This is one of those key secrets that you may subconsciously know; one of those little bits of information that is buried deep in the recesses of your brain.

It is something that hooked you, but you didn’t realize what it was.

And after reading this, that little niggling feeling you have will finally be validated.

I asked Andy McNulty, co-founder of TouchStay, and former CFO of Gucci, to explain the five marketing photos that you really need for your vacation rental property but don’t have.

Katy Trail by Tyann Marcink

Photo by Tyann Marcink

From Andy:

We all love being on vacation, but how many of us love the process of booking one? If you are anything like me, it goes something like this:

  • Pack the kids off to bed
  • Pour a glass of wine
  • Grab the iPad and excitedly start searching for the perfect vacation
  • Browse what seems like hundreds of ordinary websites
  • 2 hours later, give up, cork the wine, and wonder why you bothered

Well, it is not quite that bad, and I always find a location and a vacation rental property eventually. But I do invariably come away feeling less relaxed and excited than when I began…which is the opposite of how booking a stress-free getaway should be.

The reason is that the sheer choice of places to visit is bewildering. And, being honest, sometimes you have to wade through a lot of some duds to find a winner.

When faced with a choice, we gravitate to the location or vacation rental property that resonates with us – the gut feeling of wanting to be at that place. And nothing generates a strong gut feel quite like rich, stunning photographs.

Eye-catching images make people pause, take notice, and put themselves on the shores of that beautiful beach or strolling the sidewalks of that quaint, tree-shaded take-me-back-in-time downtown area.

With that, here are my five reasons that AREA PHOTOS sell your vacation rental property:

#1: Grab My Attention

I did a quick search with the words “Santa Rosa Beach Vacation Rentals” to see what websites would pop up for me. Here are two of the sites that popped up on page 1: “Santa Rosa Beach Vacation Rentals” search result “Santa Rosa Beach Vacation Rentals” search result

Which site do you “feel” more? Which one is likely to transport you to Santa Rosa Beach and, consequently, have you clicking through for more information?

For me, it is the Beautiful Beach website with the scrolling area photos that have me hooked.

In short, I feel relaxed – this is a site where I want to spend time. They have won the battle of grabbing my attention by using beautiful area photos.

#2: Be My Guide

Without a doubt, one of the vacation rental industry’s greatest assets is its personal nature. It is the individual owners or small agencies who know an area better than any guidebook.

Use area images to make your own guidebook to guide your guests through an amazing experience at your place.

Ashley de Jong's guide to Austin, Texas

Ashley de Jong’s guide to Austin, Texas

If you don’t want to do it yourself, check out Guest Hook, where we produce short, highly visual area guides, which are built around the concept that owners and managers are insiders. Not only do we convey their expertise through text, but we also use plenty of high-quality visual images as well.

The guide to Austin, Texas, above, is an example of how stunning photos can make a guide sing while capturing the essence of staying with an owner like Ashley de Jong. The result? The guest who feels a connection with this style of owner is far more likely to inquire and convert.

#3: Mentally Transport Me

I want to know about the area well before I arrive – to have a sense of place. To instantly capture that, there is no better way than photos of the areas that your guests can explore and experience while at your vacation rental property.

Within nanoseconds of seeing a “wow” image, I am looking for where to click next to learn more and see more.

Take these photos for example…the beautiful colors and evocative scenes have me mentally in Cyprus – I have a strong desire to feel the warmth, the depth of culture, the Mediterranean vibe.

Cyprus, Greece (stock photos from

Cyprus, Greece (stock photos from

The above images make me want to learn more about this area and to click through more images on a property page in search of accommodation photos that physically transport me in the same way.

#4: Show You Care

Finding a site with photos that have been professionally produced certainly captures my heart. But, it very quickly does one other important thing – it sends a message to my brain that the owner cares about the details of the vacation rental property.

Not only does the owner love his destination and wants to showcase it in its best light, he is also willing to spend extra time and extend his budget to up his vacation rental game.

Walking the pier at sunset in Oceanside, California (photo by Tyann Marcink)

Walking the pier at sunset in Oceanside, California (photo by Tyann Marcink)

When I see gorgeous, vibrant photos, I think: “These owners know what they are doing when it comes to marketing their destination. And, I bet the inside of their rental is taken care of down to the details, too.”

#5: Break My Preconceived Notions

Many prospective travelers think they know your corner of the world, even if they have never visited. They have formed their preconceived ideas via a combination of TV, Google searches, and friends’ Facebook or Instagram feeds.

Your area images have a powerful way of busting, even shattering, preconceived notions about a destination.

For example, tropical destinations are not all sprawling white sand beaches and aqua water – that might be everyone’s first notion. Display beautiful shots of traditional architecture in town or of the local off-the-beaten-path seafood joint and show a whole new side of your area that is worth exploring.

Mr. Ruribertos Taco Shop in San Diego, California (photos by Tyann Marcink)

Mr. Ruribertos Taco Shop in San Diego, California (photos by Tyann Marcink)

Stunning area images pull at my desire to go see for myself—in person—the tiles that make up the mosaic of a destination.


Andy, lots and lots of thanks for your marketing images insight!

My challenge to my readers: I want to know what photo of your vacation rental property area that you use to help sell your place. Comment below with a description and a link to your favorite area photo that you use on your website, your blog, or in your listing.

By the way, the best way to stay on top of all the good stuff is to get on my vacation rental marketing email list.

You can sign up right here:

Tyann Marcink
Create Killer Vacation Rental Property Photos – eBook now available
The Ultimate Guide to Vacation Rental Photography – coming soon