CFD 575 – How To Take Good Photos Of Your Short Term Rental Listing Q&A

Taking the right photos can make or break your short term rental listing. In today’s Q&A episode of the podcast, we do a full review of a caller’s listing photos and everything their designer and photographer did right, and all the things they did wrong. We also cover why it’s so important to have your spouse on board with your business, as well as the pros and cons of bringing cleaners in house.

Questions and Answers

  • What is the best way to see if the HOA is okay to turn my home into a short term rental? 

The best way to figure this out is to read their Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs). They will typically let you know what they like and don’t like, be aware they may not use the words “short term rental” but they will probably mention something along those lines.

  • A question about setting prices across multiple platforms

The caller currently has Price Labs connected to Lodgify, which is then connected to Booking.com and Airbnb. In order to change their prices between Booking.com and Airbnb, the caller needs to take Price Labs and connect it directly to Airbnb. Once that’s done, she can create a child listing in Airbnb.

  • I have some photo violations on my listing, what should I do?

It appears that the caller’s designer and photographer need to make some changes. Photos where the angle is not level or where the property appears dirty because of poor lighting are going to be major problems. Be aware that when your photographer uses HDR, it’s going to reveal lots of imperfections so it’s probably best to avoid it. 

If you’re not providing a laptop with your rental, don’t take photos with a laptop in it. People will make assumptions about that sort of thing. Same goes for sheets and towels of different colors.. Avoid lights that don’t have a daylight balance for your photos. 

Short term rentals are a review based business, and reviews are primarily about setting the correct expectations at the beginning. Poor photos can end up costing you money, because what you photograph is what your guests will expect. If you deviate from that, that’s when you run into bad reviews. Be careful with the wording on your post as well.

  • What are your thoughts on the Airbnb custom URL link for listings?

It’s a band-aid at best. You want to have control and if you’re going to take the time to promote a listing, you should drive that traffic to your domain. That’s what is going to build your business long term. 

  • The importance of having your spouse on board

As entrepreneurs, we tend to believe that things will work out for us. It’s just how we’re wired. Having a spouse whose perspective you trust on your team will make a huge difference for you. If you’re spouse is not already on board, keep in mind that they are mainly concerned with whether or not they will be okay, especially at the beginning of a new business. 

This business is a team effort, just like raising a family. Make sure they know what contribution they are making, because without them, things would not be where they are. Go find your right hand person.

  • What calendar rules should we set for the holidays?

When it comes to the holidays, your calendar rules have a lot to do with your staff. Are they okay with working/do they celebrate those holidays? We don’t mind arrivals on a holiday, but we do block people from departing on a holiday, but that is a conversation you need to have with your staff well beforehand.

Minimum stays on the holiday will change depending on the holiday itself. Some people can get away with a seven or fourteen day minimum for holidays like Christmas.

  • Can we talk about a cleaning company versus having in house cleaners?

There are a number of things to consider before bringing cleaners in house. Being able to classify your cleaner as a contractor will be crucial to your cost structure. Part of your cleaning costs have nothing to do with cleaning, and everything to do with the organizational cost. Be very clear that you can keep them on as contractors.

The other issue is scheduling. With a company, the process is simple. They have a number of people available at a variety of times when you need them. If you can have someone internally take care of the scheduling and the size of your business justifies it, then it may make sense to bring cleaners in house. 

You are going to need a consistent pipeline of people to hire and train. Hospitality has an incredibly high turnover, so you need two systems in place if you go down this road. Specifically hiring and training. 

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