I’ve been witness to Alys Beach construction and town evolution since the beginning in 2004. As the principle photographer of Alys Beach construction, architecture, sales, rentals and events, I thankfully get to enjoy every nook and cranny of Alys Beach, and the secluded courtyards of every home are unique and always surprising.
I was honored to be asked to contribute three dozen photos for the book, Reflections On Seaside by acclaimed architect, author, and urbanist Dhiru A. Thadani. The book celebrates the 40th anniversary of the town of Seaside, the place that has inspired countless designers, architects, urban planners, and everyday citizens in the search for the ideal hometown. The work is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Visions of Seaside, published in 2013.
I love spending time outdoors and could spend a whole lifetime taking photos of wildlife. It takes patience and most of the shots I get are just lucky since I don’t have as much time outdoors as I would like.
Coyotes, foxes, deer, turtles, raccoons, alligators, dolphin, rays, and even manatees can be spotted in SoWal. The easiest wildlife to spot are the birds that are everywhere all the time. Shore birds are fun to see and seem very unusual if you don’t live at the beach. Herons and pelicans are fascinating to watch as they interact with the environment. People say pelicans aren’t so pretty but watching them glide in formation inches over the waves is one of the most beautiful sights you will ever see.
We have black bears and getting a photo of one in the dunes would be the ultimate South Walton wildlife pic in my book. If you’re lucky you’ll spot a bald eagle or tow, usually in the less developed areas and around our coastal dune lakes. The occasional alligator in the surf is also a wow moment! The bull gators get a little crazy in mating season and sometimes wander into the surf.
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.
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.
Aerial Photography and Aerial Video by Moon Creek Studios available for real estate and business, events, and documentaries from stock collection or assignment.
Digital Graffiti is a great festival in Alys Beach, Florida and is always fun and challenging to shoot. Digital artists from around the world come to project their creations on the town walls.
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!
Here are some tips and ideas for promoting your vacation rental property. Whether you have a property management company or not, the goal is to maximize bookings and generate the maximum income from your vacation rental.
These days the competition is fierce and marketing starts the show. Your marketing money should bring many extra bookings, making it well worth the investment.
Hire a professood photional to produce excellent photos of your place – this is the most important thing you can do. If a go is worth a thousand words, then a quality set of pictures pictures is worth a thousand bookings. Poor pictures will cost you bookings! Get at least 50, 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)!
You might want to 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.
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.
Happy Renting! Don’t forget to take a vacation for yourself every now and then.
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.