In today’s competitive world, attracting prospective customers to your property is getting difficult each day, with a multitude of options available. To make a lasting impression on a prospective customer, most of the property providers are coming up with innovative ideas. One such idea having a ‘virtual tour of the property’.
A virtual tour gives the prospective customer an opportunity to experience the property without having to be there. This helps them in deciding which property is best for them. And also, helps the property owner in staying relevant or increasing his customer base.
Below slides make learning about virtual tours as easy as the tours themselves, so check them out now!
Ways of giving a virtual tour…
There can be several ways of providing a virtual tour, such as Video Tour with or without a voice over, Aerial Tour, 3D Tour, VR-Enabled, or Interactive. Let’s go into how these differ and which are suitable for your purpose.
● Video Tours: Simple pre-recorded videos of the property with or without a voice over. The video takes you through each of the rooms and attractions of the property such as the garden, the conference room, the kids’ area, kitchen, and so on. At times videos have a voice over that tells you the specifications of the property such as its size, location, neighborhood information, and so on. These voiceovers can also be less informative and more aesthetic or even some background music.
This is the most basic form of the tour and can be created with the least amount of expense and skills required. It is suitable for established brand names that don’t need to pull customers. Further, it is also suitable for smaller players with very restricted budgets, for example a highway motel. These can be created using even a smartphone and edited using any video editor software available online also for free.
● Aerial Tours: These are also pre-recorded videos of the property with or without a voice over. However, the key difference is that these are shot from a great altitude and therefore capture a bird’s eye view of the property. Mostly they focus on the exterior of the properties. These are more suitable for those properties situated in huge and beautiful landscapes or pastures of greenery and nature. At times people like to mix it with the video tours to showcase the interiors as well.
Naturally these cost more than a simple video tour. They require professionals and at times are even shot from a helicopter to get the aerial view. Therefore it is definitely not for all kinds of properties.
● 3D Tours: This is the latest form of technology being used these days. There are many variants of this. Some are VR-enabled i.e. Virtual Reality enabled. Some are just interactive to the mouse click. These give the prospective customer a feeling of being at the property.
If it is VR-enabled, prospects can use a VR glass and experience the property from the comfort of their homes. As they move in their homes, they will feel they are moving around the property. Otherwise, mouse-click interactive tours are no less engaging. By clicking on to a specific room of the property, the prospect can enter into it and by dragging the mouse around and they can have a complete 360-degree view of the room or the property. If there are multiple floors, the prospect can climb up the stairs and see the floors.
This is ore suitable for homestays, vacation, or beach houses that people like to rent. It might even be useful for hotels as the customer can look around the various attractions such as the landscapes, swimming pool, conference areas, and the likes.
Apart from being informative, these tours are luring too. These are a marketing tool to grab the attention of the prospect and pull them into choosing your property over your competitors. At times, these become more important for short stay properties than long stays or properties for sale. People willing to rent a property won’t finalize it over a virtual tour only but short stay seekers will. So in these competitive times these tools have become highly essential to stay relevant.
Tools for creating a virtual tour…
This is where we discuss various tools for virtual tours, mostly focussing on the 3D-Tour tools because there are too many options to choose from and it can get confusing. For other methods, the choice is rather simpler.
Matterport: This is the most common software to create immersive 3D virtual tours. Most property owners use this. It converts 2D images and videos to 3D interactive images. The software supports VR and taking a tour through this gives the impression that the prospect is at the property itself.
The software is compatible with 360 cameras other than its own brand and therefore provides flexibility. However, the cost of the subscription is pretty high for Matterport. Buying software and hardware can cost you close to $5,000 while only using the hosting services for your tour can range between $50 and $150 monthly. Even though it is one of the best tools in the market, it is not for everyone. Only high-end players who expect to recover such costs from rental or short stay incomes can afford this. Another option is to hire a Matterport professional for less than $400.
Another drawback is that the tour is created by Matterport from the images and videos uploaded by you. So Matterport owns these tours and can prioritize those tours which pay a higher subscription. Therefore there is no level-playing field.
Cupix: This is one of the biggest competitors to Matterport. Even though it is a newer player, it has grabbed the attention of many Matterport users. It has various subscription plans and a free service as well. This makes it pocket friendly for smaller prospects such as a budget hotel or a highway motel or even a homestay.
Another flexibility here is that the charges are based on the amount of space utilized and not on the number of tours created. Therefore smaller players pay lower and can create more tours if required. It is also good for a chain of hotels in different locations.
Moreover, the copyright to the tours and other data of the customer is owned by them and not Cupix. This is where it truly trumps Matterport because customers are not worried about plagiarism from competitors.
Zillow: This is very popular in the budget segment and therefore highly appropriate for smaller markets such as motels or a homeowner renting out a room or a floor in his home, or even a cabin-in-the-woods owner renting it to campers. The app is free, only a smartphone or a tablet is required to create a tour. They only charge $20 to $60 per lead basis. Many players might not use it
because they don’t need lead generation, all they need is a virtual tour that they can embed on their websites or platforms such as Airbnb. Quality might not be as good as Matterport or Cupix, but for some players that are not a big issue.
Vpix: This won’t generate the tours automatically. You will have to do that on your own. However, the tours can be easily shared on Social media and property listing sites. This feature makes it highly popular. There are three subscription plans, the lowest one coming for $59. There is a limit to the number of tours you can host based on the plan you choose. This gives a lot of flexibility. Smaller players can choose a lower plan while bigger players can choose a higher plan which allows hosting of close to 250 tours. Vpix is not compatible with smartphones or tablets and is complex to use. The only good point about it is that it is affordable.
Easy Pano: As the name suggests, it is going for easy. You buy the software once and don’t pay for a subscription. The cost however is $299.95 so it is not for one time users. It might be appropriate for those who create tours for their clients. There is a free trial version too. The usage of the software is a lot simpler as compared to other providers. It uses the floor plan as the starting point. By clicking on any specific area, the user can get a tour of that. It supports audio, video, 3D objects, and much more. It is also compatible with various cameras, 360 or DSLR.
It is also suitable for smaller players because they may end up paying an equivalent amount over the years in hosting subscriptions. So it is a trade-off between when you pay.
Kuula: This is a budget option. It can be used to create a 360 immersive experience of your property. The best part is that it is browser-based and no app needs to be downloaded to take the tour. This gives the users greater flexibility. Further, even for sharing the tours, no app is required. There are free trial versions, $12/month Pro version, and $36/month business version. Further, it is VR-enabled and there is no limit on the number of tours.
So ultimately which is most appropriate for your usage is something subjective. If you can get the desired quality in budget options, Matterport is not for you. You can pick any of the other options mentioned here. However if you want the best quality and are ready to pay the price, then Matterport is the best in the industry.