Vacation Rental Photographer Test: Before and After

Debbie Martin, the owner of Pilrig House Apartments, was not unlike a lot of my subscribers.

Her fleet of 3 apartment rentals in Scotland was a good, thriving business.

She had been a previous finalist and winner of a Scottish Thistle Award (Scotland’s Tourism Board’s highest accolade), and she was doing great with her bookings (“obtaining around 80% occupancy year-round”). In fact, she had previously used a professional photographer for her photos!

So when she took my advice in investing in better photos from an actual architectural photographer, it wasn’t necessarily expected to be a game changer.

Here are some side-by-side comparisons of Debbie’s old photos and new ones. First, the original set of photos:

“I took your advice regarding having a professional photographer come to photograph our apartments, and, simply placed these on VRBO and a few other key sites,” Debbie wrote to me. “And it has made a BIG difference in level of inquiries and bookings. So, a huge thank you for provoking this action! I thought our existing pictures were pretty good, but the new ones are wonderful by comparison.”

And here are the new photos (same angles, same rooms) and boy, what a glorious difference…

It’s interesting how often I hear this. “I thought my photos were pretty good, but these new ones are great!” I like to draw the analogy to technology: you may be totally content with your current cell phone, but when the newer, better one becomes available, it improves your satisfaction level tri-fold. You simply never knew that such better, more useful technology existed!

Just to really hammer home the point, here is an isolated side-by-side of the exact same perspective in one of the bedrooms. Can you see the difference?

As you can see from the cool staging, this photographer was something of an expert. “The photographer I chose also owns and rents properties,” Debbie said, “and I was able to look at her own photos and it clinched the deal. She sent me an email with details about her photography packages and specialty in the sector.”

Debbie reported that thus far, the new photos are only on VRBO and HomeAway (with her new site to launch in 2 weeks) but “already the impact has been HUGE.”

Professional photos are a great chance to raise the bar on your marketing. You can read the perfect example of how well it works here: Good Versus Great Vacation Rental Photos.

So if you have not invested in professional photos, what are you waiting for?


About the Author Matt Landau

Matt Landau is the Founder of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog and the Inner Circle, two online resources dedicated to helping vacation rental owners and managers generate more bookings. Google+ | More Posts (230)

  • Aqui

    You are right, photos are the name of the game.

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  • insidestoryphotography

    Nice article Matt. I took the photographs mentioned above for Debbie at Pilrig House Apartments and they really were a pleasure to photograph. Nice to see someone else talk about how important good images are for your website – something I repeatedly tell my clients. Tracey, Inside Story Photography.

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  • Harry Lim

    The professional photos are indeed better but not great. The photographer used HDR and the vast majority of HDR for interiors/real estate is not used correctly. Notice the halos around the trees and the muddy mid-tones and off-white balance in the interior shots.

  • As always, great post Matt. And even though this article is already few years old, it still holds true for many vacation rental owners today. In fact, we still encounter clients who stand to benefit immensely from implementing this one simple trick. It’s the reason we collaborated with Tyann Marcink (one of the most sought after authorities in vacation rental photography) to come up with a case study to explain the truth about professional vacation rental photography and to show people exactly how much great vacation rental photos are worth. Tell us what you think of the article! Here’s a link to the article;

  • cindiSue

    I’ve had some issues with a professional photographer. One is that he doesn’t do staging, you have to hire a separate stager, and that isn’t easy to coordinate when you aren’t at the property. Then my neighbor did it anyway (she did her own staging), and he came when it fit his schedule, not when the lighting was great. So there aren’t pictures of the inside which also show the outside through the windows. I just wasn’t that impressed. Maybe that’s because he charges $400 and not $1000.