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Why You Need To Charge More When Photographing An AirBnb Or Similar Vacation Rental

Why You Need To Charge More When Photographing An AirBnb Or Similar Vacation Rental

I constantly see real estate photographers charging the same rate for AirBnb type shoots as they do for classic listing photos. This is a major mistake and one of the many ways that we as real estate photographers leave money on the table.

This article will explain why the value of photos used for AirBnb type rental properties is actually much higher than listing photos. Hopefully by reading this, you’ll be convinced and confident enough to charge for the true value of your images.

The Main Differences Between AirBnb Type Photos And Listing Photos

The easiest way to think about the differences between the value of vacation rental images and listing images is to consider how they are used and how long they will be used for.

Listing photos are a one-and-done type of photography. By one-and-done I mean that they serve one purpose. They are meant to highlight a house for sale and once that house is sold they are no longer needed.

Maybe the house will get passed on to another realtor and you’ll be able to resell (license) the photos to the next realtor, but this isn’t very common. At the end of the day, the photos are meant to sell the home and that’s it.

Vacation rental photos are the exact opposite of a one-and-done as they are meant to be used for years and years as a marketing and advertising tool. The images are very likely to be the main marketing plan and advertising tool for the owners of the vacation rental.

These photos will be used for years to get people to rent the property for a vacation. This means that, as opposed to listing photos, your images will still be in use and highly important years down the line.

This clearly shows that they have more value due to their longevity and therefore, the photographer should receive a higher compensation.

Also, if you have ever read AirBnb’s professional photography policy, you’ll know that real estate shoots and AirBnb shoots are approached very differently. If you haven’t, give it a read and notice where they recommend photographing artwork and barbecues.

Real estate photography is meant to show off a home and how it’s laid out, as opposed to AirBnb photography which is meant to show off an experience. Real estate is more like documenting a space and AirBnb is more like a lifestyle shoot.

Understanding Licensing

For starters, if you aren’t having your clients sign off on some sort of contract or agreement, you probably should start. Many real estate photographers work with a simple business plan and don’t require that their clients sign any sort of contract.

While this works fine for some, it leaves too much unknown for both you and your client. Something along the lines of “the photographer retains ownership of the photos and you (the client) are not allowed to re-sell the photos” should be stated at a minimum.

Usually with realtors this isn’t a big deal since they’ll only need the photos to sell the property and then will forget about them completely. This is not at all the case with vacation rental properties though.

AirBnb’s and other vacation rentals will need to use the images for a long time and for various purposes. Since there is such a long usage window, there is a much higher likelihood of a contract being needed to clear up questions for both parties.

Licensing the photos to an AirBnb owner needs to come with a standard licensing agreement to make sure that they are in full understanding that you are the owner of the images that they will be using for the next several years.

This longer lifetime of the photos and need for proper licensing terms to be stated and agreed upon again shows the increased value of vacation rental photos as opposed to listing photos.

Common Arguments Against Charging More

The most common argument I see always goes something like this: “It’s the same thing and takes the same amount of time. Why would I charge more when I’m not doing more?”

This argument fails to understand that the monetary value is not the time spent on site or the difficulty of the job, but instead it’s how the images will be used. Usage rights should never be given away for free or left unstated.

Using photos for 5 years needs to cost more than using the photos for a few months. Using photos to advertise a vacation rental that generates perpetual income needs to cost more than using photos to sell a home once.

Another argument I see is: “Other photographers in my area charge the same as their real estate prices, so I need to as well to stay competitive.”

Now, I can sympathize with this argument as most real estate photographers have been in this situation. However, the race-to-the-bottom mentality doesn’t help anyone. In fact, it devalues real estate photography as an entire profession.

The best way to combat this is by developing your skills as a photographer. If you take better photos than the person that keeps lowering their prices, then you’ll be easily able to justify your higher prices.

There is legitimate research that shows that low prices are not always best and can actually hurt your brand as a whole. Charging more is an easy way to show the owners of vacation rentals that you are the best for the job.

How Much To Charge For AirBnb And Vacation Rental Photography

So, as you can probably guess, there is no one answer to this question. It depends on both your market and your skill level.

However, it’s generally accepted that you should be charging at least twice as much as you would for regular real estate listing photography. Some real estate photographers charge three or even four times their regular rate.

Whatever you choose to charge, keep this article in mind and make sure you are being fairly compensated. If you charge $200 for a real estate shoot, $400 is perfectly acceptable for an AirBnb shoot.

Be confident in both your photos and your pricing! And please, let all stop the race-to-the-bottom pricing model.

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