Commercial Photography at The Bay Restaurant

The Bay is another excellent establishment from restaurateur Jim Shirley, who also owns and operates Great Southern, Meltdown on 30A, and 45 Central Wine Bar in Seaside. The Bay is a special place at the foot of the 331 bridge in South Walton County, Florida – it has boat parking, a sandy beach, live music, rustic decks, excellent bar(s), and of course amazing food.

 

Alys Beach Photos

I’ve had the privilege of photographing Alys Beach from the very beginning and watching the new town grow. It’s an endless source of fascination with the beautiful natural landscape, construction, and finished product.

 

South Walton Aerial Photography & Video

Aerial Photography and Aerial Video by Moon Creek Studios available for real estate and business, events, and documentaries from stock collection or assignment.

Carmike Theater at Sandestin

A recent commercial photo shoot for the architecture firm, Artech – it’s a beautiful and cutting edge building. Getting our own theater in South Walton is a big deal and Carmike did it right.

We all have fond memories of going to the movies as a child. Imagine the lucky kids who get to make their memories here!

 

Vacation Rental Owners

Here are some tips and ideas for promoting your vacation rental property. Whether you have a property management company or not, you have to promote and advertise to get booked and generate the maximum income from your vacation rental.

These days you have to market your property on your own, above and beyond what any management company (if you have one) might be spending. your marketing money should bring many extra bookings, making it well worth the investment.

Hire a professional to produce excellent photos of your place – this is the most important thing you can do. If a good photo is worth a thousand words, then a quality set of pictures pictures is worth a thousand bookings. Poor pictures will cost you bookings! Rare is the owner (or owner’s son, uncle, or friend) who can make professional quality images of your rental. Get at least 24, and include neighborhood amenities (pool, golf, beach, parks, etc.).

Get yourself a VRBO number. Go to www.VRBO.com and make a listing for your property. There are lots of other vacation rental sites, but VRBO is the grandaddy and has lots of traffic. Use the maximum number of allowed photos, and seriously consider adding a video. Put your video on Youtube, because renters will also find you directly on that site. And Youtube is owned by Google so videos are indexed and come up on Google searches.

Write a great description, making it light, breezy, and personal – let your enthusiasm for your place shine through. Use words like “charm, family, us, we, ours, you, yours, home, light, fun, warm, cheerful, soft, fuzzy, grand, and sunny”. Do not use words like “boasts, spectacular, magnificent, unique, development, condo, house, unit, remarkable, or glorious”. Do not exaggerate how close you are to the beach. Never call a sofa bed comfortable (although kids love ‘em)!

Don’t stop there – get yourself a professional web site. Include photos, video, map, testimonials, contact info, description, area info and links, etc. It can be hard to find the web site name you want, like BestBeachRental.com, but it isn’t hard to find a good one either. Keep it short, sweet, and unique, like BlueBeachCottage.com. There are some pretty good web site template services available online but they still take a bit of time and skill to end up with a quality site.

Once you have your web site up and running, link to it from VRBO and any other sites you can. Promote to Google and other search engines. Consider social media like Facebook and Twitter, taking care not to spam and risk getting banned or shunned. If you participate and offer something of value to travel forums, they are often a good place to generate interest. Check out the vacation rental forum at http://www.SoWal.com/bb as an example.

Keep a good list of Email addresses of past renters, and prospects. After a few years of good management and promotion, you should have a lot of repeat renters. Consider offering discounts to repeat renters. Contact renters after they return home from your place and get feedback. Offer them a discount if they want to go ahead and book for the next year. Word of mouth is very important. Happy repeat renters will sell your rental to friends, family, and coworkers. Keep a guest book in your rental and make sure there is a column for people to write their Email address.

A printed brochure is still a good idea – whether a one-page flyer or a glossy tri-fold. Put them out at the office, the neighborhood grocery, your church or school, etc. Mail them to renters and prospects. Keep a supply in your rental itself so renters can take them home. if you have a management company, make sure to keep them well stocked in their office.

All of these items have become necessary as owners and agents have become web and marketing savvy. The bottom line is that to keep ahead of your competition you have to do your own marketing or hire a pro to do it for you.

Happy Renting! Don’t forget to take a vacation for yourself every now and then.

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Yes – we can do most of this stuff for you, as we have since 1998. Check out our services.

Fly Fishing Western Lake

Crossing Western Lake on Scenic 30A nearly every day I am lucky to see incredible beauty – different water conditions, different skies, different light – always different and always beautiful.

Often there are folks on the bike path along the lake and people on the lake in kayaks, paddle boards, canoes…

I spotted this gentleman practicing the art of fly fishing, wading in the mostly-shallow lake. I saw him hook one small one which  looked like a bream or other panfish. Some of the different fish in the lake are redfish, largemouth bass, speckled trout, and other saltwater species which travel in and out of the coastal dune lakes as they periodically open to gulf. The lakes provide an excellent breeding and hunting ground. Many juveniles grow and mature in the relative protection of the lakes before returning to the gulf at maturity.

The lakes are also home to alligators, blue crabs, and many species of frogs and snakes. Sharks have also been spotted on rare occasion, along with a sea turtles washed in to the lake outlets during storms. Many different species of birds live arounfd the lakes, feeding on fish and other animals. Ducks can be seen swimming in the lakes during colder months. There are plenty of ospreys and a few bald eagles.

Learn more about the Coastal Dune Lakes of South Walton.

SoWal Pitcher Plants

North American Pitcher plants are carnivorous plants native to South Walton County in Florida. Their prey-trapping mechanism features a deep cavity filled with liquid known as a pitfall trap. Deadly and beautiful – they are rare and worth seeking out to get a good look. Learn more at Wikipedia>

What is SoWal?

It’s a place and a state of mind. Some of us are on “SoWal Time” – it’s just “beach time” in South Walton, Florida. They say things move slower in the South. Well, they move even slower on a Southern beach. Nice days are the days you call in sick. There are rays and fish to be caught.

SoWal.com is one of the main products of Moon Creek Studios – check it out.

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SoWal is made up of the Florida panhandle beach communities of South Walton County on the Emerald Coast between Destin and Panama City Beach – from east to west: Inlet Beach, Rosemary Beach, Seacrest, Alys Beach, WaterSound Beach, Camp Creek, Seagrove Beach, Seaside, WaterColor, Grayton Beach, Blue Mountain Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Dune Allen, Sandestin, Miramar Beach, Seascape. Directly east is Carillon Beach and Panama City Beach, and directly west is Destin. Point Washington, south of the bay north of Hwy 98, and Freeport north of the bay round out SoWal.

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Why is the sand so white?
The Beaches Of South Walton are made of clear quartz sand eroded and washed down rivers from the Appalachian Mountains. Quartz, a hard, durable mineral, survives transport by fast-moving streams, while softer minerals break down and dissolve, or remain suspended in the water. Sedimentary particles available for deposition along the Gulf Coast are thus pure white quartz.

A sand dune today was once, thousands of years ago, a mountain top near the Georgia-South Carolina border. Swept into the Gulf of Mexico, powerful currents pushed the quartz sand westward. The stunning white beaches extend from Cape San Blas in the east, to the Gulf Islands National Seashore of Mississippi to the west.