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Invest in a Professional

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Way back when, fuzzy point-and-shoot digital photographs with awkward angles and bad perspectives were the norm for vacation rental marketing.

In those days, anyone who sprang for crisp, professional photography automatically rocketed themselves above the local competition.

That time is long past. Now, for serious owners and managers, investing in a professional photographer is practically a given. And actually, I’d argue this is a good thing.

If first-time vacation renters hop onto a site like Airbnb and find grainy, hard-to-understand photographs, they’ll run straight back to the standardized experience of hotels. On the other hand, if they find dozens of pretty, well-photographed vacation rental properties, they’ll realize that vacation rentals have a lot to offer.

And of course, that benefits everyone in our industry.

The more pressing concern now is how to make the most of our experience when we hire professional photographers. 

When I went through the process of getting my own rentals photographed, I made some mistakes. I assumed I could just sit back and let the photographer work their magic.

But I learned that being an involved participant is key to getting good results.

On that note, here are some things to make sure you do to prep for your VR’s photo shoot.

Set the stage.

Before the photographer arrives, make sure your space is, of course, absolutely pristine. It should really sparkle.

Then, make key some additions to really showcase your space.

Arrange fresh-cut flowers on the bedside nightstand, for example. Add a bowl of colorful citrus fruits to the kitchen counter. Fix dinner-party-ready place settings around the table. Fold or roll the bathroom towels to create a spa-like feeling. The list goes on. Go ahead and get creative!

Details not only add visual interest, they show potential guests you care about the little things that will make their experience special.

Meet and greet the photographer.

If possible, you should be at the property while your photographer takes his or her photos.

This allows you to explain, in person, what areas of the property you’d like them to focus on. If your swimming pool your biggest selling point, encourage them to spend a good amount of time getting some “wow” shots of the pool area.

Not that you want to hover over them and practically steal the camera from their hands, of course! They’re the experts, after all.

But a bit of gentle guidance at the outset goes a long way. They know photography, but no one knows your property, and what your guests are looking for, better than you do.

Horizontal pictures work best.

Most photographers won’t mind this bit of direction.

Listing sites and websites are structured in a screen-friendly way that favors horizontal photographs, so it’s best to have the majority of your photos in this format.

Detail photographs work, too!

We’re finding that close-up, artistically styled photographs work wonders when it comes to boosting inquiries and bookings. People just love looking at pretty things up close!

A zoomed-in shot of a patterned pillow, for example, has a professional (and quite beautiful) feel that will ensure you’re getting your money’s worth during your photography session.

Make sure you get both high and low resolution photos.

You’ll be using your photos for various purposes (listing sites, your own website, e-marketing, blogging, and other advertising opportunities) so be sure to get both high and low-res version so you’ll be ready to meet the specifications of different venues.

And most of all, enjoy the process! This is your rental’s time to shine, and it can be quite fun to see your space anew through the eyes of a professional.

About Alanna

real estate investor . entrepreneur . educator . mama . friend . problem solver


  1. Zachary Tomlinson says

    I find it interesting to learn that professional photographers can add value to one’s vacation rental property. Since my uncle is thinking of converting one of his old properties into a rental, hiring someone who can present the home using close-up and artistically styled photos is a brilliant idea. I should share this with him so he’d be able to hire once after this pandemic.

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Alanna has been my go-to person as I've navigated the learning curves of running my vacation rental businesses.  She helped...

Cathy Scott

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Cathy Scott

Alanna has been my go-to person as I've navigated the learning curves of running my vacation rental businesses.  She helped me re-brand my properties, market them effectively, and connect with other valuable industry resources.
Alanna at The Distinguished Guest has been an invaluable resource while setting up my first vacation rental.  I recently bought...

Robert Howell

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Robert Howell

Alanna at The Distinguished Guest has been an invaluable resource while setting up my first vacation rental.  I recently bought a house in Hilton Head Island and knew nothing about what it takes to be a successful vacation rental.  Alanna has always been willing to lend a helping hand and responds quickly to all of my many questions!  If you're looking to set up a new vacation rental or refresh an existing rental, I would highly recommend contacting Alanna to help out.  She provides a 5 star experience!
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