There are two words I hate more than any other. 2 words which make me squirm every time I hear them, like fingernails down a chalkboard. And those 2 words are more surprising than you think!
There. I said it. I hate the term Virtual Tours. Which when you consider the fact it is the core product of our business may come as a bit of an odd thing to say, so I will try my hardest to explain way I feel this way.
I read today, with some degree of horror (OK that is the end of the Halloween puns now) that eMoov were going to be offering FREE VIRTUAL TOURS to every vendor. My heart raced - how could this be? How could a company be providing the products that we sell, for FREE!
I read through the article at a hundred miles an hour, then flicked over to take a look at the virtual tours by visiting the providers webpage….and then started breathing again.
The ‘tours’ if you could call them that were low quality, with awful navigation, poor image quality, poor everything. They were your typical £5 tours. Granted they were 360 images and were being touted as ‘virtual reality’, and I guess at a stretch you could just about call them that. You could indeed stick on a VR headset to view, but the experience would be on a par with strapping 4 portable TVs to your head and continually switching the channels over to a different view. Phew. I was safe
Or was I?
Because here belies the issue - that the term virtual tour has come to represent a product of poor quality. The tours that have been around for a few years now are simply a 360 photo in the middle of the room, with a link to the adjoining rooms. And even though they’ve not been a ‘virtual tour’ in a true sense they have served a purpose, and they have generally been shot by pro photographers so the quality of the pictures has been good.
Cue the advances in technology and and a swathe of budget 360 setups affordable for the amatuer photographer to set up their own ‘virtual tour’ company. Yes you too can provide Virtual Tours with a £79 camera and charge the same amount to the agent / vendor!
To say that an amateur can provide a quality product just because they have a cheapy camera is akin to saying I can draw like DaVinci just because I have a pencil. It is just not true and anyone entering into a cut price agreement needs to expect a cut price product. Even eMoove explain that their free tours should cost anywhere from £79 to £100 - are you expecting an expert to show up and do a professional job for that?
And this is how many agents and venues have come to see virtual tours. A ‘take it or leave it product’ that doesnt often deliver a ROI….which couldnt be further from the truth!
A ‘next gen’ virtual tour is like walking through a building. It is like a souped up indoor version of Google Streetview with a ton of extra bells and whistles. We are not talking a single 360 photo in the middle of every room before star trekking across to the next one, we are talking up to 200 points within a building and being able to travel between all of them. Customers can explore to their hearts content, becoming immersed in the space and building up a real idea for how it feels. Throw in the fact that they can also see a 3D model of the entire space as well as digital floorplans and you start to see how this is a world apart from the common misconceptions.
And the results back up the fact that real virtual tours WORK. Recent stats from Best Western revealed that their hotels with a tour generate 48% more revenue than those without. Evidence from research in Australia show that listings with a virtual tour get 95% more enquiries than those without. These are just 2 of a whole set of amazing statistics that point to the fact that when done right, these tours pay off.
But the challenge is how to change the perception that people have of them. How we turn the term virtual tour into something that is desired, something that adds value, something that generates enquiries and bookings. Rather than something that is synonymous with a product that never really lived up to its billing.
If you are interested in a virtual tour for your business or to showcase your home, please contact venue view today for a free quote.