I’ve invited Tony Carter to talk about how a virtual tour for your property will help you increase your direct bookings.
Tony Carter talks about the importance of the virtual tour
We run a company called Converts. And offering all manner of event massive media virtual tours being a particularly popular service that we offer at the moment, my background is I’ve always been quite a tacky sort of sound like design and whatnot, work in theatre and then got into photography. And then when virtual reality sort of crossed my radar. I was “Yeah!”, it was just it seemed too good to have an opportunity to pass off. So I got into it as a bit of a sideline, give me a bit of a hobbyist, people sort of add friends in who were to museums. Who once they saw what we could do, realize that was a great opportunity. So yeah, we became a business from there.
We started becoming a proper business about two years ago. Before that, it was to do with the kind of occasion. I’d see what we don’t like, we didn’t say be like a museum that we did. One of the first things we did, we did Radford museum and then somebody in, I think, Wakefield, so it was kind of we started very much in West Yorkshire, oddly enough, and then built from there, but it was just completely word of mouth.
I’m based in Liverpool. We do a lot of students accommodation for the big student accommodation providers, and that’s all over the country, so we go all over, you know, it’s nice to keep it North but yeah we go wherever.
The rental things absolutely kicking off at the moment, to be honest, it’s taken a while for people to realize the benefits for museums and art galleries because they had a lot of the other kind of business. It was eye-opening up to a wider audience, both for the service accommodation was seen and it’s a huge value. It allows people to walk around your property before seeing it. Whilst people are actually in the property, you could call tags in, so sort of instruction manuals on how to work the dishwasher or whatever you know. It kind of you leaving a book of instructions for people to follow. We can put little videos in of how to do things, so it’s kind of the whole property, it’s good for your marketing, it’s also good to reduce those phone calls in the middle of the night asking random questions.
Why do you think there’s the sudden shift into virtual tours at the present moment time?
I think there’s a huge trust thing on my background, I’ve got a bit forcefield, I did quite a bit of photography, and we kind of all know that photography can help you. As a photographer, you can lie about how something looks you know, you can say from a staging point of view, you can take consider the angles of the room. You can make your room look much bigger you can kind of hide areas, and I think with the internet, people doing more and more shopping online, and more bookings online. I think it allows people to walk around your space, walk around your accommodation. It gives them a sense of trust, that gives them a sense of belonging. If they can have more invested in that place, you know, divide a little lock in the toilet, in the bathroom, kind of wander around the kitchen, you’ve looked in all the nooks and crannies and also it gives a sense of perspective, a sense of space.
So one of the first ones we did was a guy who had a property in the Anglesey. Out of Anglesey just in North Wales, and it was a property for 12 people. He said the number of times he had phone calls are you sure we can sleep 12 there’s a big group because it’s a little low division, and he said the photographer who photograph and video didn’t give them a sense of perspective. It didn’t show how big the property was. So once you allow people to physically walk around in a 3D environment, in a virtual space, it does kind of shows it off. And also, as I say, you can’t hide people realize, for one I’m not yet around there, it’s indoors in stellaris instills a sense of trust, which I think is largely missing online
What would be some of the key questions that the host should be asking in hiring someone to do the virtual tour?
I go on, you know, because sort of a bit of a geek, like before I got into this, I looked into all the different types of 360 tools, virtual tours, what’s the 3D tour. There’s a myriad of different options and from like kind of group, Google Street View type thing, which is it’s a 360 image, which can kind of walk all around. Still, it’s quite, it’s that static image. And you put an arrow which takes you to the next static image with something like that, that can be of great value.
However, there are two very important points of the virtual tour. One is the quality of the imagery. Does it look great? Does it look a lot good? And also is it user-friendly, the two things you want, is to look good, and you want people to want to use it, you want it to be easy to use as possible. Otherwise, people are just going to click off and go elsewhere. So they’re the two things that I kind of always look for because we find an incredible amount of people that I speak to when I’m doing sort of strike selling tools or discuss tokens or venues. They had a virtual tour of what they’ve got, what they could cite as a virtual tour on their website, and you go on it, and you feel safe — trying to use it because you’re spinning it upside down.
And you might as well not have anything there, you might have a nice static image because people would be much, much better for your marketing. So I think yeah, maybe it is user-friendly, and it wants its user-friendly. The benefits of keeping someone on your website for a period of time is your SEO. It’s just those untold glorious things to your SEO, because you probably discussed like bounce rates and what have you and things on your podcast before but the more people spend time on your site, your search engine robots see that as having valuable content. So your ranking, it does helps on top of the rankings.
When you get the tour, where can they submit?
As our tools are unique in that, but that’s another thing that I should have mentioned before about when you look for the kind of what you look for in a virtual source, something really bad at their sports. One thing that’s worth looking at is, have you got any ongoing fees? Where’s your tool being hosted? What are you getting for your money? I say there’s a variety of options out there. A lot of them, you’ve created your source, somebody comes around, they scan your building, they tell to take 360 photographs. However they want to do it, and then the deliverable at the end I think you get for your money, what is it you’re getting? A lot of people do use different systems and a lot of systems; you get a link to a hosted website to host the tour on a website. That’s you never actually have any control over that. Or you can, by all means, put on your websites. Yes, you can put on your Google business page. You can share it on social media. However, third parties are always going to own your tour, and you’re just renting it off them. So that data doesn’t belong to you. Now that was important to me. As a sort of business decision rarely is that it seemed like an uncomfortable.
Also what we do is include little one video walkthroughs because social media people tend to just you know, can you have like a short walkthrough, but with the link, if people want to invest more time, then they can kind of go and do the video before it kind of just a little draw for people through.
What is your favourite business book?
This is the took on holiday last year and sat by the pool reading this, and it was just mind-blowing, and I’m sure everybody’s read it, and I’m the last person so valuable speech. E-myth by Michael Gerber if it would just immediately you want to come back and restructure your business at the way it’s brilliant very very easy to read and yeah I would recommend that to anybody who’s in business it’s fantastic.
What is your favourite podcast or YouTube channel?
YouTube is a tendency to only watch it with my son and with its Genevieve’s Playhouse that’s Cookie Monster is his favourite song, and that’s where we spend a lot of time but personally when I’m driving yet also podcasts all the way. The Bugle I don’t know if anyone read that. But it’s a kind of a satirical political podcast and a bit of you know, true crime and what have you as truth and justice of a wide variety of things?
What is your favourite purchase in the last year that is under 100 pounds?
On droppable just under 100 coming in only under 100 pounds, and the DJI Osmo Mobile 3G to gimbal for your phone from ATM video. I had the DJI Osmo plus which had a camera and everything but mobile cameras on mobile phones and I was so ridiculous that I got rid of a lot of the camera kit and now we use a phone for a lot of my video and photography.
What is the biggest pain point in your businesses right now?
It’s still educated it’s always has been like still as educating potential clients because it’s a new technology and it’s educating people about the benefits is it’s that stuff rather than selling that don’t do any selling, or just it’s all education?
What is your company’s superpower?
We’re the only company in the UK that was you know; I’m going to stay with where we are. Our tours are the highest quality of anybody out there. Quality-wise that image quality, wise and usability. Also, you can download our tours and run them on your desktop you can host them yourself that nobody else offers that. So it doesn’t seem like a lot but for me again keeping the ability to own it yourself I think is invaluable. You can find out more here