Marketing How do you pick the property you will stay in on your next vacation? Do you go for the price? Perhaps the location, or maybe the beauty of the landscaping and exterior? Or is it the interior photos that will make or break your decision? I recently recorded a podcast inteview with Mercedes Brennan who talks about being obsessed with renting vacation homes and mentions she and her family have stayed in 52 separate properties over the years since her children were toddlers. She goes on to say she makes the decisions because of her eye for décor and furnishings and the fact that she only chooses those that are aesthetically pleasing. I have to agree so I thought I’d take a look through some listings and pull out some images that are a complete turn-off from my perspective. Here are the five things that would drive me away from a listing even if the price was right, the location was wonderful , and the beach was right in front of the deck. The key to #vacationrental success are great images! @Cottageguru shares 5 bad images that would make guests run! 1. Second Class bedrooms When I am choosing a vacation rental for my family, I want all the bedrooms to look great, not just the master. It’s a real bugbear that there are so many where the master has a queen or king bed, yet the second bedroom has a double, or even worse, twin beds. In Second Best Can Be First Class I gave some tips for second bedrooms to avoid this: “When families or friends travel together, the decision on who gets the best bedroom is a tricky one, particularly if the cost has been split equally. How do they decide who is going to enjoy the king size bed with the pillow top mattress and plush bedding, and who gets the double with the older mattress and aged comforter? This decision can often result in resentment, disappointment and subsequent negative reviews.” In addition, the secondary bedrooms must have the same appeal as the master. How would you feel if you went on vacation with friends and the second bedroom was this: or even worse, this one: Extreme I know, but I think you get where I am going with this. Even if the secondary rooms are small, really go to town on making them look appealing and just as enticing as the master bedroom. So here is how a tiny second bedroom was turned into a romantic and cosy space with only the cost of attractive bedding, pillows that look as though they are really comfortable and some good lighting. Before After I rest my case! 2. Ugly Living Space Regardless of where we are going, it’s important that the living space is comfortable. Even when outside living is what we are expecting most of the time, the weather doesn’t always play nice, and we could end up spending far more time inside than planned. If it’s a break in winter (in a winter environment) then I want to see a fire lit, ambient lighting and the feel ing that we are going to be cosy and warm. This one would have me running for the hills and I wouldn’t know where to start with correcting it, but a couple of things are clear. Remove exercise eqiupment from living space – sure we’d like a gym in the house, but not in the living room. Co-ordinate the lighting. This is such an important feature in living space, it should not be a mish-mash of styles. Replace old and outdated carpeting. Immediately! Give a lot of thought to the furniture. Does it serve any purpose? How can it be arranged to create a space where people would actually want to sit? This is probably more of a lost cause and I challenge any stagers out there to come in with some suggestions. Needless to say, I would not book this one at any price. 3. A Kitchen I wouldn’t want to cook in…. Back in the UK many eons ago, we didn’t talk about holiday rentals or vacation rentals. The expression was ‘self-catering accommodation’ and that really described what we should expect. A place where we catered for ourselves, meaning it had a kitchen in which to prepare culinary masterpieces for family and friends – just as we would like at home. When I’m on the hunt for a place to rent, the kitchen is important. I look for good quality appliances, shiny surfaces, usually a breakfast bar or a place for the non-cooks to sit and keep me company. I want to see an image that makes me start planning the meals I am going to cook there, not wonder however we’ll manage, and start looking up nearby restaurants and takeaways. 4. Dark and Scary Spaces Seriously, there is no excuse for poor photographs any more, and these can kill any interest that someone may have in a property. If you don’t know how to take a picture, then find someone who can and please, please avoid posting anything like this on a listing. 5. Your Happy Family Snaps I saved this one till last as I have had it around on my computer for a long time and am not sure which lisitng site it came from but I used it in a presentation a while back and it got a wonderful reaction from the audience. Most were just dumbfounded that it was a genuine listing I had found it on, and could not believe anyone would see this as relevant or appropriate, but hey, ‘life is just a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get next’. I had fun with this, but it was a little unnerving how easy it was to find examples of images that were a complete turn-off. I also know that most readers of this blog are here because they want to do better, and create the very best for their guests. But, if anything strikes a chord with you, take a look at your listings, and ask yourself if you’re using an image that might trigger a negative reaction with your prospective guests. Get a third party to look at them. I’m always happy to offer constructive feedback too as long as you don’t send me any of the above.