My husband and I recently started looking for a new home and in doing so, we looked at dozens of different listings. I noticed that many real estate agents are using some very cool pieces of technology to showcase these properties. It got me wondering: Why aren't more vacation home owners using this technology to showcase their properties to potential guests?
Once I dug a little deeper, I learned that if vacation rental owners are managing their properties themselves, they often don’t know these cool bits of technology exist, just haven’t thought of them, or don’t have access to them. But many property management companies, on the other hand, are using this technology as a marketing tool to show and book vacation rental homes.
So let's explore some of the cool technology property managers today are leveraging to showcase all that your vacation rental has to offer.
Using Aerial Drone Videos to Market Your Vacation Home
An aerial drone video or images of your home can showcase its beauty in a memorable and eye-catching way that will make your rental listing stand out. Image: Tyann Marcink
For some vacation homes, it's difficult to do the area justice when capturing photos from ground level. Some of the most incredible photos and videos are those that are captured from high in the sky.
An aerial drone video is captured using a small, remote control drone—also called an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). This small vehicle has a video and still camera attached, usually with a live feed so the operator can get a bird's eye view of the area as he or she captures the video footage and still photos. The camera is typically affixed via a gimbal, which allows the operator to pivot and pan.
Aerial videos are incredible at providing a unique, more compelling view of your home and the surrounding area. This is ideal for homes that are surrounded by steep or hard-to-access terrain, thereby limiting your options when taking photos from ground level.
Drone videos are also very eye-catching. And the best part? New, more efficient drone technology and lighter, sharper digital camera technology has made this form of videography and photography more affordable than ever before. In fact, your property management company may own a drone it uses for these purposes. Many, though, prefer to hire a professional to oversee this project. Industry photographers, like Tyann Marcink, are experts at conveying the feeling of a vacation home through images and videos.
Local production companies and photographers can often offer discounted rates for property managers and their clients. Image: Tyann Marcink
Once your aerial video is complete, your property manager can use this video as an eye-catching marketing and promotional tool. The firm can send the video to prospective guests or include the video on your property's website, like this example, or on the property management firm's website (in the case of a property manager who markets multiple properties on the company website).
Aerial drone video operators may charge by the hour or by the job, and there may be additional fees associated with video editing services. The footage can also be integrated with other footage of the interior for a comprehensive promotional video.
The cost to capture an aerial drone video can range from $500 to $1,000 or more, depending on the amount of time required to capture the footage and whether you require help editing the raw footage into a finished promotional video.
Many property managers form partnerships with local video production firms that offer their services at a discounted rate to the property manager’s clients. Some property managers even include these expenses in the contract, typically under the marketing and advertising expenses since aerial drone videos are primarily used as a marketing tool. When you’re hiring a property manager, you may want to ask if an aerial video is included as part of your contract.
Using Virtual Home Tours to Market Your Vacation Rental
New technology allows property managers to “show” a home in a virtual environment so potential guests can get a feel for the layout of your home.
Unlike a real estate agent who can show a home to prospective buyers in person, a property manager is tasked with marketing the rental to potential guests who are in a far off location and won't set foot in the home until they arrive for their vacation.
This can make it quite challenging for property managers and vacation rental owners, who are tasked with “showing” a home in a virtual setting. But this is precisely where a virtual home tour can be useful.
Virtual home tours use the same technology that Google Earth uses to capture its street view perspective. While you're in Google street view, you can virtually walk through neighborhoods. Well, a virtual tour of your vacation home allows prospective guests to do the exact same thing, except it's a tour of the interior (although some homeowners opt to include an outdoor portion of the virtual tour, particularly if you have a nice outdoor kitchen, pool area, courtyard, or another appealing outdoor space).
By providing your guests with a virtual tour and images an video of your home's layout, you’re letting them see exactly what they’ll be getting with your vacation home. When choosing between your home and another, they’re likely to choose the one they feel they know the most about.
Google Earth uses truck-mounted cameras to capture its street view images, but for home tours, a slightly different system is used. The technicians will set up a camera on a tripod in strategic locations throughout the home. Then, the camera takes a 360-degree capture of the area. This process is repeated multiple times to create the interactive home tour.
The process can take a few hours, and you'll need to ensure the home is free of people and pets while the virtual tour footage is captured. The cost does vary depending on the size of the home, ranging from around $750 to $1,500 or more.
If your property manager has formed a partnership with a local tech firm, he or she may be able to secure these services on your behalf at a reduced rate, with savings of 10% to 20% or more. And just as with aerial drone videos, your property manager may include the cost of creating a virtual tour as part of the firm’s marketing and advertising offerings. So it’s important to explore this topic with your property manager before hiring a firm to create a virtual tour.
An interactive virtual home tour's value as a marketing tool far exceeds the fee, as your property manager and marketing team can use this piece of technology to market your home more effectively. What's more, your rental property will stand out from the pack—an important point for those with a property in a highly competitive market.
Just like a video, an interactive virtual home tour can be included on your vacation home's website, in listings advertising your rental, shared on social media, shared in email newsletters, and featured in other marketing materials.
How to Use Virtual Home Staging to Promote Your Vacation Rental
Virtual home staging involves the use of image editing software to alter images of a property.
Now, in most circumstances, you don't want to use virtual home staging for a vacation rental, as this could be construed as deceptive marketing. When you're selling a home, you use virtual home staging to illustrate the possibilities (commonly for a vacant home). But you generally cannot do this for a rental home, as your guests will be rather unhappy to arrive and find that your home looks nothing like the photos.
But there are some circumstances in which virtual home staging can be useful. For example, if you're building a website that your property manager can use to promote your vacation home, and you only have photos captured in the winter, you might use virtual home staging and image editing to make it look as though it's summertime.
Home staging and image editing can help you showcase how your new vacation home rental looks during the prime season -- when the trees are green and the sky is blue, for example -- even if photographs are taken during the off season.
Similarly, you could also use virtual home staging and photo editing to update older photographs to reflect a new paint color on the walls or a new style of window. Image editing may also be used to edit out a person or an unsightly object in an otherwise fabulous photograph.
The end result: better photographs that you and your property manager can use to market your vacation home to prospective guests, whether it's on social media, on your website, in printed marketing materials, and beyond.
Image editing used in virtual home staging allows you to show potential guests photos of your new windows or paint colors without having to do a full re-do of your home’s photographs.
In fact, all of these clever pieces of technology serve as a wonderful investment, as it will allow you to stand out from the crowd while increasing your ROI through more bookings and bookings for a higher fee. The latter is made possible when you show the true beauty of the home and surrounding region. People are willing to pay a bit more for incredible views and beauty, but you must accurately convey this beauty first.
If you're in search of the perfect property manager to oversee your property, along with marketing and bookings, then be sure to check out Rented.com. Many property managers on Rented.com offer a guaranteed revenue model, so you can opt to receive a set monthly amount regardless of your home’s occupancy. Connect with some of the top vacation rental property managers today by signing up for a free account.