Creating a Killer Rental Property Listing Pt. 1: Your Featured Image

So you’ve taken the plunge into the property rental business, and now you can’t wait to get your first booking! You’ve set up your profiles on Airbnb & VRBO, and now it’s time to go LIVE!

Your home is finally ready after months of preparation and excitement is growing as you imagine the income that will flood into your bank account..

You can already see it. People at their computers, all over the country, just waiting for a fantastic property like yours to finally hit the listings so they can book their dream vacation.

You can feel the anticipation pulsing through your fingertips as you confidently click the publish button on your listing.

And then….

Wait for it….


What many owners fail to understand

Does this sound familiar? Unfortunately, too many hosts know this disappointment. It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of finally renting your property that many owners forget that just because you post your listing, doesn’t mean that anyone will engage it. There is a difference between listings that dominate the market and listings that get buried in the noise.

With the explosion of new hosts on Airbnb and VRBO, it’s more important than ever for you to know the essential ingredients of a GREAT listing. Without these foundational principles, you run the risk of getting lost in a crowded marketplace. On the flip side, the hosts who crush it know these secrets and their places are booked solid.

In this series, we want to share with you some of these principles of a KILLER LISTING to make sure your property attracts your ideal guest and gets the attention it deserves!

The most important part of your listing

When it comes to your property listing, it’s important to know that potential guests don’t experience every part of your listing at once. They experience your listing in layers. Each layer has the opportunity to engage viewers and draw them in more deeply until finally your home gets booked!

With this in mind, we can turn our attention to the very first thing that new guests will experience – YOUR FEATURED IMAGE.

No matter how great your word-smithing skills, no guests will ever click on your listing unless they see an image that is visually appealing. Your featured image is your first and best chance to become a guest magnet, enticing them to learn more about your property.

What goes into a great featured image?

There’s a lot that can be said about a great featured image. But here are 4 things to consider that we believe will dramatically improve engagement with your listing.

1.  Your image should be unique.

Take a moment and browse other listings in your area. We’re guessing you’ll notice an overwhelming amount of living room shots. Settling for an average, boring photo is the best way to get drown out when compared to other listings.

As you browse other listings in your area, what’s the common theme? Living rooms? Straightforward shots of the front of the home? What’s one part of your home that is visually captivating that might be different than what others in your area are doing?

This could be a room, a key feature, your design style, or even the style of photography.

Bad Example from Actual Listing: Bathroom shot that tells you nothing about the property.

Good Example from Actual Listing: Night shot of hot tub and house with mountains in the background.


2. Your image should highlight your home’s best features.

Not only should your featured image be unique, but it should draw attention to the very best qualities of your home.

If your home is located in the mountains, then consider a photo that shows your home tucked in the valleys with great views.

If it’s the striking interior design and layout, then find a way to show it off.

If your amenities are what attract your ideal guest, then show a photo of guests enjoying the hot tub out back.

Not sure what the best qualities are? Try reading through some of your previous reviews to see what your guests seem to like most!

3. Your image should be professional.

Listen…we know you love your iPhone. But unless you know how to work magic with your mobile device, we encourage you to leave the photography to the pros!

A pixelated, poorly lit, unedited photo of your home will not be helpful if you want guests to actually click on your listing.

Professional photographers not only have the right cameras and lighting gear, but they will be able to help you stage a shot to highlight the unique and best features of your home.

Bad Example from Actual Listing: Photo is blurry, uninteresting, and yes…it is sideways.

Good Example from Actual Listing: Photo is staged, clean, and well lit


4. Your image should be accurate.

That being said, you also want your photo to be true of the actual condition and qualities of your home.

Featuring an image that is overly photoshopped and manipulated might be able to get you clicks, but you run the risk of creating unrealistic expectations.

If the photos you post of your property are not consistent with what your guest will actually experience, they will likely be let down. This could result in a poor review which will hurt you in the long run.

Make sure the photos are high quality, but truthful of the experience you are offering!


Bottom line is, your featured image is the best place to start when improving your listing so guests will engage. But it doesn’t end here. Stay tuned for our next post in which we tackle YOUR HEADLINE.

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