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Ep.29 Unlocking Pro Setups - Our Hacks for Stunning Listing Photos

Short Summary

Do you want to see increased bookings and higher rental income for your property? Are you making this big mistake with your rental listings? 

You might be surprised to learn that skipping professional photography could be costing you major bookings and revenue. Discover the unexpected impact of pro photos on your rental success and learn how to prepare your space for photography. Stay tuned for the eye-opening insights that could change the game for your rental properties.

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Capture the true essence of your rental property with professional photography for increased bookings and higher rental income.

  • Elevate your rental property's appeal and attract more guests through proper staging for photo shoots.

  • Ensure consistency between the visual representation and the actual guest experience to boost bookings and rental income.

  • Foster a positive environment for photographers to bring out the best in your rental property and attract more guests.

  • Witness the direct impact of professional photos on your bookings and rental income, and take your short-term rental business to the next level.

Maximize Bookings with Professional Photography

Investing in professional photography can significantly boost your short-term rental bookings. High-quality images help showcase the best features of your property, attracting more potential guests. It’s a worthwhile expense, with the potential returns greatly outweighing the initial investment.

Elevate Rental Appeal through Proper Staging

Professional staging can highlight your property’s best features, making it stand out in a saturated market. Attention to details like fluffing curtains and tucking away unsightly items can make a big difference in the photoshoot. Moreover, avoid over-staging to ensure the space meets your guests' expectations on arrival.

Consistency between Visuals and Experience

Ensuring a consistent experience for your guests starts with accurate representation through photography. What guests see in the photos should align with their actual experience at your property. This not only paves the way for positive reviews but also avoids disappointments and confusion upon arrival.

Action steps mentioned in this episode are:

  • Maximize bookings with professional photography that showcases your rental in the best light.

  • Elevate your rental's appeal by mastering the art of proper staging for eye-catching photo shoots.

  • Ensure consistency between photos and real-life experiences to build trust and attract more guests.

  • Foster a positive environment for photographers to capture the essence of your rental, boosting its desirability.

  • Witness the direct impact of professional photos on increasing bookings and rental income.

Link and Resources

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Follow Jacquie on Instagram: ⁠⁠




Tracie Fowler

Welcome to the STR Insiders podcast. We share tips for achieving your STR goals. Aha moments, funny stories, and all the latest gossip of this STR life. Listen in as we keep it real and maybe a little sassy. Celebrate successes and own all the mistakes we've made along the way. Whether you're new to real estate investing and new to short term rentals or a Stephen pro, there's something here for you. Jacquie is an STR property manager who consults with individuals looking to grow their own property management firm. Tracie owns STR consulting and media firms that provide education to investors who want to learn all about STR investing. For more information, please visit ww Hi everyone, and welcome to another episode of the STR Insiders podcast.


Tracie Fowler

Listing mistakes is what we're talking about here, and not getting pro photos might be the biggest mistake you could make, in my opinion. It's such an easy thing to do, and it's really in context of the amount of money that it will make you. It's a very small investment for a major return, and if you have all your signs up and all your labeling up, it just kind of takes away from the beauty of those shots. So I typically try to do most of that stuff after photography if possible. Or at least I'll pull the little bathroom sign that says toilet paper only. Don't destroy our pipes. I can take that one off the wall and take the bathroom shot and then put the sign back. But what other things, Jacquie, do you think staging wise are really important for photography?


Jacquie Mosher

Another thing I kind of want to mention too is I'll bring it up to a client that we need a photo shoot, and the client will be like a couple hundred dollars for a photo shoot. I don't want to spend that money and it's become a not like this is not an option for me. If I'm going to host your stage, you get a professional photo shoot because those photos are going to make you so much more money, especially if done well.


Tracie Fowler

Ryan, if you're listening to this episode, get your photos done. My phone photos were temporary.


Jacquie Mosher

I don't know who Brian is, but.


Tracie Fowler

Ryan is a client. Well done and he listens to the podcast.


Jacquie Mosher

Hi. Get your photos done. So funny. But yeah, it is worth. I mean, those photos are going to make you so much more than what that photo shoot cost. So just spend the money, get it done right. In addition to that, a photo shoot deserves a lot of attention from you before the photographer shows up. The number of times my photographer, Kevin, has told me these horror stories about him showing up to Airbnbs or short term rentals to take photos and the things that he finds. He was telling me how he showed up the other day and the beds weren't even made.


Tracie Fowler

Wow. Do you want to point out there's a whole episode on photography with Kevin in our backlog as well. The beds weren't even made.


Jacquie Mosher

Yeah, he was telling me he showed up, the beds weren't even made, and it was just holding him up. He's like, okay, well, you need to make these beds. I'm going to go take photos of this thing and I'll come back. And he's feeling disorganized, he's feeling disheveled. And you know that I try to create this common zen for my photographer because I want the best photos possible. I'm, like, providing snacks and music for my photographer, and I have all the lights on when he arrives. I set the tone and I think the little things that you can go through each room and really try to look through the eyes. Like, imagine the pictures that are going to be taken of that room. Close the toilet seat. Certain things you're going to want to tuck. Tuck the toilet brush. Anything that a guest doesn't want to think about when they're booking. Like, tuck it, put some extra plants out, maybe don't go over the top. Don't try to build, like, a crazy cheese board in the kitchen. That's weird. Especially if they're not going to have that cheese board when they check in.


Tracie Fowler

I have friends that have the complete opposite perspective on this, and they do a ton of staging and the photos look really nice. But I think it's creating this expectation and then you're doing damage control when they have this expectation of things and they're not there and you're like, no, we don't offer that. Well, then why is it in the picture? I agree with you. You and I are aligned on this, but I definitely see people that still.


Jacquie Mosher

Do this, but it's distracting to me. You want the focus to be on the space. And I feel like when you're putting things like wine and cheese, you're taking the focus off of your space. And if you're going to do any photo shoot prepping, it should be things that are going to help you imagine yourself enjoying the space. Like setting the table, for example. You don't want to go crazy and be adding cheese boards because then you're not looking at the kitchen or wherever the cheese board is. You're looking at the cheese board, literally. I had a rental once that had a cheese board picture up, and I'd constantly get messages that were like, hey, I'm allergic to nuts. Don't worry, there won't be any nuts.


Tracie Fowler

In the space when you arrive.


Jacquie Mosher

I had a client that I didn't really see eye to eye on, and they're like, one of the rules we have is no drinking or eating in the hot tub for our hot tub rules.


Tracie Fowler

Good luck.


Jacquie Mosher

Yeah. And I get that there's a huge concern about broken glass getting in the hot tub. Yeah.


Tracie Fowler

With the pool house, I don't even have glass. It's all like this, I don't know, weird plastic cups, whatever.


Jacquie Mosher

And the photos she has on her listing before I ever came in, there were of two wine glasses sitting on the edge of the hot tub.


Tracie Fowler

There's a property here in town that's like that, too. That's their lead photo.


Jacquie Mosher

But she has, in her house rules, no glass in the hot tub. So it's just those little things that you really want to think through, but keep the focus on the space, keep things clean, tuck the things guests aren't going to want to see. Fluff your curtains. Throw some. Throw blankets and throw pillows and some plants around in an attractive manner, and put effort into your photo shoot.


Tracie Fowler

Get your fire going. Get your tv on the menu screen. I definitely underestimated how much time, and I would say, give yourself, like, whatever you think you're going to be ready for photography. Give yourself another day or two. The last one, I didn't sleep the night before because there was no time. I had so much left to do to be ready for photography. And this isn't guest ready. This is photography ready. There were still other things that had to be done for guests. So the photographer gets there, and I'm literally still installing curtains and steaming them to get all the wrinkles out so it looks right. And so I was distracted because I was still finishing up, and there's one room in particular that the curtains are just all wonky in the kids room office. Those were the original.


Tracie Fowler

I didn't put new curtains up. They didn't need to be steamed, so I wasn't focused on them. It wasn't until I saw the photos come back from him that I was like, oh, what now? I don't think a guest is not going to book my house for the weird looking. I mean, they're just askew. They're not balanced. It's just not the pretty picture you want to present. I mean, I spent way more than a couple of $100 on my photos, by the way. But it's a large house and a lot of outdoor spaces and whatever and drone and all that stuff. Dusk photos. But that one photo drives me crazy. I hate it. But I'm not going to pay the photographer to come back out there and reshoot that one room because I missed the mark, because I was under the gun.


Tracie Fowler

I was overwhelmed, I was distracted, and I wasn't staying ahead of him in the rooms, which I think is one of the things that you do a really good job of. Like you were talking about creating this whole Zen experience, and we've talked about this before with Kevin, where you have everything ready for him when he shows up. And I was just not there. I just underestimated how much time it was going to take to get every single room the way I wanted it. The one other thing that I find really helpful, and I think you do this too, is when I've got it all set up to use my phone and take a photo and look at it in the phone. Because if I had done that, I would have caught the curtains immediately.


Jacquie Mosher

Yeah. And I think I have a little bit of a process for photo shoots that works really well when I feel like the space is pretty much complete. We look at the ten day forecast. We pick a day next, following week, not too soon, the following week on the forecast. The ten day forecast that has really great sunlight during the times, the space is best lit. And we book a day with our photographer, Kevin. And then we have the handyman in first to finish all the last minute stuff. We have the deep clean the following day. And I supervise the deep clean personally. I love to give them a to do list. I love to walk in rooms after them.


Jacquie Mosher

Maybe if it's a big house or a dirtier than usual house, I'll have one cleaner go through the room, and then I'll have a second cleaner go through the room. And then I go through the room last because one cleaner will hit things the other cleaner didn't. And then after deep clean day, I give myself a half day to go through the space and photo prep. I give myself two photo prepping sessions. I give myself that half day, and most of it happens during that time. And maybe I'm like, I need a green plant. I'm going to need these items. And then I come in the following day, a few hours before the photo shoot, and I bring those things and I'll add those things to the space.


Jacquie Mosher

But also then I walk through the rooms one more time and I catch those things that maybe I didn't catch the day before. I look at each room one final time. I think taking pictures of the room is a great way to do it, to really see how things know, showing up on camera. And that's when I turn all the lights on. I turn some Zen music on for Kevin. I just kind of go through and do those final touches. And any perfectionist knows it's really great to give yourself the opportunity to come in after you haven't been looking at something for a while and look at it one more final time to do that fine tuning.


Jacquie Mosher

And I think that's always important for photo shoots because sometimes I come in and the lighting is completely different from when I did photo shoot prep, and all of a sudden I notice the dust on that thing that I didn't notice before, or maybe the lights hitting the window in a way. And I'm like, holy moly, I need to clean that window right now.


Tracie Fowler

And that's one thing I was going to say as well, is that you don't realize how much it affects light coming into your windows until you clean them inside and outside. And the other thing is your light fixtures, your bulbs and the glass will both collect dust, and you can literally just do those things. You can go into a space that feels really dark, clean both sides of the windows and the fixtures, and it will feel significantly brighter without changing anything else. So don't overlook those items when you're doing your cleaning and prep, for sure.


Jacquie Mosher

And put all that energy into that photo shoot, because those photos are going to make you lots of money for the next couple of years, at least until you update and refresh your space. A few years down the road, those pictures are going to be selling your.


Tracie Fowler

Space, unless it's a month later, like me, because you're driving yourself crazy about a bedroom that you can't just let go.


Jacquie Mosher

Let it go. Looks amazing, Tracie, let it go.


Tracie Fowler

You guys have been very kind. So I'm privy to a number of conversations that are unfiltered. And so I know that there's what you say to someone professionally and when you know they need a pat on the back and there's what you really think. And I always wonder which one I'm getting. Not necessarily just from you, but this whole project, honestly, it's like, okay, so am I getting the friendly pat on the back or is it really great? I honestly don't know, and I'm not asking for answer. This is one of the things that goes through my brain when I'm looking at what I see as missed opportunities. Like oh, the curtains in that room I missed.


Tracie Fowler

Or I really wish I had gotten the photographer to come about 2ft this way for this shot that he took because it would capture the whole pool deck in one shot instead of these two cuts that I have to use. Just different things like that. Well, and for you, anybody listening? Jacquie knows that I have had multiple photo shoots done over the years. So this is not just the new property. This is something that I obsess about more than most, but it's because the photos make such a big difference. I think Kevin did one of the shots, the shoots at townhouse, and he got some really cool vignettes. Like that was one of my favorite things of his. He's really good at that. Anything else from staging prep? I know you loan out plants, which I think is hysterical.


Jacquie Mosher

Yeah, a lot of plants come from my personal house to Airbnbs. I also find a lot of my personal stuff in Airbnbs months after the photo shoot because I forgot to grab them. So I'm trying to loan out less nowadays. But yeah, plants. I always think it's really important to make sure your photographer is getting a shot of all the amenities. And I do really struggle with photographers when I use a photographer for the first time, like out of state, I struggle with them to get good shots of outdoor spaces. Make sure your yard work is done ahead of time and go through and make sure all your amenities are on like your tv, your app screen, your fire pit, turn that on or load it up with fire.


Tracie Fowler

All the fire.


Jacquie Mosher

Make sure the COVID is off your barbecue and your barbecue is looking very clean and shiny.


Tracie Fowler

Maybe even stage it open depending on the shot.


Jacquie Mosher

I open my hot tubs. I make sure my hot tubs are very clean ahead of time and I open them and I like to turn on any fun lights, especially if it's in the evening. I'll put a fun color on the hot tub and make it a pretty color. I have some gorgeous twilight hot tub photos. Just kind of making sure that your photographer is capturing the major amenities that's going to sell your space because those are going to have the biggest effect on your nightly rates. Increasing your nightly rates. When people are booking, they're going to want to pay more when they know that they can watch Netflix after soaking in the hot tub at your rental. So make sure those things are pictured well. But besides that, yeah, photo shoots, they're important. Make sure you put all the energy into them.


Jacquie Mosher

And it's always the hardest thing to do because you just set up a whole rental. You furnished it, you decorated it, you stocked it, I painted it, you painted it, you did renovations, you did whatever it is, you are exhausted at this point, and you just want to get that thing listed now. You have to dig deep and pretend you're not in pain.


Tracie Fowler

I could barely walk that day. I could barely walk. It was awful.


Jacquie Mosher

Or hire a property manager like me.


Tracie Fowler

Normally, you know, that would be the case. But that one I can't like. Mortgage requirement. I have to self manage. So that's why I'm doing this, folks. And it was painful, literally and figuratively.


Jacquie Mosher

Yeah, I know. It's like one of the hardest things to do because it's like that last step when you are exhausted over all the things you just went through. But push forward it is. The most important step is getting those photos that are going to sell your space well. And I know how that feels personally.


Tracie Fowler

Can't overstate this, honestly. Getting great photos every time we see someone say, my property is underperforming, it's like poster listing, schedule photos. Right now, I don't care what it looks like. All right, so pro photos, one of the things that can be a challenge is trying to figure out the timing of when to launch your listing. And photos is typically one of the things that affects know, because you're like, do I list now? I don't have pro photography scheduled for another week, but I can get some test shots. Now, Jacquie and I may not agree on this, so we're about to find out, but I will do test shots because I'm pretty good at it. I'm pretty good with my phone, and I'm still telling you need pro photos.


Tracie Fowler

But when you have this gap that you need to bridge with the timing, where you want to get your listing up and you don't have your pro photos yet, I think you can do some limited test shots, but that doesn't mean everyone can do it. There are lots of people that don't know how to get a good shot on a phone. So this is not a blanket statement.


Jacquie Mosher

This is terrible advice. All right, I'll tell you why. I'll break this down. Tracie, your photos are above average. Amazing. People might not realize that those aren't professional photos. You do such a good job.


Tracie Fowler

Thanks. Well, I'll take that backhanded compliment. I give terrible advice because my photos are great.


Jacquie Mosher

The number of clients I have who think that their phone camera photos are amazing and they're actually not too many.


Tracie Fowler

I think that's the norm, right? I mean, truly, I think that's probably the norm. I mean, maybe we do another session on how to get some test shots. The client I was harassing a minute ago in the recording, I know that profotos are on the docket and it's a local property here. So I'm actually going to go over and help train their boots on the ground person for staging for a pro shoot. And that's the whole thing, like trying to even walk someone through how to get shots. I know Heba's been doing that with a beach property recently and it's like, okay, let's see what we got right now. We're going to do this and this. So I mean, it's this very engaged process to even try to dictate to someone to understand how to get those shots.


Jacquie Mosher

Let's talk about this. What's the risk of you taking your own photos and putting on the listing? And I'll tell you what the risk is. You know that I am super sensitive to working the algorithm of the platform you're on. And I know for a fact that those 1st 30 days that your listing is live, Airbnb is watching what interaction you're getting, what clicks you're getting, and they're going to use that information to determine where you're going to land in the feed. Once you have your first few reviews on the books, and I have seen listings not get kicked off the way that we hope.


Jacquie Mosher

And I've watched them struggle for the first few months and get lower rates than they should, and we're cutting rates and just trying to get people in there and get reviews in the book so it can climb up the feed to recover. And I think it's just too important that when you list on Airbnb or another platform to make sure that your listing is immediately getting clicks and the interaction it deserves so that it's getting the nightly rates that you deserve, it is a big risk to take your own photos and to put them on your listing, in my opinion.


Tracie Fowler

I agree.


Jacquie Mosher

Unless you're fully confident that your photos are going to be almost as marketable as the professionals, you should not be doing it fair.


Tracie Fowler

And I agree with that. Definitely a big caveat to my comment, but I like taking test shots.


Jacquie Mosher

I actually been very impressed with yours. But I don't say that very often to people who take their own photos.


Tracie Fowler

No, I know we definitely see more that should not be posted than we see that should. So I tell you what, if you're out there, you're going to take some test shots, send them my way. I'll tell you what I think and just be prepared.


Jacquie Mosher

Oh my.


Tracie Fowler

Well, thank you for tuning in to our mini series on the mistakes to avoid with your new listing on Airbnb. Catch you soon.


Jacquie Mosher

If you enjoyed this episode, we'd be so grateful if you rated and reviewed it. Also, subscribe for more Insider knowledge. We can help you get the edge in the STR world. You can find additional resources for your STR journey as well as our social media handles at


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