Tourbuzz.net – An Easy Way To Provide Tours For Real Estate Photography Clients

January 19th, 2016

TourBuzzDave in Toronto asks:

I’m a Real Estate Photographer in Toronto and I’ve been looking for another source for making websites (tours) for my client’s listings.  At the moment, I’m using Rapidweaver.  It does the job but I’m looking for something easier.  Do you have any suggestions?  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

I use TourBuzz.net and I believe that it is the best tour hosting company available for independent real estate photographers. This is coming from someone who has made their own tours for years, tried almost everything out there and participated in founding a tour hosting company.

Here are some of my favorite features of TourBuzz:

  1. Inexpensive: It only costs $12 USD/tour if you purchase 10 tours at a time.
  2. Great customer service: This is frequently overlooked and it’s hard to do but Paul and Alan, the TourBuzz founders have done a great job with customer service.
  3. Use any media: You can use stills, 360s, or video and mix all three in the same tour.
  4. A Variety of flexible formats: Plenty of varied formats from the simple unbranded form above to branded formats that agents like to modern formats that work well on mobile devices. All of them have a great user interface. I love the fact that TourBuzz tours have large photos that can fill any screen.
  5. Tours last forever: Not everyone needs this but I like it. Here is the tour I use for a demo in my book. It’s a listing my wife and I had back in 2007 when I was still shooting 360s.
  6. Many Great Business features: TourBuzz has many built-in features like invoicing and photo delivery.

And this is far from a complete list!

 

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25 Responses to “Tourbuzz.net – An Easy Way To Provide Tours For Real Estate Photography Clients”

  • Agree with Larry about TourBuzz. For the money, it is a very versatile site that has many options. I use another site that while not as robust, has and is very stable and provided super customer service. I have run several hundred tours through them and it has served me well. The site is http://pfretour.com/ and is a priced around $10 a tour or discounted further if you buy 10 or more.

    I have been thinking about using both, TourBuzz for a premium price point and PRFE for normal tours. Just to busy now to work it out.

    One thing to think about is using the sites options to show a portfolio of all your tours. A nice touch when you get a new agent wanting to see some of your actual work delivered. Not some cherry picked portfolio.

    Bottom line, both are simple to use and once you get dialed in, you can log in, complete your tour and log out within 10 minutes….well worth the small fee. That is assuming you are charging extra for the tour or have the fee built into your base cost. I find it works well if you give your client the option to have a tour or not.

  • Personally, I like the control and creativity I get with “Movie Maker” (Microsoft Windows)
    I can ‘walk’ the viewer through the listing using pan (up, down & side to side), zoom (in & out from all angles).
    I can also adjust how frames blend into each other, adjust the time each frame is seen, add text, etc.
    After I’ve built the tour I match it to royalty free music.

    On the down side, my customers can’t track the views, but I get nothing but compliments.
    Here’s a recent example…..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4rN2YYF9nk

  • While I understand wanting to be “creative” and have control, the time spent on the product has to be profitable if you want to have a viable business.

    Using a tour service that hosts the tours, takes care of all the links for mls compliant, full branded, photos only, tracking when, where and how many, etc and takes less than 10 minutes to create is well worth the few dollars.

  • I too agree with Larry – I have used Tourbuzz from the beginning. Their templates options, video and stills, branded, unbranded and plain are all the best I have found on line, plus the cost. The best part is that Tourbuzz is fast, easy and sends out data updates to your REALTORS that love seeing where buyers are coming from when they view their listings. Also a one button touch to send the tour to your local MLS and also now REALTOR.com. Just my two cents worth!

  • Tour Buzz is the best for all of the reasons that you mentioned. It’s also a great way to market my business! But more importantly it works well for my clients. Created a Virtual Tour and a YouTube Video for a recent listing and the property went under contract in 3 days. The VT was syndicated automatically by Tour Buzz to the MLS and Realtor dot com. Plus they created the Video which I posted to my channel. I then posted links to Twitter, Linkedin and my Face Book Page. Very effective client marketing service and they like the weekly click through Stats Report to share with sellers. Everyone’s happy!

  • Jerry Miller makes a very good point. The old adage “time is money” is (and will always be) true.

    In my case I can build and upload a tour in about 15 or 20 minutes.
    I have to admit that I haven’t done any real research with Tourbuzz, so I don’t know how much time would be involved. (picking & labeling images, setting up Tourbuzz, etc)

    However. In my eyes, the object of a tour is to pleasantly show the home as you would walk through it, keeping the time to less than 3 minutes (the proven limit when viewers loose interest)
    Again. without researching this much, the Tourbuzz examples I’ve seen rely on labels to show what rooms are. I also haven’t seen any with images that pan or zoom, making them (in my opinion) rather boring.

    When I started this business 18 months ago, one goal I had was to rise above the cream and keep my name in the pool when agents talk about the best.
    Without ringing my own bell too loud, from everything I’ve heard I’ve achieved this. I believe my tours are part of this.

    Having said all this, I might point out that I have other income and don’t need to shoot 2 or 3 listings per day. I have more time for everything, and understand that others don’t.

  • $12 per tour created seems very reasonable. In my search for homes, the tour gives me a more personalized view of the house especially if I am relocating to another state.

  • I’m curious how everyone handles setting these tours up so the client is happy. I worked as a web site designer for many years, and there was so much back and forth on the simple things, like finalizing the wording of a single sentence. So I wonder how much something similar happens with setting up a tour.

    Do you create the tour and upload the photos, then let the client log in and add all of the wording, like “Beautiful, fully remodeled kitchen with view of the ocean”? It sounds like a trivial matter, but getting caught up in a lot of back and forth of “Can you change the wording on the photo of the bathroom to say blah, blah, blah, instead of yada yada…” just makes me kind of cringe. So I find myself not offering tours because of the potential hassle and time.

    -Jesse

  • @Jesse, Handling clients (agents), is simple, they have very little, if any input to the tour. Of the several hundred that I have done, there have only been a handful that wanted a change in music or a photo removed at their clients request (Expensive painting, children photos, etc).

    For the newbie agent who wants to be all hands on, involved in every step, we offer the “custom tour” that is billed out as it goes through the process. Once they see how much it will cost, they back off.

  • @Jesse – Tourbuzz has a feature called the agent control panel, that allows the agent to login after you’ve setup the tour and rearrange the photos, change the descriptions so it lets all those picky customers have the control of their tours they want. The Tourbuzz agent control panel completely gets you out of that loop!

  • I forgot about that feature Larry, but yes, both PFRE and Tourbuzz have that great option.

    One thing that I also remember is the time I had to spend hand holding agents with how to use that feature……

  • Thanks for the feedback, guys. Good to know that there is an agent control panel. The thought of getting into constant editing of the wording is just not something I want to get into.

    -Jesse

  • @Jesse… There are several things that make it efficient. When you set up a client, you do it once. Future tours use that framework/selections as the default which you can always change. Clients can do virtually everything with the agent portal except upload or delete photos to/from the server. As a courtesy, I fill in their description of the home, but it is a simple cut/paste from what they wrote in MLS. If they want to change it, rearrange the photos, or change the music, they can do that through the agent portal. It is necessary to go back a few days after I send them the link – and I have a few trained to tell me when they launch the listing in MLS. At that point, I bring up the listing to get the MLS #, view the tour to make sure they posted the unbranded one, and copy/paste. A recent change with Realtor.com, you no longer have to be a Picture Path photographer (or whatever they called it) to send the link, but as soon as you input the MLS#, it auto-sends to Realtor.com and there is no longer a fee for Realtors that did not subscribe to their higher service.

    Also, for a very nominal fee, it can be exported as a mp4 file – branded, unbranded or both – to their You Tube channel.

    One other advantage it has is with panoramics. Unlike some of the major competition where the cylinder is set a 360 – and the subsequent distortion with partial panos, with Tourbuzz, you can specify the Field of View and adjust the cylinder accordingly. I use to use Huggin for stitching but their new version ruined the simplicity. Now stitch with Photoshop or Lightroom which won’t tell me my FOV like Huggin, so I estimate the arc. My stitched file might have the filename “Front FOV 160” which I upload, then the intermediate step delete out the FOV 160 leaving “Front” as the label and insert the 160 in the field reading 360.

  • @Larry Gray I heard about the Realtor.com dropping their fee awhile back, but after checking, found that was not the case. Do you have any links to the notification that they have now dropped their fee?

  • How many TourBuzz users have and/or do take advantage of their floor plan tours? Can you comment on this feature?

  • In my market, most agencies have the option to create their own tours through the agency’s marketing. My wife, who is a realtor, tells me that the tours “auto-populate” when generating the listing in the MLS. I’ve debated the validity of that claim, but sure enough 30 minutes after she creates the listing, there’s a branded tour on youtube. It grabs the photos and all relevant data and sure enough… auto-populates.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mB0miWslnvc

    Sure, it could be a lot better. The panning is horrible, the resolution is poor, etc. Sure, I could a better job with tour factory or something, but why?
    In the past 3 years I’ve only had one agent ask for a tour… once.

  • The old adage “You get what you paid for” holds true for the freebie tour that the agency above provides for their agents. Maybe in that particular market area, that is the quality that is accepted and expected. With that in mind, I can see why agents would choose to pass on tours in that area.

    On the other hand, if you produce a few tours to show the difference in quality, options and what they could expect, it might set you above the rest of the heard

  • An interesting thread. I moved from being a Photographer for a RE Photography business to buying it. One of the key reasons for purchasing it was the propriety website. It is phenomenal and was built from the bottom up for a RE Photography business and is basically a 1 stop shop for everything. Before buying the business I had been looking at going out on my own using a 3rd party website/portal that offered a RE photographer this functionality but none provided everything.
    On my website clients create an account, place the order (order options and prices can be specifically set for different RE agencies). An automated email response is sent to the client and then I can assign a photographer who also gets an email. The photographer and client schedule a date/time and that is entered on the website and the photographer and client get an automated email with the schedule details, date time and property address. Once the shoot is complete images are uploaded. The website creates 3 different slideshows (branded, unbranded and just images) just like Tourbuzz seems to. It also creates options for the client to download images individually or all together in 3 sizes (full size, MLS specific and web specific). Once images are uploaded we have several different templates for the slideshows that we select from and then we send the links with 1 click to the client where they can directly access the slideshows and the downloads. Payment is then processed online ( 1 click ) and the client receives an automated email that the payment has been made. What gets cool for the office and the client is that they can then adjust the order of their images by a simple drag and drop. Then can also chose what slideshow template they like, can add headshot and company logo to their account (when in their account they show on all orders and slideshows), detailed property description etc.. All these details can be entered at any time by the client. All they actually have to enter for placing the order is the address and price (can be 0).
    The website has amazing functionality on the backend for us too. Full reporting of orders exported to cvs or excel files with all sorts of parameters and date range options including sorting photographers, processors, salespeople and Downloading of the clients contact database. Unlimited set up of package prices and options and ability to set these specific to agents, clients. The slideshows shows full contact details of the client, a map, a mortgage calculator and the proper description. We can also simply embed a youtube link for virtual tours which display on the clients slideshow. I can set multiple processors, multiple photographers and multiple salespeople to orders so we can assign shoots to them. I also have my terms of service and guidelines for preparing the property for the shoot embedded into the automated emails.

    The functionality and options for the client are amazing. More amazing is it has everything for me to run the business all through a single portal, the website. No jumping to other websites or software to process payments. No going to an email program to send notifications to clients or photographers. No using third party websites to create slideshows. No separate bookkeeping of orders. Everything is all in 1 place.

    Cheers

  • @Jerry Miller…back in May 2015 they dropped the fee. I copy and pasted the email I received from them for you to read. I “X’ed” out the contact person’s name at realtor.com.

    Yes the $19.95 is being waived in billing right now, even though the PicturePath system shows that you will be charged. Yes you can continue to use the http://imaging.homestore.com/ppgui/upload/login.jsp for a few more months. Once we are no longer supporting this system, you will either need to have all of your agents load their virtual tours thru their Realtor.com Control Panels or get set up with an API system. Our easiest suggestions for getting set up with an API is to contact TourBuzz.com and get set up to work thru them. Otherwise, the API Documentation on how to build your own are attached.

    If have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

    Thank You,
    XXXXXX XXXXXXX
    Virtual Tour Support
    Move, Inc. l realtor.com®

  • While I applaud the existence of this site/blog and its value in the arena of real estate photography I find it shameful that it is biased towards one particular tour hosting platform. There are other options but somehow they are seldom or never mentioned.

    I would think a blog like this should remain neutral in it’s views and presentation of options to its readers why not let your readers decide what’s best.

  • @Matti – I’m not opposed to having a poll to see which tour hosting vendor is popular You should disclose that you are a tour vendor.

    Which tour vendors to you want to see initially on the poll? Veewme.com, PFREtour.com, tourbuzz.net, RealTourVision.com, virtuallyshow.com, MatterPort.com? I’m inclined to leave off companies like TourFactory.com that don’t work for independent real estate photographers.

    Which ones did I miss that you want to see on the poll? I’ll also add tour hosting companies to the poll as readers mention them.

  • @Larry – I thought it would be self serving if I mentioned a name therefore I withheld it. But if you wish, yes I am a tour vendor. I wasn’t asking nor referring to a popularity contest or who’s best. I just thought that it would be nice and fair to include someone other than TourBuzz in your write ups, and let the photographers judge what suits them best.

  • @Matti – In the past I’ve not had a good reader-driven mechanism for creating a list of vendors and collecting reader feedback on the various vendors but on Jan 14th I started an outsourcing vendor list (http://photographyforrealestate.net/outsourcing/). So far it’s worked well. Perhaps I should make a similar list (Tour Hosting Vendors).

  • There is no doubt left about the importance of virtual tours for marketing a property nowadays. Photos are simply not enough!

  • I am looking at changing my company a bit, I’ve been shooting virtual tours since 2002 – I have always used a tour company to upload to so that my tours can be posted on the MLS systems, and realtor.com, trulia, etc.. I tried out TourBuzz today and liked the platform. I have been with RTV (Real Tour Vision) for many years, but they are paying a lot of attention to the google market, and hotels now. They have not updated their system in a long time, and the tours take a long time to produce. I’m a little nervous about switching, and was looking for some advise on this site. It seems that many people do like TourBuzz, so I may make the switch. The only thing I did not like is that is costs $3 (3 credits) to download the tour so that you can burn a CD. RTV does not charge for that. RTV is also less expensive, $10 per tour if you buy a minimum of 10 tours (so $100 worth). I’m going back and forth with the reasons why I want to do this. Change, a better platform, easier, you can change the look (many choices) with TourBuzz, and you don’t have many options with RTV (just 2).

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