Drop visual tours as a marketing tool?

I’ve been paying for Visual Tours for several years now – $29.95 a month. Originally, they offered a distinctively different product; most importantly, they offered linking partnerships for distribution to multiple websites. Now, there are more efficient method for linking distribution, not to mention video offerings and the fact that I can put unlimited photos on my website.

I’m trying to justify the 30 bucks a month, but can’t seem to do so.

The question is – Are Visual Tours worth it?

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20 Comments

  1. Candy Lynn March 10, 2008 at 09:54

    Jim:
    I’ve been a loyal Visual Tours user for about 6 years but I’m getting ready to drop them too.
    Between FlexMLS & my Point 2 Agent site I really can’t justify the expense either.

    Reply
  2. Greg Swann March 10, 2008 at 09:59

    We’re switching to Obeo with our next listing — the Friday after Good Friday. All virtual tours stink, but Obeo offers virtual redecorating, a category killer. More here. We’ll keep Visual Tours active for a few more months for the hosting, but then I’ll unperson them from all of our listings and web sites.

    Reply
  3. Michael Wurzer March 10, 2008 at 10:02

    Jim, though I’m not an agent and don’t have direct experience with their tools, I do see lots of virtual tours in my work as an MLS vendor and the best I’ve seen lately is JustSnooping.

    Reply
  4. Steve Jagger - Ubertor March 10, 2008 at 10:05

    Hi Jim,
    Did you notice the new video tab within every listing in your Ubertor control panel. It is a new feature where you can load up video right to your website. It is a brand new feature. We have not profiled it yet on our blog, but wanted to point it out. Let me know what you think.
    Steve

    Reply
  5. Daniel March 10, 2008 at 10:11

    As a real estate consumer (not an agent), I would much rather see a lot of pictures than some sort of high-tech gimmick that was impressive in 1997.

    In my experience, most “virtual / visual tours”:

    1) Are really really ugly.
    2) Either don’t work at all or do something crazy to my browser (like make it FULL SCREEN)
    3) They tend to over promise (Video! Images! Sound!!) and under-deliver (all the above created by a digital media amateur).

    20 pictures is way way better than 4 pictures + a really annoying virtual tour.

    Reply
  6. Sasha March 10, 2008 at 11:41

    Another interesting tidbit- I’ve heard more than 1 person say that visual/virtual tours make them nauseous. Too much zooming around.

    I’ve also noticed that about 50% of “virtual tours” that agents are producing now are really just a slideshow of still photos set to music. I’m not a fan.

    Reply
  7. Jessica Beganski March 10, 2008 at 14:33

    Just to confirm your good decision to drop the virtual tour, I went to a class a few weeks ago and the speaker said that the effectiveness of virtual tours had peaked. I think that around 68% of buyers found it helpful but many more found plain old pictures to be the best. Agents should invest in taking really great pictures – not fancy video tours.

    Reply
  8. Athol Kay March 10, 2008 at 15:35

    A virtual tour is just an annoying way to see the photos for the most part.

    Reply
  9. Pavel March 10, 2008 at 20:21

    Jim, interesting post. Our company is having a visual tour rep come next week to do a talk and here is one of their lines: “Think virtual tours are just for listings? Randy will show you how to use tours to bullet proof your listing presentations, market yourself to FSBO’s, expired’s and to your sphere of influence.”

    On the other hand, what do you think of something like the link below? It’s a 360 tour with zoom and pan (left right, up down – zoom in on that new tile on the floor 🙂 I think this type of tour is very helpful to a potential purchaser who can get a basic layout of the entire room in one 360 swoop. (Ah….that’s how you get to the dining room… oh look… there is a door to the outside from the kitchen that no photo showed, etc.). Would love to read your comments.

    http://www.hometourhq.net/idx/panoramas/119_westwood_circle/

    Reply
  10. Terry Smith March 10, 2008 at 22:14

    Virtual tours are old school, they have seen there day. In fact, most of the old VT tours I look at slow my whole system down, trying to incorporate music in their old model. Consumers like big bright
    nice photos and fixed properly like Athol’s.

    Reply
  11. Julie Emery March 11, 2008 at 08:12

    Jim,

    I’ve been doing the same analysis for myself. I asked a similar question on my blog, but you got better responses.
    The consensus is definitely that photos are better.

    Reply
  12. ROGER VOISINET March 11, 2008 at 09:18

    Jim: RE/MAX has free VT (really slideshows) that are superior to the one you are using; I agree that your current subscription has passed it’s usefulness

    Reply
  13. Jim Bain March 11, 2008 at 11:19

    Jim –
    Lots of great feedback here! I wonder if consumers find value in the type of guided video tour we did. How about posting one of our old podcasts to gauge response?

    Reply
  14. Matthew Rathbun March 12, 2008 at 21:51

    Jim,

    I am not a big fan of VT simply because it’s the same over and over. I think it had a strong place before everyone was doing it.

    That said NAR profile reported that 67% of online consumers preferred listings with VT. I think that was a 2004 report.

    It would be FANTASTIC if MLS systems would all allow .avi files be attached to the listings. I could do this with tons of free applications and do it better than VT systems that have to keep it basic so that all Realtors can use it.

    Reply
  15. michael guthrie March 13, 2008 at 15:04

    Jim,
    I appreciate these comments. One question, is this still a good tool for a beginner who doesn’t really understand how to do this type of thing?

    Reply
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  17. John Alspaw August 27, 2009 at 22:23

    I like the Visual tours. I have been using them for several years. I have seen some slide shows of still pictures that are pretty nice but I like that you can knit several stills together to do a panoramic view of a large room. I also like that you can have up to 50 frames. Our MLS just expanded to 15 pictures. The visual tours allow you to add a lot of description to all your pictures. $29 bucks a months for unlimited listings is one of my lowest marketing costs. I don’t sell the product but I use it.

    Reply
  18. Jim Duncan August 28, 2009 at 07:22

    John –

    Thank you for the comment … your MLS only just expanded to 15 pictures??!!??!!

    Who is the provider? Why don’t you get those expanded?

    Reply

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