8 Photos Not to Include on Your Listing

There is no doubt that good photographs can sell.  Sparkling sunlight over a blue lake; an image of a cozy fire with festive decorations on a mantel, and pillowy duvets plumped up on a bed with throw pillows offering a stunning contrast.  These types of images will be revisited over and over again as excited guests look forward to their vacation and plan their stay.  They will pore over every photo, show their friends, and share on social media.  If you get this part wrong, not only will bookings be slower to come, but there’s a good likelihood visitors to your listing will pass it by altogether even if only one of the images if off-putting.

In general no amount of prime location, competitive rental rate and amenities will stand up against a poorly lit, badly staged image with a lack of attention to detail.  Here’s how not to do it…..

1. Bathroom with toilet seat up
Everyone knows what a toilet looks like – unless you have a funky Japanese toilet that incorporates USB ports, card readers and video monitor to listen to music or view photographs which may make it a feature in itself – it’s better to avoid the toilet picture.  If it’s difficult to avoid, at least put the lid down.

2. Bedroom showing flat bed
Guests want to imagine themselves climbing into a comfortable bed with fluffy pillows and duvets.  They want it to look attractive and welcoming.  A bed that had a single blanket or flat comforter with two thin pillows will not deliver the right image, and since a good sleep is a major part of a vacation, getting this one wrong could have a negative impact.  Create a boutique hotel bedroom look instead, and you’ll see results.

3.Cluttered kitchens
No-one wants to see a fridge covered with magnets and notes, cabinet tops piled with baking tins and work surfaces cluttered with stuff but there are plenty of those images to be found on vacation rental listings.  For many people new to rental, their first thought may be of the self-catering aspect – how easy it will be to cook in a strange kitchen – and if it looks cramped and messy it won’t make it to their short list. 

4. Stained fire surrounds
Open fireplaces or inserts can be a very attractive feature particularly in popular winter rental regions, and images depicting a blazing fire are appealing.  However, smoke-blackened and stained fire surrounds will have the opposite effect. 

5. Wet decks and patios with furled umbrellas
Bad weather happens on vacation, but it’s not the best idea to help your guests imagine it by including photos taken on a rainy or cloudy day.  Similarly an image of a patio table with furled umbrella on a wet deck can deliver a negative message.  All exterior photos should be taken on sunny days with decks and patios showing the best sunshine experience.

6. Exteriors taken when leaves are off trees
Following from the last point, the only time you should include leafless trees on images is when they are covered in snow.  Regardless of what time of year your guests will be coming, they need to see the best possible depiction of your location.  That means leafy trees or heavily snow-laden branches in winter locations.

7. Dog bowls and pet beds
This is a bit of a tricky one. If your property is not pet-friendly but your pictures show evidence of your own pet’s stuff, it will deliver the wrong message.  Even if you do accept pets, it’s still not a good idea.  What does work is an image of a dedicated pet corner with a clean pet bed or blanket with other pet items arranged on top of it – food bowls, a pet toy, and your pet address tags for example.

8. Sofas with old throws and blankets
Grandma’s old hand knitted throw may have huge sentimental value but it has no place in a photo on a listing.  Even in a cozy cabin, emphasis should be on contemporary comfort, regardless of the rustic location.  The same goes for old blankets thrown over a bed or draped over the back of a sofa.

While you may never have control over who comes to your listing, the photos you show can have a big impact on their final accommodation choice.  Consider investing in professional staging and photography – it could be one of the best decisions you can make.