FRIDAY FRUMP: Rental property owners, FIX YOUR PHOTOS!

A shout out to all of you who list your property on AirBNB, HomeAway, and other sites. First, thanks for making your property available, and thanks for helping to make traveling a more affordable, more authentic people-to-people experience.

Now, can I just vent for a second?

I’ve been doing some research in anticipation of an extended stay in Europe and, while I see a lot of what appear to be great properties, it’s sometimes hard to tell. And that’s the crux of my complaint.

When you take pictures of the place you’re planning to rent, the most important thing potential renters want to see is where we’ll be living, eating, sleeping and bathing.

Show us pictures of the place: the living area, the kitchen, the sleeping area, the bathroom. One or two photos of each is fine; I don’t need to see six photos of the sofa upon which we’ll be sitting. (Yes, that's exactly what one site showed!) Take six if you want, but pick the best one or two.

If those photos can provide some sense of where one area is in relation to the other, that would be helpful, too. In other words if the sofa, dining table and kitchen are all in the same room, try to photograph it in a way that shows that arrangement.

If possible, use a real camera. At the very least, shoot the photos in “landscape” orientation. Cell phone pictures in the “letter” orientation make things look terribly narrow. Yes, I know they are narrow in many countries, but such photos make things look worse than they really are.

Also, bear in mind that people from different countries call things by different names. What we in the U.S. call a studio you may simply call “an apartment.” If you could include a sketch of a floor plan, that would be helpful. You don’t have to hire (or be) an architect; a floor plan like this one, or even a simple sketch along the same lines, would speak volumes.

The next most important area is the grounds. Does the property have a garden or courtyard? Is it canal-side in Amsterdam? Is it steps from the Kurf├╝rstendamm? Photos of those are fine, too; they provide context. But if your property is in Paris, for example, don’t show me the Eiffel Tower unless I’ll actually be able to see it from the unit or the grounds.

Photo by Carl Dombek

What not to show

It's great that you have a great creative side, but please save the “art for art’s sake” photos for another venue. Sure, you can take artistic shots that showcase your property well, but posting a gauzy shot of a centerpiece on the table or a close-up of the sign over the stove that says, “Good coffee = Good morning!” isn’t helpful. Neither is a close-up of the bag of coffee that will be waiting in the kitchen. It’s very nice that you provide coffee for your guests, but I’m not likely to decide where to stay based on the brand of the brew.

Finally, don’t show me a close-up of your cat Fluffy unless Fluffy comes with the unit. In fact, if that’s the case, state that up front. I love dogs and enjoy dog-sitting from time to time, but I’m looking at your place as a potential vacation/holiday getaway, not a part-time job.

Thanks for reading. Maybe our paths will cross some day.

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