how to improve airbnb listing photos

15 Airbnb Photo Tips for Hosts (for More Bookings)

Want the best Airbnb photo tips for hosts in 2021? You’re smart for seeking professional advice for Airbnb photography, because stellar photographs are your greatest assets when it comes to vacation rental marketing.

At ColorMyBnb, we’re all about implementing the highest-impact ways to market your Airbnb listing and create a brand image that makes lasting impressions (and earns clicks).

That’s why we put together these top 15 Airbnb photo tips for hosts. They’ll help short term rental (STR) hosts and managers like you to maximize vacation rental income. 

Top 15 Airbnb Photo Tips for Hosts (for More Bookings)

airbnb photo tips for hosts

1. Make Your Airbnb Listing Photos Professional

Of all the Airbnb photo tips for hosts, adhering to professional quality is the most important.

High-quality photos of a high-quality space is most effective way to boost occupancy rate and income. In fact, Airbnb claims that you can “earn up to 40% more with professional photos.”

“Professional” doesn’t always mean you need to hire a photographer, but it’s highly recommended. If you have an artistic eye, you can likely find the right composition, optimize the lighting and tell a story through your Airbnb images.

Most newer smartphones come with cameras that can help you achieve near-professional quality yourself. If you don’t have access to one, ask to borrow a friend’s.

Professional Airbnb Photography Tips for Hosts

Your Airbnb listing photos should always have great…

  • Resolution (clear & great definition)
  • Lighting (use as much natural light as possible without overexposure)
  • Composition (how you capture items in the frame)
  • Horizontal orientation (not crooked & not vertical)
  • Angle (shoot straight ahead–not upwards or downwards)
good airbnb photo lighting before and after
Good lighting, composition and small tangible changes can work wonders.
Image Source: Airbnb

Airbnb has a photographer network, and they will take 2-3 photos of each room. You need to look to see if they have a verified photographer in your area. Otherwise, you can hire outside of their network. 

You might consider this alternative option to Airbnb’s network, because depending on your rooms and their features, you might want more than three photos per room. And they can take 2-4 weeks to deliver them (post-shoot).

Additionally, if you have Airbnb take your photos, you might not legally be able to use the photos freely outside of Airbnb for other marketing purposes.

2. Make Them Beautiful

airbnb theme idea
Beautifully-designed steampunk Airbnb. Fashionably antiquated vs. outdated.
There’s a big difference. (Image source: Airbnb)

Tips for taking Airbnb photos aren’t any use if your space isn’t beautiful. This means you might need to make some adjustments to your actual interior decor if you want eye-catching photos.

airbnb photo tips for more bookings
While some adjustments could be made to this listing’s photo section, the host did a great job designing an eye-catching aesthetic.
(Image source: Airbnb)

It’s easy to throw an old bedspread and lackluster pillows on the bed to save money, or to keep the outdated paint job, wall art, furniture or trinkets. However, this can work against you.

It can make guests feel like they would be staying at grandma’s house. Or a place that’s been “lived in.” 

what your airbnb photos shouldn't look like
Your grandma’s house circa 1972-2020.

While this might be nice when you’re visiting grandma, it’s not so nice when you’re shelling money out on a vacation to escape your day-to-day.

Perhaps one of the most overlooked tips for Airbnb photos is to theme your interior decor to create attractive photos. Your Airbnb photo section will boost your listing success if your interior decor has a consistent theme or style.

Every room should be well-designed in terms of aesthetic and layout. This way, you increase the chances of making more money by upgrading to decor that is more modern or design-focused.

wallpaper in vacation rental
Wallpaper is an easy way to add visual interest to your Airbnb.

When in doubt, paint the walls white. Maybe even create an accent wall with patterned wallpaper. Freshen things up by tastefully placing low-maintenance green plants in the room, and add some pops of color via wall art and colorful or patterned pillows.

You can never go wrong with this affordable approach. And it won’t require an expensive renovation that you see on some TV shows.

airbnb interior decor tips
While some adjustments could boost this listing, overall it displays an appealing aesthetic. (Image source: Airbnb)

You can always paint outdated furniture, such as night stands and desks, to match the modern standard. A high-contrast look will catch the eye of guests and draw them to click on your listing.

Note: The Eye of the Beholder

Keep in mind that beauty is in the eye of the beholder––so be sure to define your target market and show them what they will find to be beautiful

For mountain lifestyle enthusiasts, a bed set made of tree logs might be beautiful to them. While for traditional business travelers, the clean lines of a modern desk with a nice plant on it might take the cake.

airbnb decor tips

 

3. Evoke Emotion: Showcase an Experience

This Airbnb photo tip for hosts made it into the top 3 due to its power to engage guests.

We’ve all had that feeling. You see a dreamy Airbnb listing photo, and your heart skips a beat. 

vacation rental as an experience
Image source: Airbnb

Whether it’s the scene of a cozy fireplace going while snow falls outside against the trees, or the image of a happy couple enjoying wine & charcuterie on a deck while watching the sun set over the water. 

tips for better airbnb photos

These types of photos hold a special power; they form a deep connection with the viewer that can increase the chances of booking. 

creating an experience with your airbnb
Stage a mini experience and capture it.

Brainstorm the types of scenes you can set in and around your Airbnb to make it inviting. Guests should be able to picture themselves enjoying that experience. 

More than Just the Airbnb

If you take away just one thing from this Airbnb photo tip, show your guests the bigger picture experience––more than just the Airbnb itself.

For instance, does your target guest tend to be an outdoor adventurer? Then you’ll want to include photos of the outdoors, too (e.g. the nearby recreational areas such as hiking trails).

airbnb photography tips

Zoom in on some of your Airbnb’s features that cater to them. For instance, maybe you have a nice little basket of trail maps next to some hiking snacks.

Maybe even take a screenshot on your computer of Google Maps showing how far of a drive or walk it is to the most popular nearby destinations.

creative use of airbnb photo section

4. Convey Neatness

Pay attention to detail when you take photos of your Airbnb listing. For instance, don’t take a photo of a kitchen that still has dishes in the sink or in the drying rack. 

take better airbnb photos
With everything in its place, guests feel like they can breathe.

And while a pet on the bed might seem cute, for some guests this could conjure images of floating pet fur or an allergy attack (unless one of your listing’s draws are that it is pet-friendly/or it is part of the experience). 

Uniformity & Tidiness

  • Fluff and arrange all pillows, and smooth out bedding wrinkles, curtains and tablecloths.
  • Put personal artifacts away and keep them out of a guest’s sight––for good.
  • Keep as your counters as clear as possible––only the essentials.
  • Roll or fold your towels neatly and uniformly.
  • Make sure mugs are all arranged the same way on the shelf. 
  • Good interior design can also help establish a tidy image of your property.
example bad airbnb photo
You can do better!

5. Demonstrate Value

One of the most overlooked yet crucial Airbnb photo tips is to demonstrate the value of your listing

If you have some features that your target guest would like to see (even something like a coffee maker), capture it in a shot! Does your listing have a memory foam bed? Put that in the caption of the photo that shows the bed. 

Read: Airbnb SEO: Tips to Rank Higher to learn how to outperform your competition this way.

coffee maker airbnb
Make your Airbnb stand out amongst the competition.

Do you supply discount passes to a local tour? Perhaps you could include those in one of your images. 

Are you within walking distance of a landmark? This saves your guests money on a Lyft. Call that out.

Note to Traditional Bed-and-Breakfast Hosts

This photo tip for Airbnb hosts is for those who supply breakfast. Skip ahead if that’s not you.

Something that is overlooked for the bed and breakfasts that do include breakfast…(the original “Bnb”)…include a photo of the breakfast

As a traveler, I’m likely to choose the Airbnb that I know will have a substantial and filling breakfast that I like. Sometimes breakfast food details are included in the description, but oftentimes they’re not. 

how to improve airbnb photos

Here’s a snippet from a common conservation I have with my partner while traveling:

– “Should we make breakfast reservations?”

– “Hmm well our Airbnb supposedly has breakfast, but I’m not sure if it’s the kind of breakfast we want on vacation.” 

If it’s a piece of toast with store-bought jam, I’m going for the Airbnb listing that shows a photo of scrambled eggs. 

I never expect an Airbnb to have breakfast. It’s just not the standard anymore. 

When they do and its food worthy of paying those few extra bucks for the place, it’ll get me every time. But knowing that the breakfast is likely built into the nightly rate, I’d like to know exactly what I’m getting––even if just for planning purposes.

6. Be Informative

how to improve airbnb photos
Image source: Airbnb

Airbnb listing photos can also be used to communicate important information potential to guests about important points that are easier to demonstrate in a photo. 

Here are some examples of how to use your photo space to communicate important information that needs the assistance of a visual:

  • A floorplan showing the layout of the space
  • Google Maps screenshot of distance to popular landmarks
  • Screenshot of a WiFi speed test (proof to guests that they can rely on your WiFi) <– nowadays a MUST

7. Remain Accurate

If this Airbnb photo tip is ignored, it can result in a less-than-perfect review. Make sure your photos accurately represent your space at any given time.

Don’t over-process photos or use wide angle lenses that make your space look bigger than it actually is. It can mislead guests.

wide angle photos airbnb
The wide angle lens can mislead guests when it comes to the size of a room.

And while dark photos are a turn-off, avoid the temptation to overly adjust the photo exposure so that it makes the space look like it has more natural lighting or cleanliness than it actually does.

overexposed airbnb photo
Overexposure can also mislead guests.

This brings to mind the time I booked an Airbnb in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The photos looked so bright and everything looked so white and clean. Because of this, it looked ultra-modern and naturally-lit. 

I showed up at the Airbnb and it was a lot darker, with nowhere near the amount of natural light conveyed in the photo. Everything looked fairly outdated, more beige, and definitely not as shiny clean as the photos conveyed.

It was disappointing.

As a guest, I believe in providing private feedback to the host instead of giving a less-than-nice review (unless the situation is really careless). Because I’m a marketer, I’m more attuned to the impact of reviews on a host’s wellbeing. However, not everyone is. So it’s safer to anticipate someone might use a review to vent.

airbnb photo section tips

What’s more, if you capture something in your photos that isn’t there when a guest arrives, this might come as a disappointment. So be sure to remain accurate by maintaining consistency.

For example, did that awesome plant die from your original photo? Replace it with a new (or similar) one, because it’s part of the decor and experience. Or, replace the photo.

Keep seasonality in mind, too. If the outdoors are part of the experience, you can showcase what the view out your window looks like during more than just one season.

tips for airbnb images

8. Include All Important Parts of Your Space

As I was preparing for trip to Southeast Asia with my partner, I became focused on finding a listing that showed a photo of the bathroom door. Why? I noticed some of the Airbnb listings I liked excluded bathroom photos.

So I suspected there wasn’t a bathroom. 

Come to find out when messaging the hosts, it was often because there were curtains used to separate the bathroom from the bedroom. Yes, in place of a door.

Since then, if I don’t see a photo of one of the rooms or an aspect of the room that is important (e.g. a shower) when perusing an Airbnb listing, I wonder if the host is trying to conceal something undesirable.

how to take better airbnb photos
If this is the only photo of the bathroom, I’m not 100% convinced there’s a shower or toilet
within the unit.

Always include photos of each room and the important aspects of each space.

For a bathroom, don’t just assume it’s the shower and toilet. Show the sink area. Some travelers can’t stand not having ample room for their toiletries. I personally don’t want to be struggling with my toiletries falling off the edge of the sink or having to put my toiletry bag on the toilet.

Assume your guests are going to be picky.

It’s better to assume it and show all of your space instead of getting a less-than-perfect review from a frustrated guest.

9. Take All Horizontal Photos (with One Exception)

The Airbnb photo section best accommodates landscape-oriented photos. The optimal photo dimensions are 1024 x 683px. As a guideline, stick to an aspect ratio of 3:2 (width:length).

airbnb photo collage example good
Image source: Airbnb

But there’s one exception. If you have two great vertical photos, you can make them into a rectangle using a photo layout app or tool like Canva.

airbnb photo tip: optimization
Image source: Airbnb

10. Leave a Small Element of Surprise in Your Airbnb Photos

While you should show off most of the nice touches guests will encounter at your Airbnb, surprises are known to delight guests and often make their way into a positive review.

Little surprises can often enthuse a guest to leave a review. 

surprise airbnb guests

In the marketing industry, we call this “surprise and delight.” In fact, the Harvard Business Review states that surprises are one of the most effective marketing tools. 

This doesn’t need to be a big or costly surprise. You could make a gesture such as leaving hot cocoa packets in mugs waiting for them during a wintry day with a little welcome note. Or, you could add a nice toiletry to the bathroom that was unexpected but appreciated. 

tips for airbnb photos

I recall walking into my favorite accommodations in Honolulu and seeing they supplied my room with local Hawaiian Keurig coffee cups instead of the same-old brands hotels use. I was so excited and had no idea this was going to be a thing.

My favorite memory from Honolulu consists of walking outside at sunrise into the sweet balmy island breeze with that coffee in hand, as I slowly stroll down the Waikiki beach walkway gazing between the palm trees to watch local surfers catch their first wave. 

sunrise at waikiki beach

From now on, that hotel is inextricably linked with my favorite little memory from Honolulu, all because they supplied that Hawaiian coffee. I became a repeat guest and will continue to stay there each time I return to Oahu.

11. Optimize the Order of Your Airbnb Images

Your first five photos make the first (and biggest) impression on a potential guest. They compose the featured photos at the top of your Airbnb listing. 

The First Picture is Worth a Thousand(+) Clicks

The first image (your Airbnb cover photo) is the immediate one encountered in search results. It’s also the most prominent image displayed at the top of your listing. It can make or break a potential click on your listing.

worst airbnb photos
What not to do with your first photo
(Image source: Airbnb)

Make sure your first photo is the most impressive one you have and evokes emotion. And that the rest tell a comprehensive story alongside it.

airbnb photo collage example good
Great example of an optimized Airbnb photo collage
(Image source: Airbnb)

Make sure the important parts of your photos aren’t cut off in the photo collage (like in the listing below).

airbnb photo section tips
Always check your photo collage after uploading images.
(Image source: Airbnb)

12. Use Airbnb Photography Captions Smartly

Airbnb photo captions are precious real estate. Unfortunately, they are often underutilized––which can make you stand out in a sea of empty captions.

Captions are one of the easiest ways that you can improve your Airbnb photos section.

airbnb photo captions example good
“You can feed swans or ducks from a balcony while driving your morning coffee/tea. An unforgettable experience!” (Image source: Airbnb)

You can use them to lead the potential guest through a visual experience by using your words to evoke emotion. The captions are also easy vehicles for conveying information the guest might want to know or find valuable. 

Check out the following Airbnb caption examples we wrote to demonstrate this.  

Airbnb Photo Caption Examples

  • Imagine yourself relaxing in this cedar hot tub gazing out at the snow-capped mountains while glittery snow falls around you. Unwind after an adventurous day of snowshoeing on the nearby trails.
  • Work or stream movies uninterrupted with our high-speed 200 mbps internet connection.
  • Wake up rested and re-energized after falling into a deep sleep on this firm king-size memory foam mattress with cooling bamboo sheets.
ways to improve airbnb photos

 

13. Ditch the Duplicates

This is an Airbnb photo tip that guests will appreciate, too. If any photos are too similar, you need to choose the best one and make room for other high-quality photos. Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. This is one of the easiest Airbnb photo tips to implement.

14. Limit the Focus Shots

Focus shots should be limited to those that truly add value by focusing in on a specific feature or area of your space. For example, you will already have a full shot of the bed, so there is no point in taking a separate focus photo of the pillows. 

airbnb photography tips
This is an example of a focus shot that won’t do much for the viewer.

But it would make sense to dedicate a photo to the vinyl albums you supply. This is an unusual amenity and a photo of this can capture your brand while showing the guest a sampling of the records on hand in the unit.

airbnb photo tips for hosts
This focus shot conveys value and useful information while enhancing the listing’s brand.

15. No Selfies (an Airbnb Photography Tip Everyone Can Agree on)

If you have selfies or photos of you in the Airbnb unit, remove them. The only exception to this is if you look like a professional model posing as an Airbnb guest and you had a photoshoot done by a photographer. 

ways to improve airbnb photos
This would most likely negatively affect your booking potential.
(Image source: Airbnb)

Being personable is nice, but you can convey that in other spaces (like in your host profile) and listing description. Photos of the host in the unit will make some guests question the level of privacy they’ll have.

Want Custom Airbnb Photo Tips for Your Listing?

If you’re pressed for time to compare these Airbnb photo tips to your existing listing photos…

Hire someone to audit your Airbnb listing and give customized recommendations for how to improve your Airbnb photo section.

ways to improve airbnb photos
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