Archive for February, 2012

Starting our Vacation Rental Photography business was something we did after lots of research and planning.  We operated the tour business on a part time basis the previous year and made enough to cover all of our start up costs.  On December 30, 2010, I quit my full time job and we dove headfirst into the self employed world.  We went full time only when we knew we had enough consistent and projected income to make the virtual tour business viable for the first year.  Because we had done a great deal of preparation in the year before we pulled the full time plug, we were ready when the opportunity presented itself.

We credit much of our success to having a great virtual tour software partner who allows us to focus on what we do best.  Originally established in 1999 as RealtorVision and now RTV, Inc. proudly supports our company as well as over 100 thousand real estate agents in 27 countries.  They are the largest full service virtual tour and property marketing network in the World and yet allow us the autonomy to run our own business and make our own decisions.  With them acting as our back office, we can focus on photographing and building virtual tours and let them focus on things like research and development of new technology and hosting our tours.

If you are considering starting your own business, count the costs and weigh the risks.  Statistics will tell you that between 50 – 90% of small business fail within the first year and yet the dream of many people is still to own their own business and defy those odds.  We are living proof that the rewards far outweigh the risks!!

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Virtual tours are probably the most underused form of advertising for Real Estate today.  I know of no other media that gives as much information on homes for sale. One of the things that we do is to educate our realtors the benefits of virtual tours and when we get a sale we have them provide us with as much of the MLS information. This is the most important area for home buyer’s in their search for their home.  The information on square footage, the address, the price, school district, the year built, number of bedrooms, baths, lot size and more are all great pieces of MLS data to show on your virtual home tour. If you’re not asking for this information to accompany your virtual tour you’re missing out!  Be sure to incorporate that into your sale.  RTV is telling me that the new system will have a LOT more room for MLS data and pertinent information so we’re very excited to see the Fusion program.  Hurry RTV Hurry!!

The other thing we like to mention to our prospects and current clients is the sheer amount of savings one gets over the course of the life of a virtual tour. We just had a customer come over to us from another virtual tour company and he always uses virtual tours.  He told us that on average he saves a half to full tank of gas every time he orders a virtual tour. Now that’s savings! It makes sense too. Wouldn’t it make sense to show the virtual tour first to eliminate unnecessary visits? Time is another area that you will save; look at how long it takes to drive around showing homes for sale that maybe the buyer does not like. If you estimate the cost by the hour, the virtual tours pay for itself in the first week hands down!

Finally we like to educate our customers on the savings they will experience on their advertising. It is expensive to advertise in print today, and with the low return on the cost of print, it only makes sense to advertise homes for sale with a virtual tour. So what are you waiting for everyone! Start training your customers and prospects like we do on the efficiencies of a virtual tour. Good luck out there! 

Ed Marksberry
Website coming real soon!
Order a virtual tour today: 866-947-8687

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It’s been said that the IRS Tax code is about ten times bigger than the Bible but the difference is that the Tax Code doesn’t contain any good news.  In the Bible, Jesus said, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.”  Many people dream of owning their own business but do not really have a plan for determining if that business is going to be viable.  In looking at a starting a virtual tour business, it’s important to look at long range profitability as well as short term viability. 

If you are considering starting a 360 tour business, look not only at the long term profitability but also the short term expenses involved in start up.  One of the big downfalls for small businesses is not being prepared for taxes at the end of the year.  Because we are self employed, we knew what our end of year income was on 12/31 and because Greg does such a great job as the CFO of our virtual tour business, I also knew exactly what our expenses were for the year.  Last week, I gathered all the information for our taxes and did a preliminary estimate of what our tax situation will be.

2011 was our first full year in the virtual tour business so we had no idea what we would owe in taxes therefore we did not send in quarterly estimated payments.  With much anticipation and a little apprehension, I calculated our taxes and realized that we are going to end up writing a pretty good check to Uncle Sam.  At first I was unhappy that we didn’t have enough write offs to offset more of the taxes but in retrospect, I am pretty excited.

Owing taxes means that we made a significant profit in our first full year running a virtual tour business.  We shot 350 virtual tours in 31 states last year so we have almost 39,000 BUSINESS miles that we can write off for the year.  At 51 or 55 cents a mile, that is a significant write off.  We are able to write off our phones, internet, meals, uniforms, advertising, supplies…if you own your own virtual tour business, you know that the list goes on.  Even after all of the deductions, we still owed a good bit.  As hard as it is to write a big check to the IRS, our hope is that we owe twice that much next year because as small business owners, we only pay taxes on our PROFIT!


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My son & I began our Online Virtual Tour business a few years ago and he has since moved away leaving me to run the virtual tour company on my own. We’re in a relatively small market in Montana and originally our virtual tour business took right off after our initial marketing campaign. Our repeat business is sensational. Many of our Real Estate clients have ordered at least multiple virtual tours monthly. 

I have recently contracted with a major city in Montana to produce a series of 360 Virtual Tours for their city. This is possible because of our earlier success at the aforementioned resorts. In addition to the Lodging Industry, we are currently producing “Seasonal Vt’s” for a number of clients. The “bottom line” to all of this is simple. There are numerous industries other than real estate that are extremely interested in purchasing VT’s from us to aid them in their overall marketing. Go out there and look for your virtual tour business everywhere!!

We are excited about the new RealTour Fusion system from RTV. Go RTV!

Monte Jenkins
Ronan Virtual Tours
Order a virtual tour: 406-676-5055

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We’re pleased to have our class lineup ready for our 2012 Virtual Tour Provider Convention. To get more details or register for the event please visit our convention page here:

Our Class offerings for the May 4-6 event are as follows:

•    Fusion I: introduction to the RealTour Fusion system. Learn how to navigate and use the new Fusion online virtual tour building system.  Presented by Ben Knorr

•    Tour Track 2.0: Introduction to Tour Track 2.0.  Learn how to use the new RealTour Fusion powered Tour Track system as well as the major Do’s and Don’ts of doing a Tour Track job.  Presented by Gabe Clark and Jacque Burke

•    Photography: Learn both basic and advanced elements of exposure, lighting, camera functions, flash and lighting and metering.  Presented by Dale Hart and Chuck Gullet

•    Introduction to Shooting 360 X 360 Spherical Tours: Fusion supports it, customers want it and now you can do it. Learn how to capture, assemble, and deliver spherical 360 X 360 virtual tours. Learn the method and the equipment and software required to produce these kinds of virtual tours. Presented by Ben Knorr

•    Introduction to Video Editing: Learn the basics of Adobe Premiere Elements 10 and how using video can help your business.  Presented by Jim Blue of BlueLaVaMedia & Ben Knorr

•    Sales & Marketing: Presented by Jason LaVanture

•    Business Class: Presented by Alan Fon & Jason LaVanture

•    Introduction to Floor Plans: Learn how to create and integrate floor plans into your existing business.

Conference activities will include our award banquet including dancing, marketplace for equipment sales and swaps, morning run with the Tour Track Fairy!

See you there!

Yours Sincerely,

Team RTV
Virtual Tour Software & Digital Marketing Training
Order a virtual tour – 866-947-8687

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