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How to Become a Professional Lodging Photographer

By Ron Lee
Published: 02/21/17 Topics: AirBnB, Lodging Management, Marketing, Photography Comments: 0

Becoming a professional lodging photographer has never been easier.

All you need is a camera and business cards. Just put the words "Professional Photographer" on the cards and people will think you are a pro.

Can you imagine a doctor getting away with that? Would you go to a dentist who says, "I am a professional dentist" who didn't have the training? Yikes. Those people would be driven out of the industry.

Unfortunately, there have always been a greatly many people who love the idea of being an artist, a photographer. It sounds like such a great job. For Inns, Resorts & Vacation Rentals, photos are the way guests make instant decisions to view your property or pass on to the next.

No longer is it necessary to burn hundreds of dollars of physical film, toil in the dark room and only later learn if your photos were adequate. Now a good digital camera gives you a thumbnail view instantly that you can call "good enough."

But, great camera gear doesn't make you a true photographer any more than buying your new born child a piano and pronouncing them a "Concert Pianist."

Today, a new higher title has been added to the photography professional. Its called "High Dynamic Range," or HDR, and it is a vastly superior way of shooting, processing, and delivering world class photography. It is a requirement for almost all photos, but an absolute requirement for shooting interior architectural images.

HDR Photos are crisp, clean and brighter, but only enough to match what the human eye actually perceives. By comparison, non-HDR photos are fuzzy, bland, and actually underestimate and mis-represent the property.

Unfortunately, most professional photographers are no longer professional because they are more in love with being "Artists" than they are in spending thousands of hours mastering HDR.

That means more lodging operators are wasting lots of money hiring pros or don’t begin to understand HDR.

To see the difference between Pros and HDR Pros, all you have to do is spend a little time examining listings on your favorite websites like VRBO.com, Expedia.com, or even AirBnB.com.

A company called Evolve Vacation Rentals offers "Free Professional Photography" to property owners. Because Evolve does not have on site staff they must call any "professional photographer" they can find and hire them without realizing that non HDR photos are robbing their listings of maximum bookings.

Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, Vacation Rentals does the same thing. Their recent foray into Matterport 3D photos is a good start, but ignoring HDR still photos causes them to lose bookings.

Turnkey Rentals out of Austin is trying to take over the world, but right there on their home page are fuzzy, out of focus, non-HDR photos. How could a management company call themselves professional when the number one listing tool - photos - are all messed up?

All of these companies talk the professional photographer game, but non walk the walk. And all because they refuse to spend the slightly more money necessary to find and employ high level HDR photographers.

Ignoring the absolute requirement for HDR photos is like the proverbial canary in the coal mine. If your manager does not understand the difference between truly professional HDR photos and want to be professional photographers, what else don’t they understand?

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Author: Ron Lee – Not a Photographer, Signatour Photo Team
Blog #: 0521 – 02/21/17

Sponsor: Signatours Photo Team – It is not enough to have a camera and cards that say you are photographer. Today's technology demands study, practice and perfection along with an artists eye. Every Signatour photographer has all of those along with a support and professional staff to ensure the highest quality HDR photos. – Signatours.com

Best Halloween Advertising. Cheapest too.

By William May
Published: 10/31/15 Topics: Advertising, Marketing Comments: 0

For many years the Philadelphia Cheese Steak shop occupied a triangle corner on busy Madison Avenue on Seattle's Capitol Hill. It seemed to do well but changed hands a few times and gradually did the restaurant slow decline dance.

Meantime, just up the street the Bottle Neck bar opened and soon became a favorite hang out. When Philly closed, the proprietors - Erin Nestor and Rebecca Denk - grabbed the additional space and opened a nice neighbor burger joint. They called it "Two Doors Down" because, of course that is where it was.

Sometimes naming businesses and products is easy but often it is a long laborious chore. Who knows how the new restaurant got its name, but it is brilliant, memorable and fun. That fits the new decor and the food.

Halloween heavy traffic raced past Two-Doors, just as traffic always does, but ahead on the trek home cars were slowing and some pulling over to grab a burger.

All because someone, maybe the genius who named the restaurant, created a cheap but compelling reason to drop into the restaurant.

Pumpkins are cheap. A few orange LED Christmas type lights didn't break the bank. surely the staff had fun making them. Or maybe the customers made them. (What fun.)

Putting the pumpkins in the window would have worked, but simply putting them on the street made them impossible to miss. On this rainy dreary night. It was warm. It was compelling.

They must have sold far more burgers that night because who could resist?

Accepting expensive solutions from advertising experts can produce great results, but advertising is always trial and error no matter how well researched.

On the other hand, creative thinking always wins over new customers, makes existing customers smile and makes the cash register ring.

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Author: William May, MayPartners Advertising
Blog #: 0458 – 10/31/15

Sponsor: MayPartners – Pumping Advertising for decades but a new kinda marketing machine. Old fashioned marketing smarts with new technological know how. Our platform of constant promotion pumps up your sales. But you gotta call us now to start. – MayPartners.com

Expert Says Photos Best Return on Investment

By Joseph Romain
Published: 02/01/15 Topics: Marketing, Photography, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

In a recent blog post on his website VacationRentalMarketingBlog.com, Matt Landau proclaims professional photos to be the most effective marketing tools to increase bookings and revenue.

Landau says, "When you have limited resources, you must examine the return on investment (ROI) of everything you do." He then lists the Top 10 cost-effective Vacation Rental Marketing Activities.

Number one on his list is professional photos which he illustrates by providing a cost versus benefit graph clearly showing photos as the best investment.

Other steps, such as building a private website, increasing your paid listing rank, soliciting reviews and trying to speak with guests by phone also are beneficial.

While hiring a professional photographer is indeed a good idea, to this day many professionals have still not discovered or mastered the art of creating High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos.

Without that even the best cameras, a photographic education and lots of experience prohibit the photographer from creating truly accurate photos such as those HDR can create.

HDR photos are not easy and they are not cheap, but the benefit of having compelling and accurate photos attracts more guests, more bookings and more revenue.

Landau posits an analogy about whether a government should invest $10,000 to cure ten Malaria patients or the same amount to save a single AIDS patient. Tough call of course, but it illustrates that spending money on great photos is by far the most cost efficient treatment for vacation rental marketing.

Matt Landau is the Founder of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog, an online resource for vacation rental owners and managers. He is also the owner of Los Cuatro Tulipanes vacation rentals in Panama, and a columnist for HomeAway and FlipKey, the world's two largest vacation rental marketplaces.

http://www.vacationrentalmarketingblog.com/top_10/

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Author: Joseph Romain – Creative Director, Signatour Photo Team
Blog #: 0003 – 02/01/15