What is a Virtual Tour?

Well that really depends on who you ask, what company they work for, and the kind of product they are trying to sell you. www.realtourvision.com has been building the world’s largest most powerful network of virtual tour photographers now for over 8 years and we like to think that our definition is among the most accurate out there. We define a virtual tour as a set of images both panoramic and still that give the user a sense of direction, spatial relationship, and depth. Most all virtual tours are released inside of an eye appealing template capable of displaying addition information relevant to the location being toured such as brochures, floor plans, video clips, and quite often audio voice-overs. Virtual tours are also very portable and can be saved to the desktop, emailed, and dispersed across the masses for maximum visibility.

We strongly believe that panoramic virtual reality tours should use a combination of imaging formats to adequately do justice to the tour. At the end of the day we are all in this industry because we want the end user or “Tour Taker” to get what they are looking for and pass those feelings along to the person who initially purchased the virtual tour thus promoting further interest in use of the technology.

Most importantly it is very important that the client ordering the virtual tour knows what they are actually getting when they place their order. Am I getting a virtual panoramic tour that I can interact with by moving and zooming? Am I getting a series of snapshots only here which is coined in the industry as a “Slide Show”? Finally some companies only offer a streaming video solution with no printable images, no interaction or control, but still call it a virtual tour. At the end of the day what we end up with here folks is a lot companies offering way too many technologies that should be going under different names other than a virtual tour but don’t. Why the lies, deception, or lack of being forthright with clients? The answer is simple here. Right now lots of people are searching for and asking for virtual tours. Companies want to get their business and will do whatever it takes to do so even if that means misrepresenting technology and keeping people uninformed as long as possible.

Here is a great example for you. Many of our prospects calling in to order tours from our virtual tour providers look at our panoramic virtual tours and really believe they are looking at a video. This is because the images are moving just like they do in a video. We feel that it is our obligation as a business owners and industry leaders to take a moment to educate them on the underlying technology and let them know what they are actually seeing. Both Real Tour Vision and our vast provider network take this approach with our prospects and feel that the higher road is the best to take for the industry in the long run.

We have seen far too often over the years several companies take advantage of common misconceptions in the industry. People are being sold Video tours under the name virtual tours. They are being pitched hardware free virtual tour systems that only produce second rate panos and slide shows at best. Slide shows for the longest time were called and sold to people who wanted to order virtual tours. Finally, to really top things off, the general public is now being sold “Video” tours but they are actually getting slide shows that move from one image to the next! Most of these virtual tour companies simply let the end users and clients think what they want and don’t correct the people who misunderstand the kind of technology being delivered. In the end this will only leave the general public confused as to what a virtual tour really is and harder for people selling real virtual tours to define their products.
At Real Tour Vision you WILL get the straight talk from us and each and every one of our providers. Letting you know exactly how things work inside and out is our promise to you the client. Every call that we take resulting in a sale or no sale we feel good knowing one more virtual tour shopper out there is better informed about the industry that we love so much. Happy shopping and we hope we can keep you better informed. Our doors are always open to you for your virtual tour technology and industry questions.

Virtual Tour of a Galley Kitchen

Since I began working as the Virtual Tour Track Administrator for www.realtourvision.com I’ve heard from many virtual tour photographers about the impossibility of taking a good shot of a Galley Kitchen. Honestly, I do have to admit I thought some were exaggerating. I mean, how hard could it be to get a good shot of a kitchen, right? I decided to put it to the test so I pulled out my trusty, yet bottom of the line, point and shoot digital camera to try it out for myself. I then proceeded to take about 10-15 pictures of my tiny Galley Kitchen and uploaded them into my computer.

I was a bit surprised and a quite chagrined to discover that most of them were bad! I mean, after all I fancy myself an amateur photographer and have been taking pictures since I was 13! After stewing a little in my failure and pondering the results of my little experiment I decided that it would be fun to have a Submit Your Best Galley Kitchen contest on the Virtual Tour Track section of the RTV Support Forum. If you are a Real Tour Vision provider you can access the forum through your builder site, scroll down to the bottom of the Forum and you’ll find the Tour Track discussion area. Once there you can check out the virtual tour photos from my experiment and submit your own best galley shot. Once I have enough submissions I will create a poll so everyone can vote, so be sure to check back!

Jacque Stephens-Burke, your friendly Tour Track Administrator

Quick solution to a long distance problem.

Shortly after we became a Real Tour Vision provider, one of our REALTOR clients called with an urgent request for a 360 virtual tour. We needed to create a virtual tour for an “Estate” home. She had a potential client from the west coast visit the home while on business as he was possibly going to be transferred to PA. The transfer came and he remembered the home but his wife couldn’t get back to see it. This created the need for the tour to see if this home was a contender for their family. We created & posted the tour and sent a link as quick as we could. We found out about a week later the house was sold off our virtual tour!

His wife saw the tour and decided it was the right home for them from the tour and faxed contracts to secure their new home. This also solidified our value with a local REALTOR who has become a great client and friend.

Keith and Robin Volker
A www.realtourvision.com Full Service provider

Why are Real Tour Vision providers Better?

The answer here is very simple. Real Tour Vision signs up people daily that take the time to actually research the virtual tour industry. Sure, we get the people that close and sign up on the first phone call too, but we normally get the educated and driven people that are very serious about starting up a virtual tour company and owning their own tour business. Many of our virtual tour providers have started up businesses in the past and already have sales and marketing experience and of course there are those who do not. Either way no matter who you are or what your past experiences with business are as you continue to research the industry you will find that all roads keep leading back to us.

We offer more startup support and feature rich tours than anyone else out there. One look at our virtual tours will tell you that we put our providers first and that means most all of our upgrades and enhancements go right back into our tour technology. Our providers walk into offices with confidence knowing that they are offering the very best technology out there. All in all we have a great well rounded program that is very simple and easy to use allowing anyone to create fantastic feature rich virtual tours in a short amount of time for only a small amount of investment. Being a Real Tour Vision provider is being the leader in your market and making the educated choice.

Quality Counts – Real Estate Photography

The (now famous) NY TIMES article Make Every Pixel Count has been referred to several times on different real-estate blogs since it appeared on 2/11/2007. It hasn’t appeared yet on the new-improved-and-official Real Tour Vision Virtual Tour Company Blog, so here goes….

My take on the article (aside from the obvious) is this – Realtors exist to better assist home buyers/sellers complete the transaction because they are “experts in their field”. Four out of five home sellers are better off employing the aid of a Realtor even though there is the commission involved – they are virtually guaranteed to sell the home faster and/or for more $. The headaches and “lack of quality” involved in trying to sell a home w/o the aid of a realtor is difficult, since they are the “experts in their field”.

The same advice applies to the photography of the property; four out of five realtors are not experts at taking photos and/or applying the post-production techniques necessary for the best results. Get an expert to assist you with this.

Another point – the pictures and 360 virtual tours that will be showcased with that property are not merely meant to assist with the sale of that property – they showcase the Realtor’s professionalism and attention to details pertaining to every other aspect of his business. Shoddy pictures indicate to me that this is a Realtor who “doesn’t have his/her act together”. What else are they missing??


Jason Bennett
Nashville Virtual Tours & Photography
A www.realtourvision.com Full Service provider