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Virtual Tours: Naughty or Nice?

December 20 2010

Virtual tour on comp screenVirtual tour providers and virtual tours are all exactly the same, or are they?  Does it matter if you use one that offers free virtual tours or one that charges a monthly subscription?  Does it  matter if the virtual tour company is brand new or may claim to have 100,000 users?   Does it matter who owns it or what the company philosophy is? It does depend on “why” you want a virtual tourvirtual tour in the first place.

We are all being overwhelmed with choice these days, and real estate technology is no exception.  So, how do we choose which virtual tour provider to use?  Which virtual tour company or virtual tour service is naughty and which is nice?  Let’s take a closer look…

Most real estate agents want a virtual tour to do five things:

  1. Expose the property to more buyers
  2. Expose the agent to more sellers and buyers
  3. Show off the best features of the property
  4. Demonstrate to the seller that they are actively marketing the property
  5. Sell the home faster

Here are a few more reasons that may or may not come to mind:

  • Create more personal website traffic
  • Create more “Google Juice” to improve your website ranking
  • Build brand awareness and increase market share

Okay, we know what we want, but  how do we measure if our virtual tour provider meets our needs?  If you want to expose your property to more buyers and sellers and demonstrate to the seller your marketing skills, it won’t do you any good if the virtual tour simply sits idle on your website without being distributed to a global network of real estate sites.  So, if exposure is your objective and the virtual tour provider doesn’t have a significant distribution system… naughty!

If you want to show off the best features of the property and the virtual tourvirtual tour does not include high-definition full-screen capability, and HD YouTube videos… naughty, naughty!



How about creating more website traffic and Google Juice?  Or selling the home faster?  You will want to be sure your virtual tour provider includes links to your website, including the ability to download the YouTube VideoYouTube Video (if they create one) so you can include it on your personal YouTube Channel and gain the advantage of backlinks to your website and improve your Google score… Very Nice!

Speaking of YouTube videosYouTube videos and other features that are, well nice!  Is there an extra charge for the YouTube video?  Do you have to pay extra for distribution, agent websiteagent website, how about social media, mobile optimized, are these extra fees?  If so… naughty, naughty, and naughty!

No different than your cable TV service, your mobile phone or even the latest and coolest gadgets on the market, if they start off free just to get you hooked (yeah been there), and then charge for all the extras… or worse, don’t include them at any price, it’s just not nice!  And how about the price; is it fair, is there just one price to fit all customers or do you have a choice?  Choice is very nice!

When searching for a virtual tour provider, look for a provider that has the latest technology: global syndication, social media, YouTube-style video, e-flyere-flyer and HD virtual tours.   Also search for virtual tour providers that offer pricing options like a-la-carte tours (so you may buy them as needed) or provide different subscription levels – without a contract! All of these options are nice, nice, and very nice!

And don’t be so concerned with how long they have been in business.  Facebook and Google have only been around for 5 years or so.  Technology is evolving quickly and companies must do the same.  Look at the company philosophy.  Do they support charities?  How is their customer service?  Confused by a question... Are they easy to contact via e-mail, phone or fax? What is their company guarantee?  Will they refund your money without a naughty hassle?



Virtual toursVirtual tours are not all created equal and your reputation and income could be significantly impacted by making the right choice. The latest statistics show that over 90% of home buyers are searching online before they ever talk to a real estate agent.

Sure, being naughty once in a while can be nice, but not when it comes to your virtual tour provider… Leave the naughty ones for the others and treat yourself and your customers and prospects the way you want to be treated, nice!

Wishing you a nice, happy holiday filled with joy and giving!

If you would like to review more virtual tour product offerings, please click here.

The above article was written by Tim Denbo, President/CEO of VirtualTourCafe. 

VirtualTourCafe, LLC is based in Dublin, California and was co-founded by Timothy Denbo and Hannele Rinta-Tuuri.  The business is operated as a limited liability company and has an advisory board made up of professionals in the real estate, technology, and marketing fields. launched at the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Convention and Expo, November 5-8, in New Orleans, Louisiana.  VirtualTourCafe continuously donates a minimum of 10% of all net profits to charity.

To read more articles about virtual tours specifically, please click here.