Marketing your French holiday let

Good photographs are an absolute must if your property is going to stand out from the crowd and get lots of bookings, says Glynis Shaw

 

When you advertise your holiday rental property on the internet, your purpose should be to grab the attention of browsers, tell them the ‘story’ of a holiday at your place and persuade them to book. At your disposal are two basic tools – words and pictures. Both can be equally persuasive, but there’s no doubt that images are extremely powerful in conveying messages.

So, if photographs are a crucial element in your online listing, what should they show? How can you use them to create the most effective image and display your property at its best?

 

Larger format

Landscape rather than portrait shaped photographs will look best on most web pages and it’s wise to avoid panoramic pictures. We’re currently encouraging owners who use our site to post larger format photos – minimum 500 pixels wide – for greater size and impact on the page. We also encourage posting plenty of images to show both the practical information that enables holidaymakers to book with confidence, and the ‘dream’: the story that browsers want to be sold.

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It may seem obvious but your photos really must be well composed and of good quality. Have plenty to choose from and reject any that are out of focus, in deep shade, have a tilted horizon or imbalanced content such as huge concrete courtyard and small house.

If possible, shoot on a sunny day and at a time when the house and garden are in the sun but not when the sun is directly overhead. The light is often better an hour or two before sunset or early in the morning and a little shadow will give more depth to the picture. Take time, plan a few shooting sessions and play around until you get it just right.

For exterior shots, do not include any vehicles and make sure that the garden is tidy and the pool cover is removed. For interior shots, turn on the lights and, again, shoot early or late for correct exposure, otherwise the light from the windows will be too bright and the interior will be dull, or conversely the room will look right but the windows will be completely overexposed.

Do make an effort to ‘dress’ the shot. Ensure that all clutter is removed. Have a vase of flowers in the living room and a bottle of wine and some glasses on the dining table. Outside, use pots of flowers to create a splash of life and colour. Include people only where you want to sell the possibilities for socialising, such as a game of boules or table tennis or a large group enjoying an outdoor meal.

Choose your ‘thumbnail’ photo very carefully as this is the draw for browsers to click to know more. The image really should say something unique about your property and an attractive exterior view of the house is ideal. Only use a swimming pool image if it also shows the house, a stunning view or a beautiful lounging/dining area.

 

Poetic captions

Brief but poetic captions will do much to enhance the impact of your beautiful photos. Explain what the viewer is seeing and draw them in. Your distant view caption might be ‘dusk settles over vine-clad hills’ and your outdoor meal caption might read ‘enjoy our table d’h�te in high season’.

Remember that if a room or feature is not shown, then the viewer will wonder what you are hiding and suspect the worst. This is an information age and many holidaymakers check out accommodation on Google Earth. Aim to use creative, beautiful, yet honest photography that gives a true impression of the holiday experience and shows that you care about your property and the satisfaction of your guests.

Use our checklist as a guide and adapt the selection of images according to the strengths of your property. For instance, if you have limited outdoor space, don’t try to hide the fact but do compensate by including photos of more than one bedroom and the bathroom or attractive architectural features and add plenty of local colour and places such as beaches, historic sites and markets.

 

Glynis Shaw is joint MD of French Connections holiday rentals and property sales online

www.frenchconnections.co.uk