Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Digital Tour Solution
Online home tours come in a range of formats from a slide-show-like series of still photographs to a full-on 360-degree panorama tour. The options for purchasing these tours include:
- Full-service solutions (i.e., you call the company and state the property’s location, and they’ll will take the pictures and post them on the Web for you)
- Partial do-it-yourself solutions (i.e., you create the images and text and submit them to the company, which provides templates and Web-hosting services)
- Completely independent solutions (i.e., you purchase a digital camera with special attachments and software that enable you to create and upload your own images)
Here's what you need to find out before you make a decision about virtual tours:
- Is the price within my budget? Prices range from $39 for a budget-minded, supply-your-own-photos tour to $295 and up for a full-scale, professional tour.
- Will viewers need to download a “plug-in” to see the tour? If additional software is required, many people won’t watch the tour.
- Can the tour be played regardless of the viewer’s Internet service provider? You wouldn’t want to exclude America Online’s millions of subscribers, for example, by using technology that’s incompatible with that service.
- How large will the digital files for the tour be? The tour images should be good quality, but small enough to be downloaded quickly even on a dial-up Internet connection. Ideally, each image should be 35k to 50k.
- Can 3-D elements be included in the tour? Some sites have the option of including high-definition, 360 degree images that allow viewers to zoom in on any part of the tour without compromising image quality. Find out if the company you selected has such a feature available.
- What's the audio/narration ability? You may want to include personalized narration with your virtual tour.
- How is visitor information tracked? Several companies have built in software that allows you to view statistics about the number of clicks for each tour, allowing you to track hits by time and frequency.
- Can you include an interactive floor plan? Visitors might enjoy manipulating a given floor plan to see the potential of a property. Find out if the company you selected offers this feature.
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