Is Poor Photography Preventing Your Cottage From Being Booked?

Feb 5, 2019Still photography

Good Photography Guide: 

When selling a house online, we all know that the main thing that makes people click to find out more about property or not, are the images used to display its interior and exterior.  The same applies to renting a holiday cottage.  

Here, founder and director of Holiday Cottage Compare, Paula Alexander, describes common pitfalls that holiday cottage owners fall into when photographing their property, which can make the difference between holiday cottages being overlooked instead of booked.

Our website features over 13,000 cottages throughout the UK, so being able to define trends between what sells well and what doesn’t, within specific regions, is fascinating.  By looking into what our users choose when they’re presented with a range of cottages within the same location and at a similar price, we know that photos really can be the clincher between one or the other.

The types of photos that don’t sell a holiday cottage well tend to have the following features:

Poor lighting

This may seem quite obvious, but just think for a moment how many holiday brochures use photos to promote beach holidays, taken on an overcast day.  They just don’t.

If you plan to take photographs of your holiday cottage, but it’s at a time when the sun isn’t shining or there’s no light coming into one side of the property, it really is worth considering rescheduling if you don’t have professional lighting or professional photographer.

Turn bedside lamps on. Light fires – even if just for a few minutes. Create a warm welcome. Think, does it look like somewhere that you yourself would want to visit?

People go on holiday to have a great time – if your holiday cottage looks like somewhere best suited to curling up with a book and a big blanket, you’ll be cutting out a huge percentage of the people who might want to book.

Consider the garden

Holidaymakers book holiday cottages for a number of different reasons.  We have clients who come back to us time and time again because they specifically need a holiday cottage with an enclosed garden, which is just one of our many search options.  This is usually because they have small children or dogs, which they want to be safe and potentially unsupervised for periods, whilst in the garden.

For these reasons, if the pictures of your garden make it look smaller than it actually is, or don’t show its best bits, like a lush green lawn or a tree that might provide some shade in the heat of summer, then you should consider re-taking them to show them in their best light, with key features such as a secure gate or high fence.

Focus on great hot tub photography

Hot tubs are understandably incredibly popular with people who book holiday cottages.  After all, what can be more relaxing than a soak in a hot tub with a glass of wine after a long day exploring?

Following on from optimal garden photographs, if your hot tub is in the garden, then make sure that it’s a focal point in your photographs.  Take the cover off, switch it on to show the lights and bubbles and maybe add a bottle of Prosecco? Similarly, if there’s a great view that holidaymakers can enjoy from the hot tub, like a seascape or landscape, then capture this from their side of the hot tub.

Perhaps the most important consideration when photographing hot tubs, from my experience in assisting with holiday cottage bookings, is to make sure that there aren’t strangers using the hot tub in the photograph!  No one likes to think of other people having been in ‘their’ cottage, bath or hot tub. We are often asked whether a hot tub is private or shared and in many cases, if it looks to be shared or it is shared, it’s frequently a no-go.

Don’t leave people with any doubt if your hot tub is private. And show this in the photograph.  People don’t want to go on holiday and remember the couple who were in the photo of the hot tub, when they try it out.  In an ideal world, your hot tub would be brand new, unused and clean.  Your hot tub doesn’t have to actually be brand new, but it should look as new and clean as possible in the photos that you take.

Keep it tidy 

On a similar note to people in hot tubs, if your cottage looks like people are living there in the photos, then it can be off-putting.  Leaving ironing boards up and irons plugged in (we’ve really seen this!) or creased bed linen can make it look as though your holiday cottage is messy and ‘well used’. For that best, first impression, keep it spotless.

Avoid reflections in mirrors

Thinking again about holiday brochures – or even television and social media advertisements – they’re usually extremely professional looking.  You’ll never notice a shot of a camera in an advert, or a picture of a kitchen with people walking past the window, in the background.  They keep those for the out-takes!

The same should apply to your holiday cottage.  If you’re uploading the photos and notice that your image is reflected in a bathroom mirror, a picture on the wall or a particularly well-polished window, then re-take it.  It’s unprofessional and by noticing ‘mistakes’ like this, potential bookers may make assumptions about your level of care when it comes to attention to detail in other areas like cleanliness, too.

Consider using a professional photographer

To truly get a good picture of your holiday cottage, we would always recommend using the services of a professional photographer. Not only are they trained and experienced, they come equipped with everything needed to make your cottage look outstanding. That includes lighting, the latest cameras and lenses and also editing software, that can retrospectively adjust your pictures and remove any unwanted detail – such as a rainy day!

In our experience, nothing beats a professionally taken photograph and it’s a worthwhile investment. After all, a picture tells a thousand words, right?

Can holidaymakers see themselves in your holiday cottage?

At the end of the day, when we stay in a holiday cottage, we have certain expectations.  We expect it to be clean, without trace of any previous occupants.  It should be your place to say ‘let’s go home’ to at the end of a day out.  So make sure it looks welcoming in the photos and just as welcoming for your guests when they arrive.

Holiday Cottage Compare makes it faster and easier to find the perfect holiday cottage across the UK using the industry’s most comprehensive search and filter system. 

One of Paula’s main motivations behind setting up Holiday Cottage Compare was that she felt it took far too long to find excellent holiday accommodation in a number of locations, with the exact specifics required to make a holiday cottage the perfect place to stay. 

To see for yourself how Holiday Cottage Compare’s search works, visit: