Watermark Protection: 2 Ways Watermarking Can Help Avoid Vacation Rental Photo Theft

How can a watermark protect your vacation rental photos? 

Guest post from Vacation. Rentals – a premier website designed for homeowners and property managers to list their homes for nightly rent.

The rise of social media, e-commerce, and the internet paved the way for con artists looking to scam unsuspecting online customers of their money. One area where scammers have achieved success in is hunting for property rentals. As the owner of the property, securing your photos using watermark protection is vital to prevent the exploitation of your property online. One of the most replicated, successful, and continuing scams going around nowadays is the vacation rental fraud.

The process is basic enough – scammers look for a home on a listing website like Zillow, create an account on Craigslist, write some text, copy the images, and upload a counterfeit contact. To innocent travellers looking to cash in on a too good to be true opportunity, they ignorantly send wire transfers, cashiers checks, perform a PayPal transaction, and in some worse cases, even their personal checks. When the scammer has collected the money, they disappear like a Nigerian bank record of your long lost family member.

Craigslist is An Excellent Tool – For Products

If you type in “Vacation Rental Scams” in Google, you will get somewhere around 3 million-plus results. The scammers are unrelenting and will stalk every single detail available to them to list “their” vacation properties. Craigslist is the perfect venue for this kind of thing. No cost, no identification, no problems. Accessed by literally millions and millions of people daily, Craigslist is the perfect setting for scammers.

To be fair, Craigslist also has legitimate postings, and that is why Craigslist is apprehensive to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Taking reasonable measures by ensuring watermark protection for your property photos is one approach that could frustrate and thwart scammers from targeting your holiday home.

What is a Watermark?

Watermarks are digital imprints overlapped on existing images. Usually, a watermark is normally and unobtrusive transparent (to not obstruct the overall photo) Here is a sample of a plain photo without watermark protection.

Here is the same photo with a watermark and no transparency. And this is a watermark with 20% transparency.

You could see from the 3 images above, the last two of them have an indelible mark that is easily detected and nearly impossible to remove. In other words, you have made it quite clear to everyone who sees this image that you’re really the owner and that you could easily flag and identify the content that is yours.

Ensure Watermark Protection

When we set out to build our website, the very first thing we did was to ensure watermark protection through automatic watermarks. We did this by coding on the site and would ensure that the photos uploaded to our server were digitally engraved with our marketed logo and provided some genuineness to the photos shown on our site. Craigslist does not have this feature, and fraudsters know and love it.

If they could get their listings past the flagged bots, they will be halfway through their task. Now all that is left is to persuade the unsuspecting Joe Traveler that this is a bargain they can’t miss. When watermarking your vacation home for rent photos, you provide a sense of “ownership” to them and provide credibility to yourself and to your customers.

Work Smarter – Not Harder

There are numerous methods of ensuring watermark protection. If you are familiar with Photoshop, you could even go so far as to write a script to automate the process a little. For us, the easiest way by far that we found was Watermarquee.com. Instead of going through all the difficulties of setting up watermark scripts, location, scale, etc., Water Marquee has made watermark protection smooth and efficient all in one session.

The best aspect of the process is that their batch execution manages everything regardless of the size of the image you upload. Only point the logo (Ours is in PNG format) to the photo section you want, resize, set the transparency you want, and click Save. It takes about 2 minutes to take 15 pictures. Upon completion, Water Marquee will even merge everything into a zip file for you for easy transfer on to your hard drive.

Watermark as Theft Deterrence

Frankly, it is so easy for someone to steal an image these days. We’ve all heard horror stories about people stealing pictures of photographers and claiming that they were their own. I saw the images of friends stolen and sold for revenue or used to sell generic products. Some photographers choose whether to upload images in a higher resolution so that they fit the size specifications and are of greater quality for viewing. Honestly, I would like to resize to the lowest possible resolution to help avoid the reproduction of unlawful online prints.

If someone really tries to steal your photos online, they could, but do not give them an easy time. I see watermark protection as a form of basic theft deterrence.

Branding and Watermarking

Watermark protection not just to deter thieves; it is likewise important for recognition and identification from a business perspective. Even if you post at a lower resolution to prevent pictures from being printed, you would like the general public to know that you have taken a picture.

It’s your hard work, and you deserve credit for that. Considering how simple it is for photos to be shared and then gets viral, you want your brand and name to be linked to your images so that people could trace you as the owner. People and pages re-shared my photos without giving me credit. Without watermark protection, the world would not know I took those.

Ruin a Scammers Day

Scammers search for easy pickings. For what amounts to 5 minutes of effort on your part, you could prevent and thwart a scammer from an obvious target. Because Watermarquee is so affordable and simple to use, you owe it to yourself to try them out and take preventive steps to ensure watermark protection for your vacation rental photos.