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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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).
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).
Here’s my neighborhood from way up high. I just love how it gives a new traveler 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.”
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.
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:
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.
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