Airbnb Photo Tips: 5 For Higher Occupancy

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Introduction: Airbnb Photo Tips

Photos are as important to Airbnb listings as marshmallows and chocolates are to graham crackers—without that gooey, attractive, melty filling, who will want to take a bite?


If you want to influence Future Potential Guests (FPGs) to book your listing, photos will be the most important first impression you can establish. Said differently: They’re very, very important!


Below, I’ve assembled a list of the top five tips for having successful photos to represent your beautiful Airbnb listing.


[bctt tweet=”Photos are as important to Airbnb listings as marshmallows and chocolates are to graham crackers.”]


Professional, Residential Photography

Even before your Airbnb listing is live, the first thing you should do is sign up for professional photography from Airbnb. You can do this as soon as you start creating your listing and identify how many rooms are in your home.


Alternatively, you can hire Google curated photographers worldwide. I’m writing from Chiang Mai, Thailand and my search brings up over 10 photographers. You must ensure they have experience with photographing the interiors of residential property.


You need professional photos prior to any FPG seeing your listing. As a new host, you get an automatic boost in rankings for the first few weeks, depending on the time of year, after you put your listing up!


However, if you get a lot of views and no reservations, Airbnb deems your listing as low quality, and your listing goes to the bottom of the search results. Spend some time in my blog to find treasures like how to master your Airbnb text by adding a call-to-action to increase your booking conversion rate.


Did you know that Airbnb listings with professional photos get booked at a rate 2.5x greater than listings without professional photos?


[bctt tweet=”Airbnb listings with professional photos get booked 2.5x more.” username=”OptimizeMyBnb”]


Keep in mind, not all photographers are created equal. This is especially important when it comes to Airbnb photographers; it is a one-time service with no revisions, so you will need to capitalize on your one opportunity at professional, photos.


Probably 90% of my own encounters have been with wonderful, creative, and experienced photographers, occasionally you will find (as I have) that there are some who don’t get it.


Pro Airbnb Photo Tips: Ask to see the photos during the shoot; it is better to find out late than never if you will be unhappy!


Twenty pictures emphasizing your ceiling over your appliances, furniture, and ambiance of your home will not leave a good impression, and you will end up having to hire a new photographer out-of-pocket to try again.


Another common error by Airbnb photographers are their emphasis on light fixtures, artwork, table centerpieces, and other non-essential details. As the host, you must understand that you’re not setting up an art exhibit. You are creating a marketing campaign.


Note that when new photos are uploaded to your listing by Airbnb, the old photos will still remain. You will need to delete the old photos and rearrange the new photos as I will discuss below.


Your Listing Is Judged By The Airbnb Cover Photo

Now that you understand the importance of photos to your listing, can you guess which photo is the most important?


You guessed it! The first, or cover, photo is your invaluable first impression. This photo should be of a room that the guest is likely to spend a lot of their time in, or one that best represents the spirit of your home.


Do you have an amazing living space or a luxurious bathroom? Does your futuristic kitchen scream, “Let’s have a dinner party”? Avoid photos that encourage suspicions, such as nondescript views from a balcony or dimly lit backyards, and put your best foot (photo!) forward; get your FPG excited to see what your listing has to offer!


Before a guest clicks on any listing, they will have seen at least a few other cover photos. Make it a great one!


Pro Airbnb photo tips: Go on Airbnb as if you are an FPG and do a few varied searches to find out what cover photos your competition is using. Are there any consistent colors? Themes? Rooms? Let me show you what I mean…Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 2.52.59 PM


Clearly, there are more than a few backyard pools in Seminyak, Bali. This means having a pool is NOT a unique selling point, so consider how to make your cover photo stand out! Hot tub, anyone?


First (Four) Impressions Matter

Now that you have chosen an extraordinary cover photo, pay extra special attention to your main four photos! These are your best photos, one of each room, shown to your guest to get them excited about booking your place.


The FPG will decide within the first 5-7 seconds to either eliminate your listing or keep it in the running, based on the cover and your first four photos. There are 7,000,000 listings on Airbnb, and guests will look for any reason to narrow their choices.


[bctt tweet=”There are over 7,000,000 Airbnb listings. You have 4 photos to capture a guest’s interest.”]


Below is a listing I optimized. Of these two sets of photos, which grabs your attention more as it relates to the first four photos you see?



Or, option 2?


Add A Floor Plan Of Your Airbnb Listing

Airbnb photo caption - floor plan

Looking for that extra edge? This is it. Not only does this set you apart from your competition, but it also sets expectations phenomenally well.


A lot of your Airbnb reviews come down to properly setting your guest’s expectations. Providing the FPG a custom-drawn and to-scale floor plan of your Airbnb listing does exactly that. After looking at this photo, your FPG knows exactly what they’re getting. In their minds, they’re already walking through this space (see next section)!.


Click here to buy a custom hand-drawn floor plan for your Airbnb.


The Power of Captions

About half of your pictures should have a caption, which will accomplish two goals.


One, explain to the guest where they are within the home, and create a physical sense of space.


Similar to our “Batch ‘Em” principle, always assume that an FPG does not know what they are looking at, no matter how obvious it may be to you. Tell your guest about the spacious private bathroom attached to the master bedroom, or the French sliding doors that lead to your backyard garden! Label bedrooms and bathrooms to provide clarity!

airbnb photo tips - how to write your Airbnb photo caption

Two, place the guest, psychologically, in each photo, and thus in your home.


This is a twist on one of Robert Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion, commitment and consistency. Humans want to be consistent with their behavior, so if you place the guest psychologically in your home, their brain will start to think that they are already in your home! It is a small mind trick, and the reason many actors take on the personas of their on-screen characters in real life.


For example, imagine a photo of your backyard with a pool and lounge chairs, captioned, “Imagine yourself relaxing on the lounge chair, wine glass half full, surrounded by family and the smell of BBQ on the grill!”

airbnb photo tips - airbnb photo captions


[bctt tweet=”Place your guest, psychologically, in each of your Airbnb photos via the caption.”]


Keep in mind that the FPG will be looking at many listings with different layouts, and they have never been to your home before. Even though you may look at your amazing new photos and clearly picture your home, an FPG may get confused by similar rooms or different angles.


Don’t believe me? Take a look at the photos below.

Bedroom 4Bedroom 2
Bedroom 3Bedroom 1


These photos came to me from a host seeking help optimizing his listing. Would you believe me if I told you these are four different bedrooms? This host originally had 79 photos in random order, making it very difficult for the guest to know what they were looking at.


In the end, this host was left with 34 orderly, batched photos, where the guest could easily know what they were looking at! In this case, I even added captions to his Airbnb photos for further clarification as the rooms looked so similar.


Take your prospective guest on an organized, guided tour of your home by placing photos of the same room or space next to each other.


Airbnb photo tip: More than 30 photos is overkill for 90%+ of Airbnb listings. Stick to around 25 photos maximum! If you have a one-story home with few separate rooms, consider 10-15 photos. Less is more!



Conclusion: Airbnb Photo Tips, Great Photos = More Bookings


If there’s one thing to focus on with your Airbnb listing, it definitely is your photos. If money is restricted, focus it on photos. If time is restricted, focus what you have on the photos.


[bctt tweet=”Airbnb Photo Tip: Great Photos = More Bookings”]


Optimizing your photos with professional photography, a great cover photo, batched photos, first impression photos, and fun captions is a great first step in attracting more FPG to click and book your listing.


What Airbnb photo tips have worked for you and your listing?

About Danny Rusteen

Starting in 2012, Danny has been an Airbnb employee, Superhost, and Airbnb property manager. Danny lives in Airbnbs (2,000 nights). As a guest, Danny has traveled to 36 countries and sifted through thousands of Airbnb listings, so he knows what makes a listing stand out and how to offer a world-class experience to your guest. Follow his journey.


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