Marketing a vacation rental may require a little extra effort when you own a property in an area with many great rental properties. When all else is equal, people who have their pick of rental properties will naturally focus on the most attractive rental property they see. In a world of near-instant vacation rental booking, the way in which a property is presented can make a significant difference. Sure, snapping a few pictures with your phone may be quick and easy, but how much is being left on the table with this option? How many “almost-renters” will you miss out on over the course of a year?
Here are a few reasons why professional photography might just be one of the best investments you ever make for your vacation rental’s marketing.
DIY vs Professional Photos
Capturing a sense of space and light in a room can be difficult for an untrained photographer. At the same time, it’s relatively easy for people to identify a good photo versus a bad or mediocre photo. Most interior pictures of rooms look naturally flat and dark in photographs. Back lighting and dim interior lighting can cast much of the room in shadow and make it look smaller than it actually is. It takes a trained eye, a good camera and expensive photo manipulation software to create the best interior images of rental real estate.
Fundamentals of Two-Dimensional Design
Professional photographers are trained to examine the way lines meet together in a room. They notice symmetry and asymmetry, balance and form. They know how to create photographs that are full of attractive details, textures and color. Photographers know where to stand in order to capture the greatest sense of space.
Even more importantly, professional photographers know what renters are looking for when they’re scanning the images in rental listings. Renters are generally seeking rental properties that are spacious, attractive, and comfortable. They want homes that have room to spread out. They seek cheerful, bright spaces where they can kick back and enjoy their vacation. Professional photographers know how to stage a home so renters will see what they want to see. In my market (Breckenridge, CO), you can see an example of this in action on the ski-in/out condos page. While these listings are for condos for sale rather than for rent, the general principle of real estate photography still applies. Which listings jump out to you first? People’s eyes will typically be drawn to the most attractive photos. Furthermore photos that depict the intended use of a property are more likely to lead to an inquiry.
Images Sell Faster than Words
Why do images from a professional photographer make such a difference? Because images sell faster than words. People seeking a vacation rental usually look with their eyes first, and scan words second. Listings have just seconds to grab the attention of the person renting the property. Without good pictures, potential renters may not see how comfortable, light-filled and cheerful a property is. They’ll often over look good properties in favor of other properties that have better pictures.
It has been said that hiring a professional photographer can double a homeowner’s vacation rental bookings. Anecdotal evidence should always be taken with a grain of salt—however, even if the choice to get professional photography yields only half of this result, that is still a very significant difference over the course of a year.
Hiring a professional photographer can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousand or more. This cost includes travel time, staging and set up, picture taking and editing. This price tag also pays for something even more important: the photographer’s experience. The most experienced photographers know the most about what they’re doing, and often charge the most. Choosing what price range you are comfortable with will depend on your situation, market, and goals. The math is pretty straightforward. Taking the cost of photography and dividing it by the average amount earned per booking will yield the amount of extra bookings (bookings that may have otherwise been missed due to poor photos) needed to break even on this investment.
The difference between professional, semi-professional and amateur photographs can be immense. If you own a vacation rental property, it may be time to consider hiring a pro if you haven’t already. Your professional photographer will help you create images that will catch the eyes of potential renters.
Pete Deininger is a real estate agent with The Breck Life Group at eXp Realty. With prior experience as a builder, web developer, and real estate investor, Pete has a unique perspective on the inner workings of many aspects of the real estate industry.