Photography and video tips for holiday property

Marriotts Elviria Marbella

Adopting a User Generated Content strategy for your holiday rental marketing

If you follow the Rental Tonic marketing blog you’ll be accustomed to our banging on about selling the experience, not the accommodation. These days you have to sell the guest experience. Nothing less will do.

There are two ways you can do this through visual content. You can create your own or use the visual experiences of your guests. This is called user generated content.

What is User Generated Content?

UGC isn’t a new medium, but it’s snowballing in terms of its true potential, especially within the travel and accommodation sector. User Generated Content is any content: blogs, images, social media posts, reviews, which have been created and are shared by unpaid contributors, i.e. fans, i.i.e. your guests.

The evolution of visual content marketing

Visual content plays a huge part in how marketers convert consumers to their brand and its come a long way since the days of banner and button advertising. The objective of which was to convince the client of a quick sale, playing up to consumer pricing – something we want to avoid. The visual aspect was uninspiring.

These days the way we create, view and share visual content has become somewhat of a phenomenon. We play out our lives through a camera lens and share it with the world. We are in a moment of perpetual discovery, continuously seeking new experiences to live and share; not just with friends and family, but with like minded people around the world. Our reach is limitless.

Hike along the Rio Chillar in Nerja

Great hike along the Rio Chillar in Nerja. Highly recommended if you’re visiting Andalucía.

Our shared experiences make the consumer buying process more enjoyable. No longer do we have to rely on what a brand tells us. We can find out what like-minded consumers think about a brand or product. We trust ‘people like us’ more than we trust the advertising message. In fact we have at our fingertips visual content that echoes our dream holiday and motivates us to plan and book the next adventure.

As travellers enter into perpetual discovery mode, your task as a holiday rental owner or manager is to grab them with visually exciting content at the inspiration (planning or dreaming stage), before they’ve reached the buying (booking) stage, when you lose them to a hundred other accommodation options.

Reaching your ideal guests through visual content marketing

Consumers attracted to visual content tend to purchase with their heart and are much better at engaging with content and using review systems. Ultimately they are not driven by price, the trigger we most want to avoid, so instead of creating content you should be creating experiences; capturing inspiring, authentic moments that captivate your ideal guests and provoke a reaction.

Visual reviews

Question: What do you think is the more convincing review?

Visual travel reviews

Getting your guests to share their instagrammable moment during their holiday is a super way to grab the attention of potential holiday rental guests who want to visually digest travel experiences. If text reviews already offer potential guests a credible assessment of a travel experience, can you imagine adding a photo? All of a sudden the review becomes even more authentic and anticipated. It instantly humanises your holiday experience.

Customers want to be able to picture themselves in the place of the reviewer, so all visual content should be relatable, not perfect. Nobody can imagine themselves in a stock image. Your focus should always be on content that’s authentic and original.

Will my guests want to share their best moments with me? Some will, some won’t. Take the attitude that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Mention the concept during pre-stay communication, perhaps when you send them your insider’s guide or digital welcome book. You might want to wrap up the request with an offer, such as a discount off future bookings (more repeat guests), or a free welcome pack (happy arrivals).

How should I use them? Visual reviews should be featured across your own holiday rental website, as part of an evergreen social media campaign and linked to within your pre and post stay guest communication.

Getting influencers involved

Leah Travels Instagram

From Leah Travels. Travel writer and photographer.

The next step, or rather ‘big leap’, in your user generated content journey is to get influencers involved in your story. Influencers  – travel bloggers, photographers, instagrammers – take photos of everything: on the way to the airport, on the plane, arrivals hall, in their accommodation and during every moment of their trip. They use geofilters and hashtags to map out their adventure, so their followers feel like they’re travelling with them.

Clever travel brands use these influencers to reach out to new and wider audiences, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t too. Their take on your holiday home could have far reaching possibilities for the future of your holiday rental business.

The thought of reaching out to a travel blogger to ask them to review your holiday experience may seem a daunting thing, but it’s worth a few knock backs. Start by following the top influencers in your region or target market. These might be micro influencers in the grand scheme of global audiences, but they will help you reach and captivate new audiences that you wouldn’t be able to reach on your own steam.

You’ll need to start by building a rapport:

  • Add your expert and, importantly, friendly opinion as comments in some of their blog posts
  • Follow, like, share and retweet their posts to your followers
  • Share your holiday experiences, visual reviews and related travel and destinations news with them via social media
  • Recommend them to your followers and guests as an expert travel blogger for your destination or holiday experience

Once you’ve built that rapport and shortlisted the influencers that are most engaged with your content, you could take it to the next level and ask them to personally review your holiday accommodation.

Before you go wild, you’ll be disappointed if you aim to convince macro influencers to review your holiday. Those guys and gals are earning big bucks from big brands to review their product. Do your research well, identify influencers who are either currently travelling your region or live within a reasonable distance and offer them a stay in your holiday home.

Obviously that’s not going to work for all of you. To get a travel influencer to stay in your holiday accommodation you have to have a pretty special proposition. A unique home, location or a quirkiness that might just grab their attention. This level isn’t for everybody and it will cost you a weekend (that you probably couldn’t fill), but the opportunities are far reaching and outweigh the expense.

Look out for our next article: Five Countries, Five Top Travel Bloggers and Instagrammers to Follow!

Doing it for yourself

While you’re building up your user generated content, there’s no reason why you can’t be creating your own visual content. Think about your holiday experience, what are your instagrammable moments? What moments would evoke your guests to take a photo during their stay?

Until you can get them to capture the best moments for you, you can recreate them through your own eyes. Just remember to make them authenticate and rich with life. Forget photographing your holiday home, step outside and look at what’s around you. Capture the view, the locals, the sunset, the cuisine, the cocktails. Basically capture life. Remember forget picture perfect and focus on the human experience.

Traditional Korev Cornish beer enjoyed along with great views from our garden.

Traditional Korev Cornish beer enjoyed along with great views from our garden.

Where to be

Teeny tiny flamenco bar in Castellar de la Frontera

Vertical images are viewed better on mobile devices.

Ok, so for those taking the first steps onto the social media marketing ladder, the first question is always where should I be? Is it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus, LinkedIN? The answer is everywhere, but don’t panic. There are tools and methods that will help you schedule and share your social media and blog posts, so don’t worry about where.  What you mustn’t lose focus on is the what. It’s the medium that counts. And that medium should be visual content.

Instagram and Snapchat are the visual platforms that have really snowballed in 2016. The most important statistic you need to know about Instagram is that brand engagement is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest and 84 times higher than Twitter. Revealing Instagram as an essential channel in any travel marketing strategy. (Oh and pizza is the most popular instagrammed food 😉

Top tip: Nearly 80% of social media time is spent viewing on a mobile device, so whilst traditionally we would recommend taking horizontal shots, vertical images and video bring experiences to life better on a mobile device.

Make it actionable

As with any marketing, there’s no point in doing it if there’s no ‘call to action’ or route to purchase, in our case, to book your holiday home. All of your beautiful experiences need to be actionable, so showcase the experience together with a call to action. Your engagement should always follow through, whether that be to your website, advertising listing, email or other sales funnel.

Top takeaways

  • Showcase the experience not the features: think outside the box to highlight your experiences
  • Highlight your best moments, the instagrammable moments: take your guests and followers along for the ride
  • Take them on the journey and provide advice and guidance along the way
  • Use visual and even video reviews: they’re authentic and humanise your experience
  • As always, knowing your ideal customer is key to delivering visual content they want to see
  • When reaching out to travel influencers first research their reach and followers. Do they resonate with your ideal guest persona?
  • Make all customer experiences actionable

What are you waiting for? Go get started creating inspiring visual content!

If you want to find out more about how visual content marketing and user generated content can help your holiday rental business, get in touch with me today and tell me about your instagrammable moment.


Convert more holiday rental bookings with floor plans and virtual tours


CubiCasa Floorplan

Have you ever considered adding a 2D or 3D floor plan to your holiday home advertising or website? In recent years, several digital floor plan and virtual tour resources have launched onto the market, offering added value marketing tools for holiday rental owners.

Is it just another marketing fad to get you to spend your hard earned rental income?

Traveller surveys show that floor plans are a welcome addition to holiday rental advertising descriptions and image galleries. They can give your marketing an edge and help convert more enquiries quicker, by lending confidence to your property.

Visualise it!

Floor plans help guests quickly visualise the space in a holiday home. This is especially beneficial for families who want a place to stay, where there is ample room for kids and adults. A space for the children to play, and the adults to relax.

When you consider that a third of all holidays taken each year are in family – that’s approximately 115 million family holidays! It’s a no brainer to add tools that will provide families with all the information they need to choose your holiday rental, over next door.


Cubicasa’s cool 2D floor plan conversion

Think about some of the questions you are asked by guests:

  • Is there ample space for my children to play indoors?
  • I want to make sure the main bedroom is close enough to the children’s bedroom, so I can hear and attend to them quickly.
  • Is there a bedroom on the ground floor?
  • Is the kitchen big enough to prepare family meals?
  • Is the kitchen closed off, or open-plan?
  • Is your holiday rental wheelchair accessible?
  • How many doors to the terrace/outdoor space?
  • Do you have plenty of outdoor space for dining?

Your floor plans or even better, a virtual tour linked to a floor plan, will help answer many of the queries that your guests have about space: where to eat, sleep and poop, and will cut down conversation time.

If you have an original floor plan scan, there are some economical digital options, that let you design an eye-catching floor plan yourself.

If you want something a little more striking, there are services that will create digitally enhanced floor plans, linked to interactive virtual tours, using your holiday rental photography. Guests can click on the floor plan to visit a digitally enhanced image of a room and to scan around from different angles. This is an excellent way to showcase your holiday rental in style and give a good feel of space.


Planomatic’s interactive floor plan

Rental Tonic has compiled four of the best virtual tour and floor plan companies offering tools designed for holiday rental owners:

Roomsketcher is a Scandinavian company that provides the tools for you to design your own 2D and 3D floor plans, plus you can create 3D snapshots of your home. I have seen some great examples of holiday rental homes using Roomsketcher to design their floor plans. The floor plan designer isn’t free, but at $49 per year, it’s not a bad price for the tools it offers.

Cubicasa helps you create stylish floor plans through its application, even when the original plan isn’t available. It is not a complete DIY solution like RoomSketcher, but a combination of DIY and automation. It keeps the manual work for you to a bare minimum.

Planomatic is a US-focused application. A representative visits your vacation rental to take photos, which are then transformed into really stunning floor plans and image tours. They also offer a virtual service, called “Tour Creation”, generating floor plans without having to visit your property.

The US company Truplace has a dedicated holiday rental (vacation rental) service. They will take your holiday rental photography and turn it into an interactive virtual image and floor plan tour. Room images appear, when guests click on the floor plan.  The tours can be linked to from your FlipKey and HomeAway adverts.

Film location using luxury villa in Marbella

How to sell your holiday rental as a film location

Kate Winslet’s cottage in The Holiday, the Chicago mansion in Home Alone and the Spanish villa in Sexy Beast. Great movies filmed in fabulous homes around the world. Producers are always on the lookout for properties with character to use as a filming location, whether it be for a TV commercial, series or feature film.

Rental Tonic’s very own Lindsay Gregory has experience working with production companies, with several properties from her Luxury Villa Collection portfolio featured in well known TV programs and reality shows.

Today we’re sharing our professional tips on how to turn your holiday rental into a film location; how to sell it to location scouts and pre-production companies, and perhaps become the next ‘film star’ home.

Advertising shoot in holiday rental Marbella

First stop: Your Holiday Rental Website

Location scouts do search holiday rental listings to shortlist properties, but if your holiday home has that certain je ne sais quoi that could make it an ideal film or advertising set, you’ll stand out from the competition in your destination by creating your own holiday rental website. If you don’t already have one? You should have.

Tip: Set-up a well-optimised page on the site with information focused on the property as a film location.

Having your own website is an essential part of your holistic marketing in today’s competitive holiday rentals marketplace; helping you showcase your property’s star qualities, through images, videos and great copy. In this case it will also help production companies find you when they Google search a destination.

Pre-production and location scouts

If you’re feeling confident, go ahead and contact pre-production companies directly to present your home as a potential film or ad shoot location. Ask if they have a location portfolio that you can be added to.

Tip: Don’t leave out the production companies in the country where your property is located. They will often be contacted by international agents and scouts, and of course, filming also happens in your own country by local production companies, so getting your home on their books is essential.

Create a portfolio

Aside from using your holiday rental website as a promotional tool, it’s a good idea to create a mini brochure or portfolio to showcase your holiday rental. Use your best quality photos and create beautiful content about your property’s best features.

We recommend you get some professional ‘on location’ photos done to use for your brochure. If you have a video of your home, you can also add that to your presentation email and of course on your website.

Check out this holiday rental brochure example from Lindsay’s Luxury Villa Collection portfolio.

Local journalists and bloggers

Destination bloggers and local media often get contacted by production companies to help source locations, so get in touch with  the prominent travel and lifestyle writers and websites in the country where your home is situated. Follow them on social media and sign-up to their newsletters to stay on top of filming opportunities. You could also get in contact to see if they offer opportunities to collaborate. They might ask you to advertise your property on their website. You’ll need to evaluate if this makes financial sense.

Example: In Spain production enquiries come through websites, such as Family Life In Spain and Spain Buddy. Spain Buddy have a holiday rental resource that costs just 20 € to sign-up to.

Follow them on Social Media

If you use social media to promote your holiday rental, then it’s a good idea is to add the Facebook/Twitter accounts of relevant programmes, series and production companies. As they will often put a shout out when searching for properties.

Using Pinterest or Instagram is also a great way to showcase the best images and videos of your holiday rental. You could integrate your Pinterest boards into your website.

Professional photography for holiday rentals

Photographers and Videographers

Another great idea is to link up with local photographers and videographers and give them a commission if they get a location booking for your property. They are often contacted by advertising agencies, location scouts and designers to help source villa venues for advertising shoots.

Push for PR

If you have a luxury or unique property, we recommend that you create a press pack – pdf format – with the intro and main wording of the press release pasted straight into an email.

Make a contact list of Travel/Property editors of quality press: quality national press and lifestyle/travel magazines, such as The Independent, Telegraph, Sunday Times Travel, Wanderlust and Condé Nast Traveller.

Send them an initial email presenting your property for travel features and remind them every 4-6 months that your property is still available as accommodation. The more you get featured in the press, the more likely you are to get spotted by a production company or location scout. And of course it’s great for stimulating bookings!

Resource: All press coverage of your holiday home should be included on your website. Link to the page, or ask if you can publish a pdf version on your website.

Check the channels

Finally TV channels are always calling for program participants. So keep checking to see if there are any shows in production that need properties in your area. Here are some examples of where and how to register:


Tip: Agents, scouts and pre-production companies, etc. will try to hammer you for a bargain or freebie. It’s essential that you insist ‘in writing’ on having full credits, with the name of your property mentioned as the location, it won’t happen automatically.

Further resources

Greenlight is a great resource to find indie production companies.

Location Agencies and Libraries:

Locations Hub
JJ Locations
Shoot Factory
British Film Commission

If you are a pre-production company looking for quality properties in Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy and other locations throughout Europe, to add to your location list, please get in touch.

Rental Tonic and The Luxury Villa Collection work with some of the most amazing homes throughout Europe.

Interior photopraphy of holiday home in Greece

Property Photography for Holiday Rentals

We are regularly surprised by the varying standard of photography we see property owners using to present their rentals online. Whether they are using an online listing site or even have their own website, we often see badly composed shots or worse, photos that look like they were snapped on an iPhone quickly before they locked up and went home! Read more

Holiday home in Andalucia with bright open conservatory

Holiday Lettings Case Study Part 3: Property Staging

Part #3: Staging a home to attract rentals

The process of “staging” a property is common practice in Real Estate to sell a house, but for some reason this does not happen so much in the holiday lettings business. Read more

Professional HD villa video screen shot

How to grab your ideal guests attention in less than 10 seconds

When I decide to book a holiday, like most travellers I will spend a fair bit of time researching where I´d like to go and looking for a holiday that´s “just right”. During this research phase I am likely to spend several hours clicking in and out of different holiday property ads online, because in 85% of cases I probably wont look past the first thing I see on the page – if the property doesn’t grab my attention in the first 10 seconds then I will just move on to the next. Read more

Manoir master bedroom photograph

The perfect time to update your holiday property photography

So here we are on the cusp of Summer at last! Have you been doing a spot of spring-cleaning & maintenance to get your holiday rental ready for Summer? So why not take the chance to update your holiday property photography too? Read more