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Airbnb listing tips: Photography edition

With a well-described and perfectly compiled Airbnb listing, it’s hard to imagine your target guests would pass over the opportunity to stay with you. Interestingly enough, however, the written details of your listing can sometimes be the final deciding factor in a guest’s Airbnb search. First up: the photographs of your place.

Each Airbnb listing is a sales package, and the pictures within the listings are what bring your pitch to life. So using them wisely is important. The idea is to deliver the feeling of an open house tour as much as possible through only visuals; you want users to feel confident in their expectations when booking your Airbnb.

Everything about your listing’s photographs is important – from the number of pictures, to the order in which they’re shown, down to their most prominent colors. They have to be good, and they have to capture the unique qualities of your place. Why? Because photographs are read and registered 600,000 times faster than plain text. That means that by the time your potential guest reads your listing title, they’ve most likely already made a decision about your Airbnb.

 [Airbnb’s photography archive is] arguably one of the largest repositories of interior photography on the planet.

Joe Gebbia, Airbnb Cofounder

To win over the most bookings, the photographs of your listings need to capture the attention of every type of Airbnb user. Here are the guidelines you need to build the best photographic repertoire you can for each of your Airbnb listings, so all of your target guests will flock to your listing.

“The More, The Merrier” is so Last Year

Airbnb allows you to upload photographs to your heart’s desire, but overwhelming your potential guest with endless pictures of your place won’t necessarily sway them, let alone promise to hold their attention for more than a few minutes. You need to choose photographs wisely, and each should tell its own distinct story about your place.

The ideal number of images is about 15. That being said, the first 5 are the most important, perhaps even the ‘make it or break it’ moment for the users viewing your listing. These appear before your potential guests click into your listing’s full photo collection – they’re the sneak peek into your Airbnb.

There are certain things you should be sure to cover in your listing’s ‘album’, and it may be a good idea to diversify the first 5 photographs so that they each cover a unique type of photo. For instance, you should include one photograph of your surrounding neighborhood, one of any outdoor space or patio, one of the master bedroom, one of a living room or another family room, and one of a kitchen or bathroom. The variety of preview photographs will give your potential guests a good idea of what your place is all about in a single glance.

The rest of your listing’s album should be used to elaborate. Include at least one picture of every room that the guest will have access to. Capture any quirky works of art or pieces of furniture – anything that adds character. Keep in mind that you want to disclose as much as possible to ensure your guest’s experience only exceeds expectations, so it couldn’t hurt to photograph any pets or allergenic flowers, for example. Finally, wow your guests with any landmarks or other notable sites within walking distance of your Airbnb – this is a great way for people to fall in love with your neighborhood and to get a better idea of the location in question.

While it is the goal to have each picture speak for itself, Airbnb gives you the option to add captions to point out and sell what you’re offering or any specific features, and to get your potential guests more excited. For example ‘cozy living room with a fireplace’ or ‘fully equipped kitchen with espresso machine’ sound much more appealing than simply ‘living room’, ‘kitchen’, or blank descriptions altogether.

Ready, Aim, Shoot.

As many of you know, Airbnb offers free professional photography sessions in a variety of cities for a variety of listing types. Once the photographer’s work gets Airbnb-approved, your place’s shots will be rewarded with a beautiful Airbnb verified watermark logo. This is an opportunity to optimize both your listing’s appearance and its search results ranking…all for the price of $0, not too shabby.

If Airbnb’s photography hookup isn’t offered in your area or for your listing in question, or if you decide to take this process into your own hands, there are a few pointers you may want to keep in mind. For one, make sure you keep it clean. Before shooting, use your inner real estate broker to impress the potential guests by tidying up every nook and cranny, but remember to keep it within reason. You don’t want your guests to expect something unrealistically clean, only to be disappointed with the actual result.

Cleanliness can only go so far. Try to take your neat and tidy photographs during the day. Natural sunlight works much better than artificial light at making everything look its best. A bright and airy room will stand out more than a photo taken at night or a drearier time of day.

Once your Airbnb is bright and clean, aim to capture the space in its best angle. Shooting into the corner adds dimensionality & perspective, plus it shows the depth that photographs of flat surfaces can’t communicate. If you choose to dabble in some visual white-lies, there are a few ways to expand space through lighting or horizontal stripes. As long as these details appear in the photographs as-is, designer optical illusions are 100% kosher.

 Airbnb Listing Tips

Make sure to use a decent camera, as this will help maximize the quality of your Airbnb photos. It’s best to use a wide-angle DSLR, but these days you can get great results with even an advanced mobile phone camera. Regardless of the quality, Airbnb recommends using bigger photos for prime resolution.

Focus on getting the entire room in focus. Anything pixelated will look like you took the pictures quickly with no effort – aside from the appearance of pictures themselves, it’s important for you to communicate to your potential guests that you take hosting seriously throughout the whole process.

Finally, in the battle of landscape vs. portrait, always choose landscape. Horizontal dimensions happen to fit best on the listing page. Moreover, keep your photos consistent. This will make the clicking through of your pictures flow better for your potential guests. If you must take a specific photograph with a portrait layout because it won’t fill out the landscape (i.e. in the case of a small, narrow bathroom), take a couple of different portrait shots and stitch them together into one landscape image using your favorite photo editing software.

Does This Setup Make My Bedroom Look Fat?

There are a few game plans that can help ensure that each room looks its best. For instance, all bedroom photographs should feature a made bed organized with all relevant pillows and shams. You’d probably prefer a neat room to catch some Z’s, so communicate that comfort in your picture.

When shooting the bathroom, it may be a good idea to hide any awkward personal toiletries such as sanitary napkins or used hairbrushes. You can add a nice touch by putting down the toilet seat and cleaning your towels.

It may go without saying, but a kitchen photograph should show no sign of used dishes or crumbs. Just as you would in your dining room, set any tables not only to make the shot more visually appealing but also to communicate your place’s livability and to extend a warm welcome. It doesn’t hurt to add a few wine glasses here and there to give off a more luxurious impression, or some fruit baskets or homemade goods to give off that sought-after homey vibe. Keep in mind that these homey features are some of those that most separate Airbnb from hotels, so it can only help to play them up as much as possible.

Similarly, you want your living room to look comfortable and welcoming. Fluff pillows and scatter some coffee table books that seem inviting to your potential guests. On top of that, sprinkle some flowers around to add a delicate and calming touch.

Now, To Frame The Whole Process…

Remember, your photographs are the first standout impression that your potential guests can get from your listing to distinguish it from the competition. Not only will your target guests process images first but also about 60% of people are visual learners, meaning they will digest your photographic content better than they would your textual content. It’s important to remember these factors while planning your photo strategy, as you’re going to want approach the visual aspects of your listing as the highlight of your Airbnb sales package. The best part is, once your photos are in play and attract guests, Guesty can manage the rest of your booking process for you – your work here is done.

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