So you have a listing on Airbnb…
You’ve signed up on Airbnb, created your listing and entered a description of the property that would make poets weep with joy. What’s next? You have to upload some photos, of course! In today’s digital age, people simply won’t show any interest in a place that they can’t see first. This is something any successful real-estate agent will tell you. If you browse through online listings on MLS, you will invariably be drawn to the properties that have better photos. So your Airbnb listing needs some good photos.
That’s fine, I own a camera phone…
Stop. That may be so, but remember how I mentioned that the MLS listings that you’re probably going to be more drawn to have better photos? Chances are those photos weren’t taken by the agent or the homeowner. They were most likely taken by a professional photographer who specializes in photographing properties. There is a lot more that goes into photographing interiors than most people realize until they try it. Getting the lighting right is obviously the biggest challenge as everything either comes out too bright or too dark, but there’s also the question of how to show the space without making it look distorted. One of the most common mistakes I see is when someone photographs a room with as wide a lens as they can get their hands on, from a high angle and with the camera pointed down. This makes the room look excessively large and distorted.
Wait, don’t I want the room to look really big?
Nope. There is a limit to how much exaggerated perspective is acceptable. If you go out of your way to make the room look as big as possible, you will get bookings… at first. People are going to love booking the huge, gigantic space you have for rent. When they get there and see that it’s nowhere near as big as it looked in the photos, however, they won’t be happy. Unhappy people leave bad reviews. Bad reviews are not good for long-term success. A professional photographer knows how to make the room feel big without making it look big.
But it’s just an Airbnb listing…
The word “just” needs to be removed from that sentence. Think about what you’re doing: you’re marketing a product and a service to people. Also, you’re not the only one! Take a look at your area on Airbnb. If you’re in a large city, chances are you’ll see over 1000 listings similar to yours. Some of them are going to have great photos. So how do you stand out? Remember our MLS example from earlier? This is no different. People are going to be drawn to the listings with better photos first, and those are the listings that are going to have a better chance of being booked.
Remember, you’re competing with potentially over 1000 other people on Airbnb for the same clientele. You need to look into every advantage you can to stand out from the crowd and show what makes your place different. Obviously that means you need a great description and some good reviews, but you also need some high-quality photography.
Does professional photography really make a difference?
The short answer is “yes”. A professional photographer will know how to find the angles that show the place in its best light, both literally and figuratively. The secret is to make the photo feel as big as possible without making it look too much bigger than it really is. Just using a wide-angle lens on your camera may not be enough to do that.
Photos with weird colour issues and exposure problems aren’t very helpful.
A professional knows how to control the lighting in the room and balance it with the natural light from the windows.
But aren’t professionals expensive?
First: probably not as much as you’re thinking. Second: everything is relative. Remember, this isn’t for personal use like a family portrait. You’re on Airbnb because you’re running a business. The goal is to create good marketing material that will help you make money. Spending some money to have a professional photographer help you by creating images on a level that you can’t do yourself is a justifiable expense because it will pay off very quickly (probably with your first booking). Remember, you’re only going to pay for the photos once. They will be used for as long as you like, bringing you bookings over and over again.
Take a look at this article for a bit more information on real-estate photography.