Blog Tag: virtual tour network

A Virtual Tour Emergency

No…This is NOT Nancy. ;0

 I remember when I started my Nova Scotia virtual tour business http://www.supernovastudios.ca a year ago some of the naive misconceptions I had about the business.

First, I thought my phone would ring off the wall, with very little effort on my behalf. I was a FIRM believer in my product, had teamed up with RTV the leader in virtual tour software and was sure everyone would be scrambling to buy my virtual tours. Not so much. Nova Scotians are behind the times, real estate agents are not used to investing any money into their properties and didn’t recognize the value of interactive media. Over 90% of agents don’t even have their own websites!! YEIKES

It took a lot of hard work on my part by first; taking the social ignition course offered through the RTV Inner Circle Marketing, then rewriting the course for Canadians and finally offering classes to local Realtors. Bit by bit they were seeing the light.

My second largest misconception was that by purchasing an expensive DSLR camera (Canon Rebel EOS) I would magically become a professional photographer. Again… not so much. I read my manual – 3 times. I hired the local photographer to give me classes. I took online video tutorials, bought books from Chapters, but have never been happy with my photos. And, never relaxed while shooting the photos. One house I had to go back to 3 times. Another house the photos were all black and I had to lighten 200% in Photoshop. I had stitching error after stitching error and couldn’t wait until the day when I could outsource my photography.

One of my biggest accomplishments in the past year is the number one spot on Google for my keywords. Go ahead and search for Nova Scotia virtual tours. I started on page 7 and it took a year of blogging, keeping the content fresh on my site, paying attention to keyword density and MORE blogging to get there. Blood sweat and tears – but it’s a pretty powerful feeling to be able to control Google.

Last week I made my first 100% Search Engine sale because of that number one ranking on Google. Sotheby’s International out of Toronto called this small town Nova Scotia virtual tour provider http://www.supernovastudios.ca to shoot a tour an hour and 20 minutes from my office. I was ecstatic, proud, but nervous. They are a top notch professional company with amazing photos on their site.

And what a day I had. I organize the night before. Empty all photos off the camera, charge the battery, load the car, print out directions – everything is ready to go. So when I set up in their living room 10 minutes ahead of schedule, I was organized. Imagine my surprise though, when after 3 photos my camera died! That’s right! Deader than a nit! I broke out in a sweat, turned if off, turned it on, took out the battery, rubbed it – breathed on it, shook it – NOTHING! OMG!!!! Imagine my embarrassment to have to go to the home owner and tell them I can’t shoot their tour today.

Of course the first thing they asked me was, “Didn’t you bring a spare battery?????” “No” I said, “It’s not the battery, it had a full charge”. They were insistent the tour be shot that day, she had worked hard to clean the house, and I really wanted to accommodate her. So, back in the car I drive 45 mins to town to the ONLY camera shop in miles and buy a point and click!!! That’s right – this “professional” virtual tour photographer bought a point and click camera. (Nikon P7000) The photographer and store owner assured me he had never heard tell of a Canon Rebel just dying like that….

I had been speaking with Daniel McAllister (a fellow RTV provider and friend) about my photography woes just a week prior. He had sent me a link to one of his BEAUTIFUL virtual tours that he shot with a point and click. A seed had been planted and I had no idea just how quickly I would have the opportunity to make a decision that would be a complete game changer for me. As I was driving in to town, I knew…. there would not be another DSLR in my future.

Point and click in hand I leave for the 45 min drive back to the property and I realize – OMG my rotator is calibrated to the Canon? These pictures will NOT stitch. I put in an emergency call to RTV and had Jason, Torie AND Ben all working on my behalf. Ben dropped everything and talked me through calibrating the rotator on the spot. What was supposed to be a nice morning on the shore had become an all day affair.

With baited breath I downloaded the photos, opened them all in Photoshop and prepared to stitch. Praying, crossing my fingers, making promises to the Camera Gods. The photos looked good in Photoshop. I highlighted, removed shadows (by mid afternoon it was very overcast) but now it was the real test. Tour Builder…. And guess what? Yep – they didn’t stitch as perfectly as they do when properly calibrated.

I had held it together all day. Was so proud of the way I accommodated the vendors and maintained my professionalism. In fact we became friends, exchanged home phone numbers and are going to dinner together this weekend. But when the pictures didn’t stitch after a 9 hour day, this emotional girl was spilling tears on the keyboard. A quick glance at the clock and I realize RTV has gone home for the day. Plan B – my RTV family on Facebook!

I quickly write a status update (that only RTV providers can see) and ask for help. Daniel McAllister was immediately there offering for me to send my pictures and he would try to stitch. (Daniel – I have mad love for you baby, you rock my world. xo) As I’m sending the photos to Daniel I’m looking at them, they look odd to me. Aren’t they supposed to be on their side? I rotate them all in Photoshop and re-stitch, this time they stitch PERFECT! Duhhhh….

Check it out – http://rtvpix.com/RE-2536-JS8EB8-01  Not bad for the first time with my new camera and a calibrated rotator on the fly. But I couldn’t have done it by myself. Without the team at RTV headquarters, Daniel and the other RTV providers who were quick to come to my rescue on Facebook.

So, I guess my largest misconception about my virtual tour business was that I was in it alone. I’ve NEVER been alone at RTV from day one. I belong to a team. A family. That stop what they’re doing to be there for me. A team I can count on.

My little point and click is a game changer for the camera-phobic Nova Scotia virtual tour provider. The best in it’s class it offers amazing resolution, HD video, and all you have to do is POINT AND CLICK! hahahaha No more stitching errors, no more re-shoots, no more black photos. I’m lovin’ my point and click and I love RTV. Thanks guys! xo

To book your Nova Scotia virtual tour call 1-877-745-TOUR or visit our website at http://www.supernovastudios.ca

Have Facebook questions? Ask me on my fan page http://www.facebook.com/NovaScotiaVirtualTours


Is Your Website Down

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


Big Mikes Take on Social Networking

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


Using The Virtual Tour Social Networking Utility

According to the 2007 NAR Profile of Buyers and Sellers, 84% of all buyers and 87% of first time buyers use the internet as an information resource during their search for a home. In the 25-44 age group this number jumped to 91% of all home buyers. Also, according to the same survey, 33% of all buyers are using now using social networking sites with 19% using them at least a few times a week.

This makes it more important than ever to incorporate social networking tools into your overall marketing strategy. Fortunately, RTV virtual tour software has just made your job much easier!
The software powering your RTV virtual tours now includes a Social Networking tool that allows viewers to bookmark your tours within their social networks with just a click of their mouse!


End users simply select ‘Social Bookmarks’ form the ‘Share Tour’ menu and the icons will appear at the bottom of the tour instantly. Share the news about this new tool with your sellers at your next listing presentation!


New Inner-Circle Virtual Tour Marketing Material Posted

Follow-up with your customers and increase your upsell income! Download your choice of two available postcards in your residential marketing section. While you are there, don’t forget to download your Social Networking Guide. We will be going over social networking during the next episode of the ‘Formula’, so get your guide now and get started early.

What is Inner-Circle membership?

While all RTV providers have access to our Business Resource Center, RTV Inner-Circle membership takes it several steps further.

The RTV Business Resource Center (BRC) is one of the many things that separate RTV providers from the competition. As an RTV provider, you are never alone when it comes to starting, growing, and marketing your business. The BRC was created to help you establish your business correctly the FIRST time. Based on almost 10 years of industry experience, the BRC is your free business road-map. At RTV we believe that our success is wholly dependent upon your success as a small business owner, so in 2008 we acquired Rock Pointe Marketing to focus our business development and marketing programs on you.

Inner-Circle membership is an optional upgrade available to all RTV providers. Inner-Circle membership entitles you to advanced virtual tour marketing programs, authoritative webinars, done-for-you customer newsletters, immense interactive PowerPoint presentations, Industry Research, and fresh marketing materials every month. As an Inner-Circle member you will also have access to a multitude of business resources to help you to put your business on the fast-track to success.

While RTV Inner-Circle virtual tour marketing membership is an optional service, we highly encourage you to join. The price of annual membership is an absolute bargain when compared to the amount of money that you would invest in hiring an outside marketing firm to market your business for just one month. Just visit your the RTV RPM Marketing Center and upgrade your membership today!

Team RTV
RTV, Inc
Virtual Tour Software Company