Airbnb steps up its game with professional photos

before and afterAirbnb has been in the process of rebuilding its reputation after a user’s particularly terrible experience went viral. Since then the home rental service has been in clean up mode, which has included new security features and extended safety guarantees.

Now Airbnb is launching its professional photography program which sends a practiced photographer to the location you wish to list for rent on the site. Airbnb now boasts more than 1,000 photographers in 383 cities who are ready and willing to literally present your place in the best light possible—for free.

Airbnb has been building its photography program for the more than a year. Photographers are hired on a freelance basis (the site is still looking for interested parties, so visit this page if that happens to be you) and those with backgrounds in real estate or architectural photography are preferred. A job listing on a Flickr discussion board said the jobs pays $40-$50 a shoot and you can book as many appointments as your want or are able to, although it also mentions “assignments will be given to you sporadically” and that you must “respond to an assignment within 48 hours.”

The benefit this will give the site’s users is obvious: Bonus security. Every site that has opted to be professionally photographed (by what we assume are well-screened employees) will get a verified ribbon on their listing, letting potential renters knows that what you see is indeed what you get. And of course, some extra flash can help you snag more renters as well.

Airbnb says that a listing with verification and professional photos will get booked 2.5 times more frequently than one without, and on average a host will rake in over $1,000 more in bookings. Those are some lofty claims, but given consumers’ heightened safety awareness and the site’s increasingly professional-looking listings, this could transform it from an after-thought to a real commitment for users. 

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