VirtualTourCafe - Virtual Tours, e-Flyers and YouTube-Style Video: What Makes a Virtual Tour a Virtual Tour?

What Makes a Virtual Tour a Virtual Tour?

It is well known that Virtual tours have been around a long time, as well as many virtual tour providers who offer everything from very basic tours with still images to full-service virtual tours including photography.  Some services even offer 360 degree panoramas and full-featured, customizable “Do-It-Yourself” virtual tour services. So, what is it that really qualifies it as a "Virtual Tour"?

Panorama ImageSome real estate professionals say in order to be called a virtual tour it must include at least one 360 degree panorama image.  Others say any slide-show of still images that presents the house in a virtual format (online), qualifies as a virtual tour.  I have heard many arguments on both sides of this discussion and feel we should discuss the "purpose" of a virtual tour before we get too bogged down by dictionary definitions.

As a real estate agent, why do you even need a virtual tour? After all, in this economy who really wants to spend more money on marketing? Here are a number of reasons an agent might create a virtual tour:

         To increase exposure and sell the property faster

         To attract long distance buyers

         To demonstrate your Real Estate Marketing skills

         To improve your company branding efforts

         To give the potential buyer a better view of the property, surroundings, or floor-plan

         To satisfy the seller

         To impress the seller

In reality, it is probably some combination of these reasons.

However, none of these reasons require a 360 degree panorama; however the buyer may get a better sense of the property and especially the neighborhood or yard with a panoramic image that gives the feeling of looking in a complete 360 degree view.  Some homes and larger rooms show better with a panorama while some are probably better displayed with a wide-angle (28mm) lens.

While reading the definition below, keep in mind your own objectives.  Real estate marketing is about representing the seller’s best interest and at the same time, positioning you as the online marketing expert! The online Wikipedia definition of Virtual Tour states:  

“A virtual tour is a simulation of an existing location, usually composed of a sequence of video images. They also may use other multimedia elements such as sound effects, music, narration, and text. The phrase "virtual tour" is often used to describe a variety of video and photographic-based media... the phrases "panoramic tour" and "virtual tour" have mostly been associated with virtual tours created using still cameras. Such virtual tours are made up of a number of shots taken from a single vantage point..”

So, what all this boils down to is "options".  A virtual tour, whether done professionally or a “Do-It-Yoursel Virtual Tour” service, should offer options to include still images in a slide-show format with good quality music, pleasing transitions, full and partial panoramas (optional), floor plans (optional), and even YouTube-style videos.  More buyers and sellers are searching YouTube for homes for sale, yes homes that are for sale!  YouTube is now the second largest search site online, not far behind Google who, owns YouTube!

Other features that have not been discussed include: social media, syndication, branding, website links, downloadable e-flyers, mobile-friendly, and high-definition images. So, look for a virtual tour provider that offers options that promote the listing, promote you, and is automated and easy to use with great support!  If it isn't easy to use and cost-effective, why take the time to do it anyway, right?

So, what do you think makes a virtual tour a virtual tour and why do you use them?


Comment balloon 3 commentsTim Denbo • February 02 2011 08:58AM


We have five senses. Most of us. And if you can use more than the eyeball and bring in the ear drum to show and tell, let the property and area and your brand talk for the instant connection. Well, that is a powerful quick way to deliver the buyer, seller to the community, property even if they are technically five states away in another time zone, zip code. Have 450 + videos working their hearts out and real full motion videos are powerful stuff.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) over 8 years ago

Thanks Tim, I can see we need to step it up with video.

Andrew, I looked at some of your videos in youtube, very nice. I sent a suggestion to my agents that they look too and learn how to take better videos. They walk around too much, I get dizzy sometimes. I have done still photo videos and they are ok, but I like your combo of both.

Posted by Jeanne Kozak, REALTOR and Broker/Owner in WV and VA (RE/MAX In Action) over 8 years ago

Jeanne, thank you for your comments and let us know if we can be of any assistance.

Andrew, thank you for the great insight into how you are reaching your customers.  Nice use of videos and community involvement, great job!


Posted by Tim Denbo, Tim Denbo, VirtualTourCafe (VirtualTourCafe, LLC) over 8 years ago

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