alcorn), but keep in mind that any items used for staging should be available to travellers who book the property.
Here are some of the key images you can focus on to help you get started:
1. Feature Image
The feature image should be your best exterior shot. This is the first one your prospective guests will see when they come to your listing, so failing to attract them with this shot could lose you their business altogether, as they may scroll past it and on to the next home.
If the exterior of your property is obscured by trees or it is in a condo building, use a strong image of your living room interior, or another exterior shot that shows of a unique aspect of the home, like waterfront access, city views or a dock.
2. Patio / Balcony Area
Show off one of the best assets of your home – the outdoor space! A bottle of wine, a few glasses, a basket of bread on a patio table is enough to get your guests imagining taking leisurely lunches outside. Always have the umbrella up and chairs neatly arranged around the table. If you have lounge furniture, make sure your pillows and accessories look fresh and inviting.
Not surprisingly, listings with stunning views tend to be more popular amidst travellers. Whether it’s a great sunset, mist rising over water in an early morning, or a city view, every one matters. If you have one, you can stage the viewing area with a simple set-up of a lounge chair with a cup of coffee and a Kindle/Ipad (or even a good old-fashioned book) on the arm, or a bistro table with a bottle of wine and two glasses for a romantic sunset view.
4. People Pictures
Some would argue that you should never have people in your listing images but certain types of images can help increase conversion if they highlight activities in and around your property. Examples are someone paddling a canoe, kayak or paddleboard, or a child fishing off the end of a dock. These focus should be on the settings / activity, and not the person. Use them sparingly and ensure you have permission to use the photos for the purposes of advertising your property.
Great bedroom images sell! You want your guests to imagine ending a wonderful vacation day by snuggling into your beds. Beds should look inviting with attractive bedding, plenty of pillows and throw cushions. Make sure lamps are on before you take the photos. Before you shoot, consider adding small decorative accents to give the rooms character and that sense of home.
If your property has a fireplace and you offer it for winter rental, make sure you have at least one image of the room with the fire going. This creates an inviting warmth that is difficult to resist for people who are looking for a break in colder weather.
7. Hot Tub or Swimming Pool
A photo of a hot tub with a cover on it does little to inspire desire, whereas that same tub with the jets going can deliver a nudge to a casual looker and get them to book. Ripples on a swimming pool can have the same effect. Couple it with a deckchair draped with a colourful towel to make it feel even more inviting.
The kitchen is an important part of your property as it’s one of the spaces that differentiates vacation rentals from hotels and is also where guests end up spending a lot of their time, gathering to prepare and enjoy meals with their group. Do this space justice by capturing the room and all its features, and any close-ups of stand-out amenities like espresso makers or popcorn machines. You want your guests to be able to picture themselves being able to feel at home in this space.
9. Dining area
This is where you can really excel with photography particularly if your vacation home is rented for celebrations. Capture the main dining areas at its maximum seating capacity and dress the table for the shoot as if you were expecting guests for dinner.
10. Your Property Sign
A professional sign with the name of your property can have a positive impact on guests who might be wary of booking online. In addition to helping travellers recognize the property when they arrive, this upfront display shows a professional level of servie and can have an impact on how your guests connect with the place. The instant identification closes the loop between booking and arriving at the destination.
Images are the most important part of your listing build and can have a very powerful impact on your booking conversion rate. If there’s one part of your listing that you want to spend a little bit of time to doing well, this is it!