5 Airbnb Photo Tips For More Reservations

5 Airbnb Photo Tips For More Reservations
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Photos are as important to Airbnb listings as marshmallows and chocolates are to graham crackers—without that gooey, attractive, melty filling, who will want to take a bite? If you want to influence Future Potential Guests (FPGs) to book your listing, photos will be the most important first impression you can establish. Said differently: They’re very, very important! Below, I’ve assembled a list of the top five tips for having successful photos to represent your beautiful Airbnb listing.

Photos are as important to Airbnb listings as marshmallows and chocolates are to graham crackers. Click To Tweet


  1. Who Says Nothing Is For Free?

As soon as you have your listing up, the first thing you should do is sign up for free (yes, totally free!) professional photography from Airbnb. Second, immediately deactivate your listing. As a new host, you get an automatic boost in rankings for the first few weeks after you put your listing up! However, if you get a lot of views and no reservations, Airbnb deems your listing as low quality, and your listing goes to the end of the search results. You need to capitalize on that initial boost by having great photos that encourage FPGs to click on your listing!

Keep in mind, not all photographers are made equal. This is especially important when it comes to Airbnb photographers; it is a one-time free service with no revisions, so you will need to capitalize on your one opportunity at professional, free photos. Now, while 90% of my own encounters have been with wonderful, creative, and experienced photographers, occasionally you will find (as I have) that there are some who miss the mark. Ask to see the photos during the shoot; it is better to find out late than never if you will be unhappy! Twenty pictures emphasizing your ceiling over your appliances, furniture, and ambiance of your home will not leave a good impression, and you will end up having to hire a new photographer out-of-pocket to try again.

Note that when new photos are uploaded to your listing by Airbnb, the old photos will still remain. You will need to delete the old photos and rearrange the new photos as I will discuss below.

  1. Do Judge A Listing By Its Cover

Now that you understand the importance of photos to your listing, can you guess which photo is the most important? You guessed it! The first, or cover, photo is your invaluable first impression. This photo should be of a room that the guest is likely to spend a lot of their time in, or one that best represents the spirit of your home. Do you have an amazing living space or a luxurious bathroom? Does your futuristic kitchen scream, “Let’s have a dinner party”? Avoid photos that encourage suspicions, such as nondescript views from a balcony or dimly lit backyards, and put your best foot (photo!) forward; get your FPG excited to see what your listing has to offer!

Before a guest clicks on any listing, they will have seen at least a few other cover photos. Make it a great one!

Airbnb photo tip: Go on Airbnb as if you are a FPG and do a few varied searches to find out what cover photos your competition is using. Are there any consistent colors? Themes? Rooms? Let me show you what I mean…Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 2.52.59 PM

Clearly, there are more than a few backyard pools in Seminyak, Bali. This means having a pool is NOT a unique selling point, so consider how to make your cover photo stand out! Hot tub, anyone?

  1. First (Four) Impressions Matter.

Now that you have chosen an extraordinary cover photo, pay extra special attention to your main four photos! These are your best photos, one of each room, shown to your guest to get them excited about booking your place. The FPG will decide within the first 5-7 seconds to either eliminate your listing or keep it in the running, based on the cover and your first four photos. There are 3,000,000 (May, 2017) listings on AirBnB, and guests will look for any reason to narrow their choices.

There are over 3,000,000 Airbnb listings. You have 4 photos to capture a guest's interest. Click To Tweet

Below is a listing I optimized. Of these two sets of photos, which grabs your attention more?


Or, option 2?


  1. Batch ‘Em.

Keep in mind that the FPG will be looking at many listings with different layouts, and they have never been to your home before. Even though you may look at your amazing new photos and clearly picture your home, an FPG may get confused by similar rooms or different angles. Take your prospective guest on an organized, guided tour of your home by placing photos of the same room or space next to each other.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the photos below.

Bedroom 4Bedroom 2
Bedroom 3Bedroom 1

These photos came to me from a host seeking help optimizing his listing. Would you believe me if I told you these are four different bedrooms? This host originally had 79 photos in random order, making it very difficult for the guest to know what they were looking at. In the end, this host was left with 34 orderly, batched photos, where the guest could easily know what they were looking at!

Airbnb photo tip: More than 30 photos is overkill for 90%+ of Airbnb listings. Stick to around 25 photos maximum! If you have a one-story home with few separate rooms, consider 10-15 photos. Less is more!

Airbnb Photo Tip: More than 30 photos is overkill for 90% of Airbnb listings. Click To Tweet


  1. The Power of Captions.

Most pictures should have a caption, which will accomplish two goals.

One, explain to the guest where they are within the home, and create a physical sense of space. Similar to our “Batch ‘Em” principle, always assume that a FPG does not know what they are looking at, no matter how obvious it may be to you. Tell your guest about the decadent private bathroom attached to the master bedroom, or the French sliding doors that lead to your backyard garden! Label bedrooms and bathrooms to provide clarity!

Two, place the guest, psychologically, in each photo, and thus in your home. This is a twist on one of Robert Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion, commitment and consistency. Humans want to be consistent with their behavior, so if you place the guest psychologically in your home, their brain will start to think that they are already in your home! It is a small mind trick, and the reason many actors take on the personas of their on screen characters in real life. For example, imagine a photo of your backyard with a pool and lounge chairs, captioned, “Imagine yourself relaxing on the lounge chair, wine glass half full, surrounded by family and the smell of good BBQ on the grill!”

Place your guest, psychologically, in each of your Airbnb photos via the caption. Click To Tweet

Airbnb Photo Tip: Keep your captions to one line, otherwise, you risk having it overlap your actual photo which is aesthetically displeasing. See what I mean…

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 3.44.52 PM

Great Photos = More Bookings

Airbnb Photo Tip: Great Photos = More Bookings Click To Tweet

Optimizing your photos with free professional photography, a great cover photo, batched photos, first impression photos, and fun captions is a great first step in attracting more FPG to click and book your listing. If you’d like additional help, click me.

What Airbnb photo tips have worked for you and your listing?

I'm Danny, the Airbnb expert

About Danny Rusteen:

Starting in 2012, Danny has been an Airbnb employee, Superhost, and Airbnb property manager. Danny lives in Airbnbs (600 nights). As a guest, Danny has traveled to 29 countries and sifted through thousands of Airbnb listings, so he knows what makes a listing stand out and how to offer a world-class experience to your guest. Follow his journey.