While browsing vacation rentals on Vrbo, Booking.com, Airbnb, and other vacation rental listing sites, travelers click on certain properties for the same reason they skip past others: visual content.
Visual content builds trust. Research shows that within a 30-day shopping window, vacation rental shoppers flip through an average of more than 400 photos while browsing online. In fact, roughly 85% of travelers report photos as being helpful, and more than 25% believe photos are the most important factor when deciding what vacation rental they want to book.
Fortunately for vacation rental property managers, there are plenty of ways to make vacation rentals stand out with great visual content. It starts with exceptional photos, but some online travel sites support other outlets like videos and virtual tours.
All of the content in a listing is meaningful, including listing headlines, amenities, and property descriptions. When travelers want answers to their questions, though, they rely largely on visuals: they search for images of bedrooms, living areas, and kitchens, and they draw conclusions based on what they see.
A listing’s visual content has to strike a balance between showing travelers what they need to see, but at the same time, painting a broader picture. If a property is in Breckenridge, what does it look like with snow on the ground? If it’s a ranch in Providence, what does it look like draped in fall colors? As a property manager, be sure to ask yourself what you would want to know about a property, and utilize visual content to set a well-rounded scene.
A carefully curated set of photos is the most critical piece of visual content on any listing. The “Hero” image, also known as the “Thumbnail” image, is especially impactful: it’s an invitation for travelers to either click on your property—or breeze right past it for something more appealing. Here are a few ways to take advantage of its prominence:
• Showcase what makes your property unique: If a listing’s headline says **Amazing View!!** then the visual content should back that up. The hero image is a good place to do that, since exterior photos can be very engaging. That’s not to say interior photos aren’t worthy of the “hero” platform—an incredible living space could be eye-catching, too.
• Avoid clutter: Clutter has no place in any of your listing’s photos, and that’s doubly true for the hero image. That picture needs to speak for itself, so it shouldn’t require context for someone to understand what they’re seeing. Similarly, refrain from featuring things travelers won’t care much about, such as bathrooms.
• Experiment with different pictures: If you have a few shots that are worthy of “Hero” status on a particular listing, be sure to rotate them. That way, it’ll be easy to determine which ones draw the most traffic and which ones travelers tend to bypass.
All told, a listing should have 20–30 photos. Data shows that nearly 90% of travelers have higher trust in properties with a minimum of 20 photos, and listings with 25+ images earn 40% more page views—and 30% more bookings.
While photos remain the unrivaled captain of Team Visual Content, videos and virtual tours are gaining ground on the online travel sites that support them (such as Vrbo). Like with photos, videos and virtual tours are backed by encouraging data points: travelers who click “Play” on a video generally spend 90 seconds watching that video, which means you get 90 additional seconds to earn their business.
Those numbers jump even higher with virtual tours, which appeal to both highly motivated shoppers and casual browsers. Additional research shows that 9 in 10 travelers are at least interested in virtual tours, proving they are well worth the time and effort to include where available.