Archive for February, 2009

I recently ran across a cool little tool that monitors your website (or any site or sites for that matter). It’s mainly for web developers who manage multiple sites, but even if you only have one site it is handy. Best of all it’s free! That seems to be the norm with web tools today. So many talented people recognize the fact that it’s good to give away something with the expectation that something (probably even better) will come back to them.

Ok, so head over to Are My Sites Up? and create an account. Then just enter in the site or sites that you want to monitor. If the site goes down for a significant amount of time you’ll get an email. Then you’ll receive another email when it comes back up. It’s that simple and that is all the tool does. Oh, and you can also have it send a text message to your phone instead of an email!

I have sites on a couple of different hosts and one in particular has gone down for ten or fifteen minutes at a time (mostly during the night). The others have yet to go down in the six weeks or so that I’ve been using this tool. That tells me that I may want to change hosts or contact support at the host. If you do contact support you also have a record to prove that you’re having a problem. A recent upgrade to the service gives you the error code that the site is returning.

Since we depend so much on our websites to market our businesses these days, making sure it stays up is important. Now you have an easy tool to keep an eye on it.

Hope you find this useful!

Brett Weaver
SpotLight Virtual Tours
Huntsville Alabama Virtual Tours
www.SpotLightvt.com

Order a Virtual Tour (931) 279-1047

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If I had a nickel for every time I was asked that question by a prospect or a provider in the field I would be writing this from my yacht off the coast of Malta.

Anyway…all you out there get your jumbo sized notepads out and grab a full box of pens because this is one MORE webinar that you certainly DON’T want to miss out on. $100k and the Graves Carey story. How on Earth did one man achieve $100,000 in one year! How did he reach such levels of success with the RTV product line after just a few years in business. And…moreover how has he been able to keep his competitors LOCKED out of town. Tune in Wednesday March 18th at 7:00 Eastern to The Formula episode 5 and listen while Jason LaVanture and Cheryl Waller interview Graves Carey.

Register Now inside of your TMS!

-Team RTV
www.RealTourVision.com

PS – Don’t forget to also register for next week’s episode which will be a recap on how to create your Exposure Engine, YouTube Video Tour and E-Flyer. See you on the shows!

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I confess, at first I did not understand or realize the power of blogging sites like Twitter and Facebook. While other professionals have raved about the contacts, referrals, etc. that they have obtained from Social Networking sites, I initially did not see its true value or potential. However, a recent news story and my own experiences have shown me the power of these Social Networking sites.

If you have any misgivings about social networking’s business value, let me dismiss them for you now. Although social networks and online communities may not drive instantaneous sales, they can absolutely help you build customer retention – through gathering feedback, responding to concerns, sharing informational content, and more. In the case of responding to customers’ concerns, social networking is turning out to be a powerful retention tool. Many companies today are surfing online communities and social networking sites for customers’ comments and following up as a result. So, if you have a complaint many businesses are actively listening and willing to resolve the issue.

In this week’s publication of BusinessWeek (March 2, 2009), there is a short article called “A Social Networker’s Story: Zappos CEO and UPS Step In.“ The story describes how Tara Hunt, a marketing executive with Intuit, initially contacted UPS regarding the tracking of a delivery package and received a generic response from the customer service representative explaining that packages sometimes aren’t delivered until 9 p.m. during the Christmas season. Not satisfied with the response, Tara called upon the power of Twitter and posted a message (known as a “tweet”) describing how she wanted to walk her dog and was waiting on UPS to deliver a package. The message or tweet was relayed to the CEO of Zappos who was having dinner with UPS’s President for the Western Region, who then mentioned the tweet to the UPS exec. The Zappos CEO replied to the tweet “someone will call.” The UPS exec contacted the operations manager who then was able to schedule a pre-set delivery time. The UPS driver arrived not only with the package – but also flowers, chocolates, and dog toys. It was an excellent example of customer service. The question is though; did it pay off? Absolutely! Ms. Hunt now goes out of her way to use UPS and even purchased a pair of shoes from Zappos.

As word spreads of these types of stories, customers will increasingly want to experience it themselves—and may actually go to online communities before contacting a customer service department directly. (Or may look to see if they can contact a customer service team through their Social Network site.)

So here is what I’ve learned from the BusinessWeek article and my own personal experiences:

~Customers don’t like automated replies or generic responses.
~Customers love good information
~Customers can accept mistakes and problems if they know what is going on with their problem or complaint and obtain timely updates.
~When blogging or posting, remember that others are or may be listening (including friends, family, employers, competitors, etc.).
~If you are a company, you may just want to listen in on Twitter to see what your customers are saying about your company and the service it provides.
~A satisfied customer is more likely to be a source of repeat business and referrals.
~An unhappy customer will shout (louder than the happy one) from the rooftops the bad service they received.

Thank You
Michael Thompson
Real Vision Studio
Detroit Virtual Tours
www.RealVisionStudio.com
734-727-2276
Cell Phone 734-560-0213

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The Virtual Tour Website That Offers Some Interesting Benefits

In this article I’d like to share with you some information about my virtual tour company website Medallion Virtual Tours at www.Medallion360.com, including some key features that I think sets us apart from the average virtual tour site. I believe the most important feature of our site is how the “active” virtual tours and slide show presentations produced by Medallion Virtual Tours are linked and listed. We use a style similar to most real estate and vacation rental and lodging web sites. Using a familiar layout in design and navigation can quickly speed-up the learning curve for new visitors while moving them toward our virtual tour and slide show presentation links. Best of all, a click on a clients virtual tour link from our website will directly result in a www.Medallion360.com referral hit on that client’s Real Tour Vision (RTV) tour stats page.

I offer our “active” virtual tour listing as a FREE add-on service for our real estate, property management, vacation rental, restaurant and business clients. Our clients benefit in several ways, one from the added exposure and visitor traffic to their virtual tour links from our websites (www.Medallion360.com and www.CambriaVirtualTours.com) and two, from our top page position on Goggle, Yahoo and others. We even do some Google Adwords buys in key cities that we serve to help boost our exposure. It’s great to look over our tour traffic reports and see Medallion360.com or CambriaVirtualTours.com as one of the top referring URL’s listed on a client’s report. And let me tell you… the client does notice! That’s a win, win in my book.

You might wonder how much work is involved in maintaining a web page that lists all of your “active” tours or real estate listings. Tasks like keeping the data up-to-date and fresh can be challenging, especially if you have a large number of “active” virtual tours, real estate listings or vacation rentals. Here’s how I do it, and I’d be happy to set-up a similar system for your virtual tour, real estate or vacation rental company. The Medallion Virtual Tours website was developed using php and MySQL database. I’ve developed a number of similar sites for real estate firms and vacation rental companies across America. If you are an RTV provider, a real estate or property management firm, I’d be happy to set-up a dynamic site for your company. Imagine featuring your virtual tours, real estate listings or vacation rentals in a similar way. Best of all, the dynamic content management system (CMS) requires NO programming skills to maintain. All you need is an internet connection and a web browser. Updating your virtual tour or real estate data is accomplished by filling out a form. That’s it! For additional information check out my ActiveRain Blog or follow me on Twitter.

Bob Blandy
MEDALLION SERVICES
Central California Virtual Tours
www.Medallion360.com
Order a Virtual Tour or Dynamic Website (805)927-0161

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This is the first RTV blog from the (relatively) new Head Photographer at Tally Tours, Inc. With the departure of our President, Myles Lasco, from our base in Tallahassee, I have taken over the day-to-day operations of shooting and creating the virtual tours for the community of Tallahassee, FL. And with Myles’s recent vacation to the land down under, it has fallen to me to write this update.

While business is fairly consistent and surprisingly steady for us in these winter months, it does not seem to be the same for our partners in crime, the Realtors. We stay busy, of course, because the Realtors are doing everything they can think of to sell homes, and virtual tours are thankfully something that they think of. However, in these economically-fractured times, it seems that the more creative one can be with their small business, the more successful they will be. Therefore, I’d like to announce that Tally Tours, Inc. will be branching out from just the real estate community in Tallahassee.

We have developed the commercial side of our business and have begun to seek out clients who may not otherwise realize just how beneficial a virtual tour can be for their business. We will be reaching out to residential businesses such as apartments, hotels, and retirement homes but also to restaurants and other businesses that may host parties and functions and would like to advertise their beautiful facilities. Also, I was recently in San Diego shooting a tour for the San Diego Yacht Club (which you can see at their website www.sdyc.org). Along that line, we’re going to be offering tours to resorts and golf clubs so that they can add virtual tours to their marketing and advertising strategies.

Finally, we are reaching out to local schools and churches, who I doubt have ever thought about having virtual tours created for them. This would help not only the schools (particularly the private schools) but also families moving to Tallahassee would be able to find these virtual tours and research their new community before they relocate. The community virtual tours, such as the schools and churches, will also be available to local Realtors to put on their websites which I believe will help them get more business from the relocating population.

Who can say how the future of the real estate market will affect the virtual tour business, but with this new commercial side of the business, we believe we can keep our small business steady and likely even grow significantly in 2009.

Best,

Kevin Wohlgemuth
Head Photographer
(850) 491-3909
www.TallyTours.com

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