In today's world, almost everyone has a smartphone or tablet, so virtually anyone can be an amateur photographer. In fact, some amateurs have some pretty impressive skills. But even so, it's hard to match the skill and the quality of photo that you'll get when you work with a professional photographer, especially when it comes to photographing your vacation home.
Hiring a professional photographer to capture your vacation rental property and the surrounding region is actually quite important, especially for a region like Panama City Beach because it's a vacation destination that lacks the memorability of many other locations.
For example, you say the word “Orlando” and images of Disney attractions and palm trees come to mind. Mention “Miami” and most people are going to envision beautiful beaches, high-end shopping, and a bustling nightlife scene. But mention Panama City Beach and many draw a blank.
It's a problem that was a lot worse before the days of the internet. Growing up, my family owned a number of vacation rentals across the country and most of our marketing was done via print ads, in which we were lucky to be able to include a single photograph.
We would routinely get phone calls from potential guests, and I remember listening to my parents as they painted a mental picture for these guests. They would describe more than just our vacation home; they would paint a picture of the entire area, attempting to convey what it was truly like to vacation in that destination. In fact, my mom became very adept at this verbal “painting,” as I remember that a couple of our vacation homes were booked solid year-round.
Today, the internet has largely eliminated this problem since it's relatively easy to find images of any given vacation destination. But as a vacation rental owner, you'll need to have photos that make your property stand out from all others while simultaneously conveying what type of experience guests can expect if they book a reservation.
So let's examine a few strategies that you and your property manager can employ using photos to boost bookings at your Panama City Beach rental home.
Tips for Increasing Bookings With Professional Photographs
Conveying what it's really like to stay in your vacation rental can be a challenge because you're tasked with capturing the actual property and some of the attractions that you'll find at Panama City Beach. Here are some tips to achieve this with photos.
Determine your target demographic. Who is your target audience? What are their age range and socioeconomic status? Are you seeking to pull in families, retired couples, young childless couples, honeymooners, college students, or a combination of two or more groups? You'll want to determine your target audience and plan your photography sessions so that they appeal to and resonate with these individuals.
You cannot be all things to all people, so it's generally best to work with your property manager to narrow your demographic and target one or two groups (ideally groups with some degree of overlap) and consider what types of activities, settings, and other factors are apt to be most appealing. Your target demographic should be consistent in all of your marketing and advertising materials, so this will be a key element of your vacation home marketing strategy.
By focusing on a precise demographic, you can use photos to make your vacation home more appealing to your target audience, while making it less noticeable to any demographic that you would like to avoid.
Decide what photographs will best suit your needs. Once you know who you're targeting with your photos and marketing efforts, you'll need to decide what activities are appealing to these individuals.
For instance, Panama City Beach is known as a party destination that's popular among college students. But if you prefer not to rent to college students, you might take photos of families and older couples taking part in activities that are less apt to appeal to young college students in search of a great party. For example, if you’re targeting couples, you might focus on things like romantic strolls on the beach, fine dining, or golfing. This will also make your home more appealing to people who may not associate Panama City Beach with more subdued activities.
Alternatively, if you're really focusing on the college crowd, you'll want to focus on activities like lounging on the beach with a cocktail and partying in one of the many bars or clubs.
Photos of Spring Breakers on the beach can attract renters if your target demographic is college students. Image: Wikimedia Commons user Eupator
Also consider: How are your guests spending their time when they're in your vacation rental home? This is where your Panama City Beach property manager can be very helpful because he or she should be meeting and greeting your guests. This should provide the property manager with an opportunity to discuss their plans or what activities they've enjoyed thus far on their trip.
The guestbook can also be quite helpful in this regard because most guests will take the time to discuss what they did during their trip. You can use this to plan your photography sessions.
If you’re targeting an older demographic, you might take photos of relaxing strolls on the beach. Image: Flickr CC user TimOve
Consider home staging photography. Home staging photography is a very specific style of photography that captures your home while it's staged for use. For example, you wouldn't just snap a photo of the bathroom. You would draw a bath, light candles, and artfully set out towels and decorative soaps, so it appears inviting and just about to be used.
Similarly, you wouldn't just take a snapshot of the outdoor dining area, you would formally set the table and include artfully arranged food items so it looks as though you could walk into the photo and enjoy a romantic dinner while you watch the sun set over the Panama City Beach coastline.
Unlike traditional real estate photography, in which the focus is on the property and not the people, photography for a vacation rental can include people because you're trying to convey an experience. So you can work with your property manager to hire someone to perform the staging (if necessary; some home staging photographers work with a specific staging expert). You can also work with your property manager to hire models who are representative of your target audience. Alternatively, your property manager may make arrangements to photograph specific guests who are representative of the demographic that you're targeting.
Home staging photography for your vacation home can include people because you’re trying to convey an experience.
Consider destination photography. Destination photography is another part of the equation and it involves capturing photos of people performing various activities in prominent locations throughout Panama City Beach. This area is known for its beautiful beaches, its nightlife, and a range of other attractions, so you'll want to work with your property manager to pick three or four of the most popular activities among your target audience and then dispatch your photographer to capture these photos.
This style of photography is designed to convey an experience; to give your potential guests an idea of what they can enjoy. So it's vital that you have a professional photographer who knows how to capture the emotion and feeling of the subjects, while also capturing the location as a whole.
Your destination photos should be specific to Panama City Beach and the many local attractions. You want to avoid using photos that look like they could have been captured anywhere on the planet. Capture palm trees, the coastline, and other iconic Florida attractions.
Capturing iconic Panama City Beach attractions can help convey an experience associated with your vacation home.
Once you have your photos, your property manager can start using these beautiful images in marketing campaigns, in advertisements, in vacation rental listings, and on your vacation home's website and social media accounts.
Don't have a property manager yet? Your Panama City Beach vacation home could be falling short of its full potential. But that's where Rented.com can help. Get started by creating a free profile. Then, local Panama City Beach property managers will bid on your home, and you can choose the manager that best suits your needs.