6 Upgrades To Your Current Vacation Rental Photographs

Author: Matt Landau
Category: Uncategorized
July 28, 2015

As owners and managers, we’re constantly looking for ways to make our property stand out. And the first step — getting professional photos (if you don’t already have them) — is not rocket science:

You choose a photographer. You hire them. You pay them. You publish the photos. And you watch your inquiries increase.

[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=””]Note: It still astounds me how many people don’t take this advice. If you’re going to purchase professionally made furniture, why not invest in professionally taken photos?[/thrive_text_block]

But thanks to some brilliant advice from a small handful of Inner Circle members, I wanted to open your eyes to a whole new level of vacation rental image skills…6 things I learned to help kick my own photo galleries up a notch.

1. This Interactive Photo Tool Is Awesome

We know that pictures can be used in place of “a thousand words.” But what about for vacation rentals when we need to have both pictures AND words in order to market our properties? Thanks to Linda Lou Huiskes 1, I learned about a tool called ThingLink, which converts any image (like the example of her villa below) into an interactive map, ideal for showing where those sprawling views or miniscule details fit in the overall scheme of your property.

[thrive_borderless type=’custom_code’ position=’default’][/thrive_borderless]

2. Staging Doesn’t Have To Be Boring

I have never been a huge fan of staging just because when it’s not done right, it can come off as weird (or lazy…like, “um, why did the owner leave their shoes lying on the bathroom floor?”) But I learned from Donn Tisch 2 that staging, when done in a subtle yet elegant way, can turbocharge your vacation rental photos.

Subtle Yet Elegant Staging Is Sexy
Subtle Yet Elegant Staging Is Sexy

Donn turned me on to the work of The Clear Creek Group (aka. staging masterminds) and he specifically loved this photo (above) that exposes the under lying comforter, “making the beds look so comfortable that you just want to climb in and snooze. And having the towels stacked on top of the commode, again, brilliant!”

3. There Is A Way To Capture “The View” From Indoors

Lots of vacation rentals have great views and these views are what really “sell” the nights. But at the risk of being over or under exposed, it’s tricky to capture that stunning view in a photo taken from inside the rental itself. I learned from Amy Greener 3 about a technique called HDR (high dynamic range), which involves taking several exposures (under and over) and merging them together (as you see below). Photographers can use different programs to do the merge, but Amy has only used Lightroom and Photoshop.

Capture A Stunning View Using HDR
Capture A Stunning View Using HDR

Note: If you are in a position to benefit from this technique, read more about it in this case study featuring Jan Stevens and her gorgeous rental (above).

4. Most People Don’t Upload/Tag VR Photos Properly

One of the biggest challenges I encounter when browsing vacation rental websites is the load time. Many owners (including myself) have heavy image files that weigh down the loading process. So when Donna Martinez 4 shared an SEO audit done for her rental, we learned to immediately speed up loading times by reducing photo sizes using services such as PunyPNG or JpegMini. Further, Donna pointed out that most website owners are not using relevant file names for their VR photos. This means that they’re not ranking in Google Images nor are the search engines picking up on the website’s relevance. Donna taught me that a file name should already indicate what’s on the image (sunset-florida.jpg) as opposed to the file name (such as DSC0125.jpg).

5. Behold The Power Of Drones…

Here’s my neighborhood from way up high. I just love how it gives a new traveler perspective.

Drones Give New Perspective
Drones Give New Perspective

But while it may be prohibitively expensive to hire a professional architectural drone “pilot” to come and capture images of your vacation rental from the sky, Bryan Magargee 5  taught me a brilliant little hack. “I have a friend that works at a hobby shop and I asked him if anyone there would want to do some drone shots for my property (inside and out) and he said he could do it and was really excited to get $20 an hour just for shooting no editing. So try your local hobby shop, there are some really talented drone pilots working there and will most likely be ecstatic to get some side work.”

6. Getting Floorplans Is Easier Than Ever Before

Last year, we discovered that getting floorplans for your vacation rental puts you on a new playing field from the rest of the competition. But back then, floorplans used to be either cumbersome to create or prohibitively expensive to have commissioned.

No Better Way To Show Scale Of A Rental
No Better Way To Show Scale Of A Rental

So it was with great excitement that Claire O’Connor 6 opened my eyes to FloorPlanner.com, which, for as little as $4.95, is pretty hard to turn down. Claire says, “I found the learning curve to be not too bad at all. Very fun to play around in, actually. You can create a floor plan and it automatically also generates a 3D version, too!”

So there you have it, 5 really awesome vacation rental photo upgrades that can make your listing page or website a step above the rest. Thanks to all the Inner Circle members for their great suggestions. And using the comments section below, do you think that your rental could benefit from any of these tips?

Here are the Inner Circle members featured along with their websites:

About the author 

Matt Landau

Matt Landau is the Founder of the VRMB and the Inner Circle, two online resources dedicated to helping vacation rental owners and managers generate more bookings.

    1. Excellent point Conrad! There is an even greater importance to having the alt-tag included (which I have been updating on all my photos). Search Engines AND persons with visual impairments can not view the images. This month the USA is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act which focuses on in a large part accessibility to public and private spaces for persons with disabilities. One such space is the internet. Alt-tags are critical for those persons with low vision or who are blind. Alt-tags enable visually impaired website visitors using auditory browsers to access information. Without relevant Alt-Tags our websites may not be ADA Section 508 compliant or WAI compliant in Europe. I am going through all my photos both on my VRs website and our blog to make sure that they not only fit within the keywords used for searches and SEO strength, but also fit in helping all visualize our wonderful Abalone Bay.

      1. Here are a few resources to learn more about making your websites ADA accessible:

        WebAIM: Section 508 Checklist

        ADA Tool Kit

        Accessibility of State and Local Government

        Litigation Over Website Accessibility is Exploding:

        Internet Accessibility – Great Lakes ADA Center

  1. Awesome advice Matt! As owner of Virtuance, I’m a little biased, but we are firm believers in the fact that professional photography makes a world of difference! Hope alls well.

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  3. We just traded a long weekend at our condo to a husband & wife team who are professional photographers with a drone. Can’t wait to see the results. Bartering is a great win win opportunity that is sometimes overlooked.

  4. What a fantastic article! We’ve had vacation rentals for a few years now and it’s amazing how many new things I learned from this article. Thanks a million!

  5. Great article Matt. It remineded me that there is always something new to learn, add to our VR site’s and lift the presentation level of them. I bought a drone and I made my first movie. It is the first one and I hope next one will make a step forward… https://youtu.be/NOnzxMCZegc Let me know what you think guys. Cheers!

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