Marketing I spoke with several renters this week who were pondering options for their summer vacation, and as usual, asked what their criteria were for their dream vacation rental. The response is usually the same – that the ‘must-have’ requirements are:“Great waterfront for the kids; a clean and well-maintained home, and comfortable beds”There’s not much that can be done about a waterfront location. If you have one and it’s got a sandy beach, shallow water and fabulous views, this may be the best selling point, however more potential rental clients are commenting on the bedrooms photos and this suggests that these are having more of an impact on the decision making process than other rooms.This seems to me to be just common sense. Create a superb looking listing with enticing images and it will attract more interest, and most owners understand that. But in my effort to root out the bad apples in the barrel and challenge complacency I’m still coming across some just unbelievable pictures. Bare mattresses; stained comforters and pillows; rooms with just a bed and no side-tables, lamps or window coverings, are common in this category. This seems such gross disrespect to the people that are paying to stay in these places and of course, reflects badly on the industry as a whole.I’d love to name and shame and upload the photos, captioning with the Dr Phil comment, ‘What are you thinking?’, but since I’m having an ethical kind of day I’ll make do with some examples where I’ve worked with new owners to create more attractive images.I’m in the final stages of a new ebook called ‘The Mandalay Project’ which follows the work of Canadian home-stager Rachel Gilooley and her team, to increase the rental rate of a property from $1800 to $2800 per week. Part of this was to revamp the five bedrooms and demonstrate just how to create a stunning environment on a small budget. This was one of the rooms as I saw it on my first visit with Rachel: This was better than some I’ve seen. At least the bedding was straightened and the pillows looked fairly new, but the overall look was sterile to say the least and lacked any ambience or appeal. This same bedroom after Rachel wove some magic. The small basement window was covered in full-length curtaining; the wallpaper border removed and wall painted in a warmer colour which immediately brightened the overall look. The bedding is complemented by floor rugs which are not shown in the photo but add a lovely touch. We also loved the Ikea tree mural on the wall behind the beds. The Mandalay Project is nearing completion and we have already rented out 7 weeks at the new pricing. As each stage is finished, we are sending renters updates which is adding to their excitement and anticipation of their vacation. The next photo is of a small (800 sq ft) cottage, where the owner has created ambient and appealing bedroom spaces with the use of good bedding and lighting. This photo was taken just after the room had been painted in white to give an impression of more space – it’s very small! The door opens onto the electrical panel so it is not an access to another room (just in case you were wondering!) The two small side-tables with lamps worked well to create a more attractive looking bedroom. Even though it’s still a tight squeeze to get to one side of the bed, it does feel more welcoming overall. To be fair, this photo was taken in a property before the owner had closed on the sale and had not been rented. However, it’s not unlike many images shown on rental listings, where little thought has been given to the impression a prospective renter may take away. The same room after the new owner took over, put in a new bed with good quality bedding and photographed it well. I hope this short post has inspired you to take another look at the photos you have on your listing. Do they show the bedrooms in the best possible light? Do they look attractive and appealing? Will they make renters want to come and stay? Do you have any makeover ideas I can share with my readers? I’d love to see some more before and after shots, and will offer a short review to the first few I receive. And there’s more about staging coming soon!