October 29, 2015

The Need for a Plan: The Evolution of Vacation Rental Photography

We’ve seen the professionalization of the vacation rental industry, and we know of the evolution of the vacation rental industry. This week, Michael Heller, of TruPlace, walks us through the evolution of vacation rental photography and what you need to know to stay ahead of the competition.

It seems like just yesterday, vacation rental management companies didn’t even bother to show photographs of their rental properties. How could they possibly take the time to photograph an exterior, let alone the interior of a property? And if they did have the time, how could they keep track of all those photos and post them to their website—if they even had a website? Then there was the issue of keeping those photos current and up-to-date after homeowners updated rooms and bought new furniture.

It was enough to make you shutter.

Enter the Guest

What the guest wants, the guest often gets.

Eventually, vacation rental managers noticed that guests were more likely to rent a property if they could first see photos (duh). It was at this point that photos crossed over from becoming a want to a need—from a luxury to a necessity.

And so, vacation rental managers everywhere grabbed their Instamatic cameras or borrowed an SLR camera from somebody and started shooting every possible detail of their properties. In some cases, they would shoot what they saw for a realistic look. Other times, they took the time to stage the scene a bit; however, they seldom bothered with lighting or worried about the glare from a window.

Enter the Pro

This pointed out the need for professional photographs that showed the property at its best, with proper angles and lighting. Vacation rental managers who hired the professionals found that their properties looked much better than the competition’s; you could even see the view of the ocean out the window from inside the room, without losing the detail of the furnishings! It’s amazing what HDR photography and f-stops can accomplish!

In a fairly short period of time, the industry went from no photos to bad photos to professional photos.


The Plan

Unfortunately, while great photos are a significant improvement, they still don’t give prospective renters all the information they need to make a decision. For example, where is the kitchen in relation to the master bedroom? How far away is the kid’s room from the master suite? Where can grandma sleep on the first floor? You can look at great photos all day long and still not know the answers to those questions. Yes, you can call and ask, which takes several minutes of a reservation agent’s time, but many people (especially millennials) will move on to another site if they don’t see what they want right now.

And so, along comes the floor plan. It seemed like such a no-brainer. Why not show the guest how the property is laid out? They can see exactly where everyone is going to sleep, congregate, share bathrooms, etc. with precise detail.


In an effort to marry professional photos and floor plans, TruPlace‘s Interactive Floor Plan was born.

Together at Last

Using combined professional photos and floor plans, guests can quickly and easily see where a room is located in relation to other rooms and see the exact spot where the photographs were taken.

While professional photos became a necessity at one point, we’re now at the point where just like photos, interactive floor plans are a necessity—not a luxury. In this day of instant gratification and information overload, give your guests this type of a complete, detailed, location-specific, beautiful view of the property, or you’re just asking them to move on to your competitors’ sites.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of rented.

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