Thoughts, stories and tips from Team Perfocal.

Unsurprisingly this pandemic has sparked a surge in holiday home bookings in the UK. We're knees deep in yet another lockdown, 'Boris announcement' is the 10th highest search term on Google today and we are all day-dreaming of 'going on a summer holiday'. With the UK ahead in vaccine administration and comparative uncertainties around international travel, people are looking for the perfect British staycation to replace their family's annual trip to the Algarve. So what does this mean for holiday home owners? It's time to brace yourselves for a big season and to prepare your holiday home listings for the crowds.

Property Photography to Boost Holiday Home Bookings

When any holidaymaker is looking for the perfect holiday home, the first thing they'll be looking at is your gallery...  So, whether you own a quaint holiday cottage, a self-catered apartment, a countryside villa or a beach hut, it's essential that you present clear, high-resolution and eye-catching photos online.

Now, the holiday home market in the UK is saturated, and many holiday lets are hoping to make up for their 2020 losses, so you can expect to see big marketing spends across the industry... Meaning? Your imagery needs to stand out from the crowd, attracting customers and convincing guests to book in with you, instead of your local and national competitors.

Countryside Holiday Home Owner - Image by Perfocal

Rental Tonic suggests that only 5 seconds are required for a property photo to impress a potential client. So, let's make the most of the short time you've got and lock them in, fast! Obviously travelling isn't a 'try before you buy' kind of purchase, so as the holiday home owner, it's your responsibility to ensure your photos and videos accurately represent your property and clearly communicate it's value to clients. Simply put, you need to justify the price tag!

When to Photograph your Holiday Home

There's no time like the present! Chances are, your property is empty right now and you're just passing the time until peak season. Which means you have the time and space to plan and prepare for the perfect property photoshoot.

So no, don't wait until you have a long list of guests to entertain, or until your bedrooms are all booked out... Make the most of your empty holiday home and style it exactly how you want for the photoshoot, with no distractions.

Besides, it'll give you something fun to do and will make a nice change from 'yet another Groundhog Day'!

Steps to Improve your Holiday Let Bookings

1.  Review your Current Imagery

Remember when we said it takes 5 seconds for an impression to form? It's based on your imagery. It gives potential visitors a clear picture of what to expect when they arrive, and getting this in order is the first step to increase holiday bookings. You shouldn't get your photos done once and assume you're good to go for the next decade. They'll probably need a reboot as times change. But, before purging your entire gallery, assume you are the guest trying to find a holiday home. Ask yourself some crucial questions such as:

  1. Is the uniqueness of the property highlighted?
  2. Do the pictures represent the actual feel of the property?
  3. Can I find everything I need to make my stay more comfortable?

If the images that answer these questions don't jump out instantly (remember, you've got 5 seconds!), you should consider refreshing or adding to your gallery.

2. Look to Other Owners for Inspiration

There's no shortcut to success, but you can shortcut your learnings. Instead of testing Facebook adverts and blowing through cash before you realise best practices, just look to other successful businesses. What are other holiday home owners and entrepreneurs doing to make their holiday business successful? It is essential to review how they do their marketing, if any, to know how to make attractive advertisements for holiday lets.

A quick and easy way to do this is on Facebook's ad library. Literally every single advert that is currently live on Facebook can be found here. All you need to do is search for your competitors or other holiday lets, find adverts you like and that seem to be performing well, and... I don't want to say copy them, but use them to find inspiration. Or copy them. A quick tip is that the longer adverts have been running, the better. Companies won't keep up an underperforming advert, so it's likely they're getting good returns from it. You can also visit any company's Facebook page, click "Page Transparency" on the left-side of the page, and find everything there.

Another thing you can do to get "inspiration", is check what other property owners display on their pages. Try and see what they're doing to increase occupancy levels. Look not only at the kind of and quality of images, but also how frequently they update their gallery. Most companies display their photos together with the dates, so it easier to identify when they uploaded the images. Following these steps will get you on the right track to promote your holiday home and boost your holiday let bookings.

3. Book a Qualified Photographer

No matter how good you think your eye is, or your phone camera is - nothing's going to cut it like a professional photographer. Just imagine going to a wedding and the photographer cancelling last minute. Would you ask one of the guests to take photos on their phone? No. Why not? Because you know that a professional photographer, with all the gear, will actually have an idea.

Now even professional photographers have limits - someone that is great with producing product imagery isn't necessarily great with producing property and space imagery. So, it's vital to work with a qualified photographer, in your industry, to capture quality images of your property.

Here are several things to consider when choosing a qualified photographer:

a) Experience and Portfolio

You can gauge a photographers skills simply by looking at their portfolio and assessing their track-record. It can help you clearly understand the type of expert you'll be working with, and if their style is in-line with what you've got in mind.

b) Creative and Innovative

The best photographers will find innovative ways to capture the visitor's attention and increase the odds that they will book your holiday let for their next vacation.  
Creative photographers with deep experience will also be able to advise you on what to put in a holiday let, and the types of photos that tend to increase sales. They've done this before, and are often all too happy to share some tips.

c) Fair Pricing

If you've ever bought anything in your entire life, you've heard the phrase "you pay for what you get". Don't simply go for the cheapest option you can find, since it can compromise the quality of your shoot. Likewise, you don't want to go for the most expensive options or ones that come with restrictions, like "max. 8 photos per hour". The keyword here is fair pricing. Fair for you, and fair for the photographer.

Always compare the quality of the images along with the price quotation. Ask for quotes from different experts and compare the charges. Several photography companies can help you take good photos of your investment. The Perfocal property page is a good example of what you'll be looking for. Prices, examples, benefits, and real customer testimonials.

4. Create a Requirement List Before the Shoot

Your gallery is limited real estate. You don't want to overwhelm a visitor with 100s of photos, but you don't want to leave things out either. Be prepared with a list of essential areas to capture, and make sure these are captured before experimenting.

You'll likely want to ensure you capture additional property features, such as furniture, electronics, and other items that will help guests enjoy their stay at your property. Here are some ideas:
•   The balcony view
•   Swimming pool
•   Parking space
•   Landscape/garden and architectural designs
•   Hot tubs

The purpose of these images is to:
•   Display the ambiance of the property
•   Take travellers on a virtual journey
•   Promote history and culture of the property
•   Reflect the experience of what the tourist can expect during their stay

And don't forget to show how the property looks from the outside! This can be just as important as the room itself.

5. Prepare your Property

Preparing your property for a photo session is essential to bring out the best and get a great gallery. Below are some of the top tips to follow to ensure photos improve the rate of bookings on the property.

i) Declutter the room

Common advice, but worth saying and reiterating its importance. Remove unimportant items. Get rid of things such as fire extinguishers, safety signs, property leaflets, and bins. They serve as distractions in the photo, even though they're essential for general purposes.

ii) Hide cables and wires

Try and hide electric cables running all over the walls. You can unplug them or hide them behind the furniture. Good old classic masking tape is fine too, if done well.

iii) Tidy the room

Again, this seems obvious, but it's a reminder to get the small details right. Some of the main areas to clean include window blinds, beddings, seats, curtains and bookshelves. Dust them off. Iron the bedsheets. Remove any creases and ensure that you have well-tucked beds.

iv) Lighting matters

Ensure that the rooms have sufficient lighting before taking photos of the property. Natural lighting provides a more natural feeling, while the photographer can provide artificial light for more sparkling images.

v) Get variation in your photos

Ask for images from different angles to give varying views. In the morning and evenings, switch on interior lights when taking photos to create striking imagery and give a sense of warmth or space. Leave these for the end of your gallery; these images are better at closing deals rather than sparking initial interest.

vi)  Prepare the outdoors

Ensure that the holiday home's exterior is well presented. Prune the flowers and trim any long grass within the backyard. Arrange the exterior furniture to increase the beauty of the outer space. Ensure that the external lighting is working if you intend to take pictures at night.

vii) Decorate your rooms appropriately

Decorate the rooms keeping in mind the expectations of your target clients. If your frequent visitors are newly married couples, design the room to look more romantic. If you mostly target families with kids, make the rooms appealing for both children and adults. Provide playing areas for kids and take photos of toys and other pieces of equipment that kids love. Just make sure it doesn't come across as clutter!

x) Take the shots

Finally, let the photographer do their job - you want to strike a great balance with quantity and quality. After finishing the session, sit down and review the photos; it's best to be a harsh critic and realise that some of the images have to go. Send them to friends and family to select their top 5. This will give you a good idea of which images to put front-and-centre in your gallery. By now, you're well on your way to increasing your holiday let bookings!

How to Book Holiday Home Photography

Social media has become the number one marketing platform for every industry, and travel is no exception. Social media is hyper-focused on imagery, and owners of holiday cottages, homes and apartments need to invest in this form of advertising.

You're sold on the idea but don't know where to start with finding a photographer?  It's crucial to find a well-qualified expert for your property shoot and you've already got a lot to deal with - getting your property and rooms ready, and managing your bookings. For a turnkey solution where the photography and editing is taken care of, reach out to Perfocal - we make the photography process easy for you and guarantee a great experience with high-quality, usable photography at the end of it.