How Can You Compete Against TourFactory

February 12th, 2015

CompetingWTourfactoryMike in Knoxville said:

Can we get an update on marketing against TourFactory? I’ve read your 2009 post and maybe more might be said now.

TourFactory has always been a great example of a great tour that includes other marketing products for property marketing. And in many markets independent real estate photographers need to compete against TourFactory. So what can you do to compete against TourFactory tours? Independents cannot use TourFactory tours as a part of their product.

I think that in recent years TourBuzz.net is a natural solution for competing against TourFactory. TourBuzz.net has most (not all) of the features of TourFactory and TourBuzz.net is designed for independent real estate photographers. A couple of things you might provide in addition to TourBuzz.net tours would be, Rider signs with the URL/QRcode of the tour and high-quality flyers if these features are important in your market.

Mike’s question prompted me to go check out what Tere Foster, one of the top luxury listing agents in the Seattle market and the US, is doing for marketing these days. Tere used to use TourFactory.com for her tours. She no longer does. Rather the “Virtual Tour” links on her listings are all just video these days. This is an indication that at least in the luxury Seattle market there is a trend towards using video rather than traditional tours. Seattle is a progressive market which may be ahead of other markets, but this suggests that one way to compete with TourFactory is to produce video to compete with traditional tours.

Do you compete with TourFactory in your market?

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15 Responses to “How Can You Compete Against TourFactory”

  • Though Tour Factory is good, I agree with Larry. Here’s a video tour I created, that I believe showcases the home better than any virtual tour could accomplish. TourBuzz is good too VT, but cinematic video is the next level.
    Tour video:

  • @Ben, beautifully made video! What do you do when an agent asks for a video like that for a $150,000 house and will not pay more than 100 bucks? I’ve had it happen.

  • I have noticed that Visual Tour (http://www.visualtour.com/) is also making its way into the Knoxville market. They are posting jobs on LinkedIn like gangbusters. That indicates to me that there is a growing interest in virtual tours there.

    I agree with Ben that cinematic style is the way to go (not surprising given my background in film), but I think showing potential buyers what life can be like in the home is more valuable than simply showing the home.

    Even if you don’t have access to a “cast” to act out the daily activities, perhaps try to get the seller and/or agent to talk about their favorite aspects of the home and then use it as voiceover.

  • There are other tour hosting solutions than Tourbuzz. http://veewme.com is one, which allows you to add a stylish full-motion video, photos, floor plans and panoramas.

  • There are some companies (Tour Factory Included) that require you to be a licensed Realtor in order to have an account. Has someone been able to get around this rule?

  • @Wanda- This is what TourFactory does to prevent use by independent RE photographers. The only way around this rule is buy a TourFactory franchise or work for TourFactory.

  • @Jerry You just decline. Its not worth your time at $100, and video is 2-3 times more labor intensive. If your goal is $100hr for instance, you would need to shoot, edit, and upload in that hour, which in my mind, only leaves a shooting window of 7 minutes. That’s not a walk-through tour, it’s more like a jog-through, or as we used to say in the house painting contractor industry, a “blow & go”.

    Secondly, many of the homes under $300K have flaws, and are not tidy the same way as upscale homes are. With stills, you can be selective about your angle, careful to omit thinngs that shouldn’t be seen… but video is unforgiving – every inch of the house really needs to be pristine.

  • @Derek hit it on the head. The point of using marketing is to show potential buyers why that want a certain listing. You have to help them envision what their life/ lives will be like in that space. I am proud to work for a company that believes in this value, and implements cutting-edge tools to maximize a listings marketing. PlanOmatic helps tell the story of a home. Are you doing the most you can to help buyers see themselves in your listing?
    http://www.planomatic.com

  • @Jerry – thank you! Regarding pricing, that’s a whole other issue. I know I’ve read Larry touch on that subject many times in the past.
    Additionally, cinematic style videos for low-end market… not sure if it makes the most sense, on multiple levels. (time, cost, ROI)

    @Derek – I agree, voiceover on video can be an effective tool, if done right.

  • We provide virtual tours. Using Tourbuzz now. Switching to proprietary tour in the next week. (designing ourselves.) We also do cinematic video. Jerry – eventually people will pay more to market a house once this becomes the norm. We have to tell the market what it needs and what these products are worth. If a client doesn’t want to pay what the product is worth, they will eventually when they are being outsold by clients that get it. We expect to faze out of virtual tours completely in the next few years.

  • I compete with Tourfactory in my area. I use Tourbuzz.net, and really like their product. I do wish that they would improve the flyers, but other than that I really like their product. I’m not going to get into the video vs. stills argument. Tourfactory also allows agents to just buy tours and upload their own photos. I’m glad Tourbuzz does not do that.

    The local franchisee for Tourfactory is horrible when it comes to photography. They are better than what an agent would do, but you won’t find a straight vertical anywhere in their photos.

  • Thank you, Larry, for the compliment of asking the question that this post poses.

    The pursuit of excellence that drives each entrepreneur to find better ways to serve customers is at the heart of the American Spirit. Competition is the fire that keeps us all focused and sufficiently motivated. Hopefully, we have made it somewhat challenging to answer the question, “How Can You Compete Against TourFactory?”

    But before anyone asks themselves that question, I hope they have first asked, “Should I Compete Against TourFactory… Or Should I Join Them?”

    There are reasons – good reasons – that joining us might not be a good fit for every photographer. But I hope every real estate photographer has sincerely entertained the idea. They are going fast, but we do have a few territories still open. We also have, from time time, a TourFactory Authorized Provider that wishes to retire and sell their established business. So in some cases, an existing territory, with a valuable book of business, can be bought. This can be an excellent way for someone new to jumpstart

    Thanks again, Larry, for the compliment of this post – and for all of your contributions to building up the real estate photography community.

  • What would most independent photographers like to see offered? A CMS? Floor plan tutorials? ect.?

  • Herb – The only aspect of this business I think TourFactory is a good example of is the marketing components of a tour they offer. I can’t recommend that anyone “join TourFactory”. I don’t pretend to understand all your business relationships with Photographers, but I believe that being independent is in the best interest of the photographer. There just is not a lot of profit margin in real estate photography so having to share the small profit in a shoot/tour with a large national company in any way just doesn’t in general make sense.

  • Larry,

    I believe like you that independence in entrepreneurship is great! Please allow the chance for me to add clarity to your comment about TourFactory business practices.
    TourFactory photographers are all independent businesses. We see the value of building a team spirit so that we can build upon each other nationally. TourFactory does the heavy lifting in supporting the photographers business and the photographer focuses on their art of photography. You mention cost so I will mention that the photographer sets their own pricing. Profits abound for the photographer. I welcome a hello or questions @annesperling

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