The question is, do Airbnb hosts who use professional photography get more bookings?

According to research published by Airbnb themselves, hosts who make use of professional photography earn on average 40% more revenue from their listings than those hosts who don’t (you can look up this stat online). The increase in revenue is down to a couple of factors, firstly the hosts can ask higher rates for their spaces, and secondly because the listing will get more views (25% more views based on Airbnb stats) there is an increased likelihood of a guest making a booking based on what they see from the listing’s photos.

I have seen this in action as a former Airbnb host myself. My photos are what enticed guests to the little garden cottage we used to rent out as an Airbnb. I have also had clients tell me that as soon as they started using my photos of their listings they went from getting hardly any bookings in a month to literally having no spots left to rent. Of course this isn’t true for every place, mainly because bookings will depend on seasonality, the size of the property, as well as its location (not forgetting that price does factor into it too), but on the whole if you have crummy photos for your listing, are you going to attract the guests you want?

Think like a guest; would you bother booking a place that has photos poorly taken with a cellphone or would you rather look for a place where the host has at least invested in photography that properly shows off what is on offer? The host using poor photos is probably also going to be cutting corners elsewhere too. Would you want to stay in their space if this is how they operate?

Airbnb does have a professional photography program in major centres around the world and they have added me to their list of suppliers. The way this works is that if a host doesn’t want to outlay the money for professional photos upfront, they will arrange the photography for you and then deduct it from your future payouts. They say that 75% of hosts will cover the cost of the shoot with just a single night’s booking, so as a host you really don’t have anything to lose if you take up that option.

The only problem I have with this program (and I have a few shoots done directly for Airbnb under my belt), is that they insist on editing the photos themselves. This aspect is probably outsourced to an editing company in an Asian country and to be honest, while the end results are generally acceptable, they aren’t quite up to the same standard of editing that I would produce if you commissioned me directly. You’d also get your images back a lot faster with me than you would using their service. My average turnaround time from shoot to delivery is less than 24 hours whereas you will wait about 1-2 weeks should Airbnb drive the process.

The other downside to their program is that they will own the copyright to the images taken and here in South Africa under our somewhat outdated copyright laws this will prohibit you from using the same images on any other listing platform, such as or even your own website.

At the end of the day it is your property and you do have the freedom to choose what photos you want to use to promote your listing, so my advice is obvious: if you are a Durban area based Airbnb host engage with me directly and you will see why I get the Google reviews I do. :-)

Click here to see my holiday listings packages.