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RISMEDIA, March 27, 2009-As the saying goes, a picture is worth 1,000 words. Photos are arguably the single most important part of your vacation rental listings. And yet, homeowners don’t always give them the attention they deserve. If you’re not carefully staging your rooms before you photograph them, your photos probably aren’t as compelling as they should be.

Here are 5 key things you should do to create the best possible vacation rental ad:

1. Get organized. “Make sure the room is clean, organized, and everything is in its place,” says Karpinski. “Then think about what you can do to make it look even better. You might put out some fresh flowers, let in some natural light, or start a fire in the fireplace. If you still aren’t sure whether your photos are a success, show them around to friends and family and ask what they like or dislike.”

2. Words are important too. Adjectives such as “nice,” “gorgeous,” and “cozy” are among the most overused words in the world of vacation rental ad copy. So, when writing or revamping your ad, choose adjectives that describe your second home to a tee. For example, instead of “nice” you might say your home is “picturesque,” or instead of saying your oceanfront patio is “cozy” you might say it’s “idyllic.”

Your headline should be your most carefully crafted section, says Karpinski. If you’re using,, or, it might be the first thing a traveler sees. Just like the headline of a print advertisement, your property headline should generate interest in your vacation home in a few, well-chosen words.

“You might mention an upcoming holiday or event in your area, list your best amenities, or highlight a special offer or availability,” she suggests. “Just be sure you include some key search words for your area, and always proofread your ad before publishing it. You don’t want a typo causing you to miss out on valuable renters.”

3. Make sure your ad copy showcases everything you have to offer. You don’t want to leave anything out, so don’t try to jot down some copy off the top of your head. The next time you’re at your vacation home, go room-to-room and make a list of the items in each room. Be as specific as possible and don’t overlook things that you think might be common features.

“If a vacationer with small kids doesn’t see ‘dishwasher’ listed as an amenity for your home, they might skip right over you,” she warns. “And don’t forget to cover your outdoor amenities. Patio furniture and a grill can be huge draws, especially at a time when people might balk at spending a lot of money on restaurant meals.”

4. Create a video tour of your home. The next time you visit your rental property, make a home tour video that shows each room and the outside of the property. Some portal websites, like, allow you to post videos directly on your listing’s page. If that’s not an option, you can always create your own channel on YouTube devoted solely to your rental home videos.

“Video can be a great marketing tool,” says Karpinski. “They let travelers see the layout of your home, the bed setup, and the size of the rooms. Your video will reduce the amount of time you spend answering questions via email or phone calls. Once travelers have taken the time to view the video tour, your inquiries will be more qualified and your travelers may be more inclined to book.”

5. Resist the urge to show off your cleverness by naming your home. Many vacation rental owners are tempted to come up with a cutesy name for their property. If you purchase an older home and it’s already named, you should probably stick with the status quo. Otherwise-unless your name is very distinctive and creative-don’t invite trouble. Not only do names rarely help with your marketing efforts, they might actually harm them.

“‘The Barefoot Inn’ might lead people to think you are a bed and breakfast,” Karpinski points out. “Then, they’ll be irked when you’re not.

Christine Karpinski is director of Owner Community ( for and author of How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner, 2nd Edition: The Complete Guide to Buy, Manage, Furnish, Rent, Maintain and Advertise Your Vacation Rental Investment.