1 Simple (But Forgotten) Image You MUST Include In Your Gallery

I was driving my friend’s truck because he’d just gotten laser eye surgery and the topic of vacation rentals came up…

Now I should warn you that he is the type of guy who typically prefers hotels to vacation rentals…

He likes knowing exactly what to expect, using his reward points, the room service, the concierge…etc.

And considering I am everyone’s “fearless vacation rental leader,” I felt obligated to argue the point and open his eyes to the potential of our burgeoning industry.

I reasoned how rentals are more economical, private, and authentic than traditional hotels…and he got all that.

But then he asked the following question, which kinda took me for a spin:

“Since the range of vacation rental properties is variant, why don’t any owners or managers show the floorplans of their property? That would, at least, help me decide whether this random home would be a good fit for my family.”

I was bamboozled!

In my 8 years of experience, I had never given decent thought to this idea (much less offered floorplans at my own properties).

And in some quick research, I found that only about 1 in every 30 properties I looked at on VRBO had floorplans!

So let’s backtrack a bit here…

When I conducted my last survey amongst vacation rental owners and managers, one thing was clear:

My subscribers want more insight about vacation rental travelers!

Now because this is such a new industry, very very little intel exists about what our past and future guests want…

And so I hope to start peeking inside the mind of the vacation rental traveler a little bit more for the following reason: if we can identify precisely what they want, we can serve it to them on a silver platter.

To get started, I ran a Zipinion poll, asking travelers “When choosing a vacation rental, would architectural floorplans of the property help make your decision any easier?”

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 10.15.07 AM

Not surprisingly, 71% of travelers said “Yes” citing reasons like: I have a large family and want to make sure there is plenty of room for all of us (ie. is the common room big enough for group activities?)”

And “floorplans would be helpful because some properties say they are suites when they’re really just a large room with a king bed and sofa bed and kitchen with no dividing walls.”

And “Sometimes photos of a place can be deceiving in terms of size (make things appear larger than they really are), and so the floorplans would be an objective piece of information that couldn’t be altered to deceive me.”

So that much is clear: posting floorplans is a great way to give your rental the marketing edge it deserves…

But what if the floorplans for your home aren’t readily available or in digital format?

Not to worry, because one of my subscribers, David Angotti of SmokyMountains.com has the solution on every single property page of his site!

Check out the 3d renderings he had commissioned on the cheap:

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 11.06.54 AMScreen Shot 2014-02-15 at 2.57.52 PM

When I first asked how he thought of using floorplans in his marketing material, David said this:

“When we would speak with potential travelers on the phone it quickly became apparent that they want to dream about their upcoming trip and that dream includes visualizing where people will sleep, eat, and be entertained. And so floorplans answer many of the questions in a graphically appealing way that makes the guest want to visit the property. Whether the guest is a mother wanting to know where her children will sleep or a travel coordinator trying to figure out the number of people a dining area will seat, the floor plans will answer those questions. We have found that the 3d floor plans boost conversion rates by approximately 7% and attribute that to answering questions that many times a guest might not even know to ask.”

This goes perfectly in-line with my Zipinion survey results above…

But I so loved David’s reasoning that I wanted to know how he had these floorplans made (so the rest of us can do the same thing)!!!

“We spoke with several US design agencies who wanted between $1,000 and $3,000 to design a 3D floor plan for an average property. While this might make sense for a hotel with hundreds of rooms using several layouts, each one of our units is unique and requires its own design [And not to mention a limited marketing budget]. Next, we began to scour freelance sites and ultimately found several talented designers on www.oDesk.com that were willing to design the floor plans for around 10% of the US agency price (that’s $100!!!). However, it is important to note that specific instructions including a hand-drawn floor plan with measurements as well as photos will be needed to get a final deliverable that is high quality. Once you create the job on the freelancer site, interview five to ten talented freelancers (look at their portfolios) and choose one based on experience and price.”

Further, David has offered up precisely what he posted on oDesk as the sample job in order to get the right result:

“We have a 2200 Square Foot, three-story cabin that we are needing a 3D floorplan created for. This is the property:


We will provide a similar 2D floorplan, notes, and a hand-sketch of the floorplan complete with the walls, doors, furninture, appliances, etc. In addition, we will provide a creative brief.

We want 3D renderings (not 2D). We only want to work with contractors capable of producing this quality level.

At a minimum, the project deliverables will include a high quality jpeg.

Thanks for taking the time to apply for our job — we look forward to working with you!”

So there you have it!

Including floorplans is not only what travelers want. It’s what they need!

And getting them done for less than the price of one night’s rental?

Well that’s a hands-down no-brainer in my book!

Thanks to David for this awesome insight that we can all use to generate more bookings!


About the Author Matt Landau

Matt Landau is the Founder of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog and the Inner Circle, two online resources dedicated to helping vacation rental owners and managers generate more bookings. Google+ | More Posts (230)

  • disqus_gWoRu7IWff

    What a great idea. Thanks for the tip.

  • Linda

    Interesting! we have 2D floorplans on our website. From the websites stats I can see that hardly anyone looks at them. I guess a lot of people have a hard time understanding 2D floorplans. I think the 3D’s are a great idea, will definitely look into it!

    • loscuatrotulipanes

      Yes would be great to hear the response from guests about 3D vs 2D for sure, Linda. Please report back!

  • tdistinguishedg

    Great idea Matt. I also really like the idea of including a site plan especially when the property is located in a condo complex. Not all locations are created equally.

    • loscuatrotulipanes

      100% agree. My other initial thought was to approach the local architecture undergrad student for a little project. Probably could get it done for free…

      • Doug Johns

        Why not just pay for it? Like good quality photographs, I can never understand why people cheap out. Even “undergrads” need to eat.

        • loscuatrotulipanes

          Good point Doug. I’m with you!

  • kalli

    Yes, one of my properties is 5 bedrooms and attracts multiple families. I found floor plans essential for their planning. So I have provided them with every inquiry.

    • loscuatrotulipanes

      Love this Kalli! Great goin!

  • CoquetCottages

    Hi Matt, thanks, great article as always! We’ve included 2D floorplans on our website for the last 15 years and they are appreciated – the feedback we receive is very positive and they do indeed help people decide to book. As you say, people want to know more about the property than photos and description alone – where the bathrooms are in relation to the bedrooms, where grannie will be sleeping in relation to the young grandchildren, which bedrooms are on the ground floor, etc. The 3D plans look super and we may eventually invest in upgrading to them, but will stick with our 2D plans for now. We draw them up ourselves using a very simple to use online tool from http://www.Metropix.co.uk (I think they do 3D plans too but I’m not keen on Metropix’s design). It is easy, takes around 15 minutes per plan and costs around £9 for each one, which can be published in several formats, pdf, gif, etc. There are also features you can choose to include, such as pop up photos, etc. Here’s a link to one of our pages containing a plan: http://www.coquetcottages.co.uk/lyndhurst/index.html This might be a more cost effective option for some property owners.

    • loscuatrotulipanes

      Terrific suggestion Julie! Looking forward to hearing back from some subscribers who go with this option!

  • Kona Sunsets

    What a great idea. Always looking for ways to help our clients make decisions. Will be giving this a try in the next week. Appreciate all the ideas and tips you give Matt!

    • loscuatrotulipanes

      Sure thing Kona! Report back with updates please!!!

  • C2Lodging


    Thanks for another eye opener.

    Attached is a plan a tenant did in one of my long-term rentals using an app on her Ipad called “Room Planner” by Chief Architect http://roomplanner.chiefarchitect.com/ . I was going to use it to plan room colors, decorating, etc. and did NOT think of posting it on my site to allow my potential guests to envision themselves in the space; a mistake soon to be remedied.

    It is currently free (normally $9.99) for download in the Apple app store, but cannot find it in Google for the Android (my foo is weak in that site). For less than $3 using in-app purchases you can completely render your home, manipulate it to display colors, designs, etc. and share using several different views. If you have one of these bad boys, Disto Laser D510 (E7500) or D810, you can knock it out pretty fast. I imagine that would be very useful for someone who has several rentals

    I can totally see using this as a competitive advantage both in the long-term and short-term market.

    If you are ever in Alaska, please stop by.

    Happy travels,


    • loscuatrotulipanes

      Yet another wonderful tip, thanks Mike!

  • I use floor plans for many of my rentals, and think it is a great added value for the rental. This is also why I do many “walk through” videos – to show the real layout of the condo.

    Depending on where your VR is and what type (condo vs. SFH) many developers are required to have the declaration or public report (Hawaii) that show a site plan. The site plan may not be your exact unit, but another in the same tier or layout could be helpful too.

    • loscuatrotulipanes

      Great tips Matt! Can you link to one of your walk-throughs?

      • Guest

        Hi Matt, I’d love to share a video link. One of my more recent videos of a walk through: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9A78A5wmI58&list=UUrRhOucZqE-Ca9neWc6dSDg&feature=share&index=1.

      • Hi Matt, sure I’d love to share a video walk through. Here is one on Maui at Ekahi Village: http://youtu.be/9A78A5wmI58

        • loscuatrotulipanes

          Great job Matt! Looks like this was done pretty much on your own, yes? (ie. No expensive camera?)

          • Thanks Matt. The 53D video was done with a DSLR. I’ve used my iPhone 5S for short “here I am in the middle of town at a great restaurant video” and that works great. Bottom line, you’re right. You don’t need expensive equipment to do video!

  • There’s a free 3D modeling program called Sketchup that’s quite popular in the design world. Google used to own it, now it’s owned by Trimble. It’s pretty easy to use and there are resources where you can download free furniture, appliances, windows, etc and drop them in to your layouts. For those owners who are techy and like playing with new software, it might be a good thing to try out. Or maybe it would be a fun project to “outsource” to the kids… just a thought!

    • loscuatrotulipanes

      Great tip Kevin. Gonna go take a spin of Trimble this mornin…

  • 2VRowner

    Love it! Had never thought about it, but this will be great especially for our three-level home, now to get all those measurements . . .

  • marc ribail

    amazing quality rendering!!! we work with 2D but this 3D is definitely another level and would work amazingly. Thanks. for sharing. Marc

    • loscuatrotulipanes

      Agreed Marc! Send over your stuff once it’s complete?

  • Pingback: At A Glance: February News For Vacation Rental Owners | Vacation Rental Owners Blog()

  • Sandra

    This has long been on my to-do list and other folks have given invaluable tips and links. I’m extremely low-tech and the easier the better especially when it’s free. I’m starting out and am grateful for all the help, many thanks to all.

    • Matt (Himself)

      Great Sandra! Let us know when yours are finished?

  • 2D Animation

    The Cheesy Animation specialists in 3D Walkthrough,3D Exterior Design – Rendering, 3D Interior Design – Rendering, video with profile content for Store video posters.

    visit us : http://www.thecheesyanimation.com/

  • Ciao Matt,

    Thanks for sharing your ideas to us! Your blogs helped me a lot in deciding to go back to this industry. I was doing this thing here in Rome year 2004 before I heard Homeaway, Flipkey etc. But I stopped in 2007 until I came across your blogs last December.

    Maybe I can help also some Homeowners who need simple 3D Presentations for their properties. Please check my pics below (I got inquiries in an hour after I post these on airbnb and flipkey as primary photo). If these are good enough, just pm me on FB or email newrente@gmail.com.

    However, I need to ask some Euros for my time and effort and for 2 days supply of cappucino 🙂 , It is €80 only for these type of design. My wife is studying Interior Design. She is the one involved in this design business, mine is only for fun 🙂 Grazie a tutti!

    • Ralph M

      Nino are you still doing this?

      • Nino

        Ciao Ralph. Yes I still do it.

        • Matt (Himself)

          Nino, did you make any more for clients? Would be curious to see the results!

  • kirsty

    Can you tell me who did these plans they look amazing we want to use them for our site? Thanks

    • Matt (Himself)

      Kristy, I would ask David (the owner of the property) using David [at] smokymountains.com

  • Hi Matt,

    I highly appreciate you post which nicely explains about 3d modelling and i thought that 3d modelling is the new way of floor plan designing.
    Many thanks for the post and keep posting this kind of nice stuff.

  • Nicky Visrez

    Just like to add a quick comment into this discussion. My company has developed a production platform for 3D Floorplans for the Hospitality sectors at prices that make sense for any operator. Samples of the work can be viewed on our site along with the process.


  • Tuomas Aarni

    CubiCasa announces Floor Plan App for Airbnb/VR hosts, sign up and get one free! http://www.cubi.casa/airbnb/