Archive for March, 2010

You’ve heard it said that one should not mix business with pleasure.  While that is probably good advice in most situations, as a small business owner of a professional apartment photography company, mixing business with pleasure sometimes is the ONLY way to fit in pleasure.

During a recent RTV virtual tour webinar with other virtual tour providers in our network, the topic of achieving a balance between personal time and business came up.  Many of us admitted that we don’t do a great job with that part.  The best thing about owning your own virtual tour business is that you control your own destiny.  The worst thing about owning your own virtual tour business is that you control your own destiny.  It’s really the only way to actually get paid what you are worth but for many small business owners the cost of success can be high. 

Having an office at home can mean that you never leave work.  Being in business with the person you live with can make separating your personal life even harder.  Setting up boundaries can be difficult, especially in the beginning when there is way too much to do and way too little income coming in.  We started this business together because frankly we really like spending time with each other. But in order for our business to thrive, our relationship must as well. 

We wanted to find something we could do together that would utilize our respective talents.  We certainly found that with our apartment photography!  We wanted to create a virtual tour business that provided a needed service in good economies and bad.  We absolutely found that in offering our virtual tours through the RTV virtual tour system.  Finally, we wanted to find a business that we would enjoy and could work into and around our personal lives.  We both have out of town families that we love and want to spend more time with and in the past have not had the flexibility to do that. 

Virtual tours are an absolute necessity when it comes to real estate marketing but more and more business are realizing the benefits of having virtual tours of their facilities on their web sites.  There are many great ideas on how to barter services with other businesses in a mutually beneficial way but here are a few we have found successful.

Restaurants – We are in desperate need of a date night but we put most of our discretionary budget back into the business.  Here is a link to a tour done by BlueLaVaMedia, a Traverse City Virtual Tour Company

Bed and Breakfasts – Usually owned by small business owners who don’t have much balance in their lives either, bed and breakfasts are a great get away.  The winter is their slow time so we are negotiating virtual tours with some nearby bed and breakfasts in exchange for a night’s stay.  Great way for us to build our virtual tour portfolio and unwind at the same time.

Work-cations – The recent economic environment has caused the popularity of “stay-cations” to increase dramatically.  Because we work from a home that we are in the process of remodeling, we STAY home more than enough…we want to get away!  So instead, we look at locations where we want to go and will do target marketing in those areas.  Some simple cold calling on a Thursday offering a weekend special allows us to book enough business on a given weekend to either barter or cover the cost of our trip for a spontaneous get away.

If the only way to get balance in your life as a small business owner is to mix business with pleasure, then by all means, get creative and make it happen.  It’s sort of like the free offer of a weekend stay at a time share…just without the requisite 90 minute sales presentation and hard sell by the unrelenting salesman at the end. 


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I recently had the great opportunity to participate in a project from Open Office Space which resulted in the creation of the video that you see above.  The Open Office Space portal helps both people who are looking to rent out their office space and also people who are looking for office space for rent.

Check out their website at  I think that you too will find the website very clean and professional and above all extremely simply to use.  The fact that David Gise, founder of Open Office Space is promoting virtual tours is of course very encouraging for myself and the RTV provider netwrok too.  Thanks for the opportunity Gise and keep up the good work!

Jason LaVanture
Start a Virtual Tour Business Today!

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When you think Greenville, SC what do you think of? SC 360 Tours, a division of SB Design Associates is located in Greenville, SC and thought that a virtual tour of Greenville would showcase their city and also their virtual tour technology.

Greenville, SC is located about 1 ½ hours south of Charlotte,NC and depending on traffic about 2 hours north of Atlanta, GA. How about 45 minutes from the mountains and 3 hours from the beach. The virtual tours that you see here represent a home in the area, a business located downtown Greenville and also a shot of downtown Greenville at night this past Christmas. When you look at the virtual tour you will notice the clarity of the pictures and the fact that the tour is not distorted.

SB Design Associates decided upon RTV after looking at many different types of virtual tour software because of the higher quality finished product. There are many products advertised as providing a virtual tour but few do more than animate a still photograph, you can’t see the detail of the home or business.

A virtual tour produced by SB Design Associates allow you the viewer to stop the tour, zoom into a particular feature of the tour, and move from one room or place to another with ease. If you are a business owner or home owner a virtual tour provides you the exposure that you need to showcase your home or business. The residential virtual tour was taken during the Christmas season and the virtual tour of Larkin’s on the River mid January, 2010.

Enjoy our Greenville Virtual Tours!
Shannon Baskin
SB Design Associates
SC 360 Tours

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Hello there fellow RTV virtual tour providers out there. Here are some of my best tips for utilizing Virtual Tours to increase rental property bookings. After owning rental property for several years and trying to continue to increase bookings, I searched for all opportunities to get the word out on our property.  Great quality pictures attract so many more inquires.  Just imagine if you provide a virtual tour for prospective vacation renters.

For those who participate with the #1 rental site out there,, did you know that you can add virtual tours to those listings?  This is not something that is readily advertised on their site. Adding Virtual Tours will completely separate your listing from the others out there.  It is a very simple process to have the tour added.  Once the tour is live, you simply e-mail the link to with the property number and they will review it and post it to the listing. 

Once your virtual tour is properly linked up to the site you can now watch weekly as your RTV virtual tour hit report comes in.  See how much more traffic you’re getting!!  Other sites that drive massive traffic include Craigslist, and VRBO.  Spend just a little time making a list of these sites so when someone asks you how you’re going to promote a specific type of property you will be able to easliy rattle off your top picks.  This makes you the expert and people will come to know that when it comes to marketing properties online, you’re thier TOP PICK!

Good luck out there everyone! Just head out there and take a look at how many vacation properties are in your area. I think you will be surprised!

Tammy Jerome
Campton Virtual Tours
Order a virtual tour: 603-960-0268

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Brad and I have been professional digital photographers for many years and use only professional Canon Equipment, Lighting, and Editing Software.  We pride ourselves on our relationship with our agents, vendors and clients.  This was an incredible trip to Southern California and should serve as a model to other RTV virtual tour providers who are willing to push themselves a little out of the box.

We had a party scheduled in Santa Barbara, Ca on Saturday night we really wanted to go to but wanted to optimize the trip with business as well.  It started with a seven hour drive to Santa Barbara from Scottsdale on Friday.  Saturday morning when we woke up, we had scheduled an exterior virtual tour photo shoot of a custom home built on Oxnard Beach.  The weather cooperated fully and just as we needed to shoot, the clouds, the sky and the sun came together to provide a magnificent combination of elements to enhance our picture (which we shot in HDR).  From there we went to the marina and shot some 360 virtual tours to make samples for our website.   Then back to the hotel for a nap and to get ready for the party in Montecito.

We are shameless, we met a couple of real estate agents at the party and gave a pitch on RTV’s new virtual staging product.  I had my blackberry with me so I was able to pull up Jason’s samples from his newsletter to show them.  By the way – a great time to show our Scottsdale Mobile Text Marketing sample site, and don’t think this didn’t make an impression on them as well.  Party, Party, Party and back to the hotel.

Sunday morning was mentoring time.  We hooked up with a retired TV/Movie Producer/Director who mentored us on light and video.  The afternoon was spent with relatives looking at kyacks for a future trip to California.

Monday morning we were exhausted and needed to rest up because……
WE HAD OUR FIRST TOUR TRACK job from RTV. By letting RTV know we were going to be in Southern California we were able to get a Tour Track scheduled and bring in additional income to cover the trip.  Boy are we green for professional photographers.  We figured 5 hours was fine for a shoot, but….did you know that two different sets of dusk and twilight shots cannot be shot at the same time if they are a 20 minute walk apart from each other.  Did you know that when shooting a Model home that is suppose to be furnished, that furniture may not be provided (great opportunity for virtual staging by the way).  Did you know that an occupied unit in no way shape or form can conform to the rules of Tour Track without weeks of cleaning, straightening, boarding the pets and moving personal belongings.  Also, can anyone define:  get a neighborhood shot of Sprinter.  Anyway, we did our best, we were scheduled for 30 shots and ended up taking about 60, so I am sure the client will be happy.

But, the most important lesson is this.  We took all the Formula, Image and Tour Track advice.  In no way, shape or form can an apartment complex be adequately shot in less than 6 hours and meet the standards.   Lesson to you fellow providers: whether it is a high paying tour track or the lowest paying, be sure to scout out the property first.  Even if you have to take neighborhood outdoor shots the day before and mark on a map your outdoor shots of the complex or hotel, spend the extra time – you will need it to properly light the caves that show up as apartments, to creatively carve out shots without parking lots or cars or people and to meet all of the shot requirements on the list.

Good luck on your Tour Tracks – they are a great source of income, and can be fun to shoot as there is very little post if you do it correctly and definitely no setup, juicing or boosting required.  Above all Tour Track is a way that Mother RTV gives back to its’ loyal virtual tour providers. Even $175 for the complex and the 5 hours time to shoot more than makes up for the time to do post and/or set up all of the things you promise to clients.

P.S.  Jacque Burque and her crew are great to work with.

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