How to Prep an Airbnb for Photography

As an Airbnb host, great photos are crucial. They are your digital first impression. Guests rely heavily on the photos to make their booking decisions, and may never even click into your listing if the thumbnail photo isn't enticing. So it's important to get this part of your Airbnb listing right! If you want your Airbnb photos to stand out (in a good way), here's what we recommend.


1. DECIDE ON YOUR HERO SHOT


With real estate photography, the first photo will almost always be the front of the house. With Airbnbs, that's not the case. You want to lead with the most desirable and attention-grabbing feature of your Airbnb - whether it's a backyard with a pool, a fire pit by the lake, a hot tub with a view, a gorgeous chef's kitchen, or a living room with amazing style. Make sure to take extra care in making sure this part of the house is perfect - get the pool cleaned, sweep/leaf blow the patio, get the windows washed, etc.


2. MAKE A LIST OF WHICH DETAILS TO HIGHLIGHT


Airbnb allows up to 100 photos, but you'd probably lose people's attention if you really maxed that out. We have two Airbnb photo packages - 30 photos (just right for smaller/average size Airbnbs) and 50 photos (perfect for larger Airbnbs). Both packages include detail shots, which allow us to highlight the details that guests care about, like nice toiletries, the espresso machine, your collection of games & puzzles, or the hot tub (make sure to uncover it and turn the jets on). Make a list of which details you'd like us to capture, so we don't miss any of them.


3. CONSIDER ADDING OTHER SERVICES


Professional photos are definitely a must if you want your Airbnb to attract the most bookings. But beyond that, we can also capture drone photos, video, a 2D floor plan, twilight photos, and more. These extras can help guests get a better sense of your place and give them the confidence to book it. In particular, drone photos are a great idea if your Airbnb is near a lake, in the mountains, or close to other tourist attractions. And a floor plan will give guests a crystal clear idea of the house's layout and where the bedrooms and bathrooms are located (very helpful information for families or larger groups).


4. CLEAN & PREP AS YOU WOULD FOR A GUEST


Now, it's time to prep the house for your photo shoot! For real estate photos, we typically recommend that homeowners clear off their counters, declutter, and hide away toiletries. Not so with Airbnbs. Guests want to see what you provide, so we recommend prepping the house exactly as you would for guests. Get it sparkling clean, but don't clear off the counters. Leave out the coffee maker, knives, toaster, and olive oil. Set out the hand soap, shampoo & conditioner. Put a welcome message on your chalkboard, and place a bottle of wine and a basket of snacks on the dining table (if that's something you do). Just remember - your Airbnb photos set the expectation for future guests, so don't make a promise you don't intend to keep.


5. CREATE SOME LIFESTYLE "MOMENTS"


If you want to go above and beyond, stage some little "moments" that create a feeling of relaxation. Things like placing a book and a mug of coffee next to the bathtub, starting a fire in the fire pit, or setting a couple glasses of wine between the chairs on the deck. Keep your styling seasonally neutral so it will appeal at any time of year (unless, of course, your Airbnb is only available in the winter - then by all means, lean into that with cozy, festive decor).


6. HIGHLIGHT PRACTICAL INFORMATION THAT MAY BE IMPORTANT FOR GUESTS


Besides capturing all the beautiful details that make your Airbnb special, it's also important to capture the practical information that can be helpful for guests to know ahead of time. This includes positives, like on-site parking, a ramp for accessible entry, a keypad on the front door, and any sports equipment or outdoor gear that guests can use. It also includes any potential negatives, such as a steep spiral staircase, an unfenced pool, or anything that could be a hazard for kids. It's better to be clear and upfront about all the safety/logistical stuff, so the right guests can find your place and others can find a better fit for them.


7. DECIDE IF YOU WANT ANY NEIGHBORHOOD/COMMUNITY SHOTS


The last thing we often get questions about with Airbnb photography is whether we can include shots of the nearby parks, beach access, neighborhood restaurants, or community amenities. Generally, our rule of thumb is that if it's on-site (like a rooftop terrace or a park right across the street), we're happy to get those extra photos free of charge. If it would require us to drive to a different location, walk down a long path, or generally spend more than 5-10 extra minutes, we can get those community photos for an extra $50.


We hope this guide is helpful!


Airbnb hosts in Spokane and North Idaho: whether your putting the finishing touches on a new Airbnb, or have an existing Airbnb with old photos that aren't doing it justice, we would love to capture your place for you! You can book us here or send us an email at insidespokanephotography@gmail.com.