More to Virtual Tours Than Meets the Eye

Vendors bundle value-added marketing features with virtual tour packages.

July 1, 2005

With most buyers looking online first in their home search, it’s becoming increasingly important to offer virtual tours as an integral part of your marketing services. Whether you prefer to build the tours yourself or enlist a professional, you have plenty of options. These days, virtual tour vendors are stepping up their offerings to win your business.

There’s a trend among tour providers to include a range of value-added marketing features and services with tours to enhance the appeal of the packages. Some of these enhancements include providing links to your virtual tours in search engine results and at REALTOR.com, and formatting them for display on the MLS.

Although you should always consider the ease of use and the number and type of pictures allowed when evaluating any virtual tour solution, you also should evaluate what the tour package offers to help market your services and listings more effectively.

Here’s a roundup of available packages:

  • VisualTour just added a listing presentation CD and support literature to its Agent Starter Kit, the basic virtual tour package. The CD, for distribution to prospective sellers, demonstrates the beneficial role the company’s tours play in promoting the sale of a home.
  • CirclePix offers a menu of marketing tools and services to help its clients promote their tours on and off the Web. These fee-based options include reformatting the tours for use in flyers, for distribution on CD or e-mail, and yard sign riders that let interested buyers know where they can view a virtual tour of the property.
  • Voyager 360 software and service package includes the company’s RealAdvantage virtual office Web site, which allows practitioners to gain additional exposure by promoting their virtual tours on other real estate Web sites that also use Voyager 360 software.
  • Tour Now subscribers get a flyer creator for formatting tours for use in print. The company’s hosting services include a contact manager to automatically capture the e-mail addresses of buyers interested in a particular tour, and a tracking feature that monitors the number of visitors for each tour and which Web sites or portals are referring them.
  • Hometour360, a package from REALTOR.com operator Homestore, includes templates for three different property flyers that include tour content. Homestore also offers a separate fee-based Featured Homes Marketing System, that guarantees prominent placement of listing information, including virtual tours links, in home searches conducted on REALTOR.com, America Online, and MSN.

As these examples demonstrate, there’s much more to virtual tour solutions than what site visitors see on screen. Depending on what you hope to accomplish with your tours and how involved you want to be in the process, these extras can make the difference between a good and a great virtual tour solution.

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