Spirit of VR Roadshow: Myrtle Beach, SC

There’s good news and bad news coming out of Myrtle Beach, SC heading into the fourth quarter of 2020. The bad news is that bookings since April never reached pre-pandemic levels. Even now, with many markets seeing an extended shoulder season, the streets are mostly empty along the Grand Strand. A few travelers taking a long weekend can be seen coming in and out of high rises along the coastline – a couple of which came all the way from Europe. For the most part, this market lost revenue when closures hit in March and never recovered it in the months following.

Why Low Bookings?

Myrtle Beach, SC is primarily a drive-to vacation rental market, which should have worked in its favor, as people stayed off airplanes for the majority of 2020. A couple of factors worked against this though.

  1. Myrtle Beach was a “hot spot” for spikes in COVID-19 cases in June and July. The vacationers trying to stay safe while still getting away, preferred destinations with plenty of accommodations for families, even extended families. The preference being single family homes, hopefully not too close each other. Myrtle Beach has even spread of condos, townhomes and single family homes, so not as many options for the 2020 preferences.
  2. Golf courses limited access deterred groups. It was like a one-two punch for this popular four-season market. Even though the golf courses where allowed to open, a major draw for this area, they could only do socially distant parties per government regulations.
  3. Most of the counties folks drive from to reach Myrtle Beach remained open for business – meaning restaurants and venues were hosting guests locally. This was not the case in drive-to locations for Outer Banks, NC. Those drive-from markets were in a take-out only or very limited capacity mode for many weeks.
  4. “Zoom-school,” as it is fondly referred to by parents, allowed drive-from visitors to stay in the Outer Banks while still working and doing online classes. Schools in drive-from markets for Myrtle Beach went back to school at the end of summer either totally in-person or split between in-person and online – an option Outer Banks visitors did not have.

While Myrtle Beach is considered a four-season market, it is not seeing the visitor traffic to its vacation rental websites, nor the advanced bookings it had last year. What property managers say they have their eyes on next is the upcoming election, as they expect the economy to move one way or the other based on its outcome.

Vacation rental companies here are toying with some lower than average rates for spring to entice visitors to return if conditions are conducive to do so. Brainstorming ideas in a vacuum is hard though and most of the contacts we spoke with had not been in contact with many of their peers.

Next top on the VR Roadshow is Panama City Beach, FL. Follow our journey on Facebook, or reach out to any participating sponsor for more information.

Special thanks to our sponsors Xplorie, Beyond Pricing, Brivo, RealTech, and Silicon Travel.

Spirit of VR Roadshow: Stop 1. Outer Banks, NC

“It’s unbelievably busy.”

The most common comment we heard at the first stop on our Spirit of VR Roadshow, which is a four-city tour sponsored by six companies: Xplorie, TruPlace, Brivo, BeyondPricing, Silicon, and RealTech. Since all industry events for 2020 have been cancelled, the Spirit of VR Roadshow emerged as a late-year, progressive move to get industry professionals together in a safe, socially distant environment. These roadshow stops are like amped up tailgating with food trucks and locally crafted beverages.

It was therapeutic for our clients to be able to come out to Sanctuary Vineyards on Oct. 27 and share their experiences with the rest of us in the industry. As vendors supporting these clients, we’ve heard a range of anecdotes depending on where in the U.S. our clients are located.

For Outer Banks, NC, their 2020 has been a roller coaster, but one that is ending on an up note. One company told us they had about 100 properties booked last year for Thanksgiving and this year they have over 250 booked.

Several managers shared that they have more than made up for the “shut down” in March and April, as well as most of May, when the entire island was closed to outside traffic – meaning if you were not a full time resident, even if you owned a house there, you were not allowed to enter.

What Shoulder Season?

Normally after Labor Day, traffic and visitors to this small, friendly area leave for the year. Instead, this year, they bought homes and stayed. Or, homeowners who normally rented their property out for nine months a year, decided to stop renting altogether. This conflux of activity has drained local cleaning resources and stretched restaurants thin.

Homeowners who would normally refurbish or reshoot their properties during this time of the year are doing neither. The number of available properties to rent is going down and the demand is going up. If you own a rentable house in Outer Banks and want to sell it, now would be the right time.


Spirit of VR Roadshow Set-UpVacation rental managers who were able to make it out to the event were thrilled to be able to share stories and bottles of wine. Many of us have not seen each other in almost a year. The mood was relaxed as the sun peaked out from gray October skies and we all enjoyed a hearty “Southern Parfait” from the Coinjock food truck – comfort food perfect for the end of a long, stressful season. In addition to the fun and food, the Spirit of VR Roadshow raised $475 for the Children & Youth Partnership of Dare County at this stop.

The next stop is Myrtle Beach, SC. We’ll report on what the mood is like there next.

New Single Property Website Designed to Showcase Homes Multiple Ways

There’s a saying that good design is good business. Since our clients are the business of selling or renting homes, we wanted to offer them a good design within which to do so. We’re introducing the new single property website that showcases real estate in multiple ways on an intentionally simple and clean page. The focus is on the property, not the design or graphics. The intention is to impress the person renting or buying, to inspire them to take the next step toward converting. This is more successfully accomplished by adding less, not more to the real estate webpage.

One Home Many Views

Going beyond the still photograph has allowed us help sell or rent properties sight unseen. Today’s immersive visuals, such as 3D tours and video walk throughs of homes, provide more information and a better look at every nook and cranny. With so many options for viewing a property, a single property website that hosts them all in an easily accessible layout can be incredibly helpful.

It’s Pretty, But It Also Works

One of the most successful marketing software companies added landing pages to its offerings because it knew how powerful a singular focus and call to action could be. In fact, most Fortune 500 companies use landing pages to convert. That’s essentially what this is – one singular, vertically scrolling page offering multiple opportunities to reveal unique aspects of the house that might catch someone’s eye. With as many properties as people shop these days, it’s advantageous to give a property every opportunity to be matched with the right buyer. We’ve also refreshed our interactive floor plan tour colors to coincide with the fresh, streamlined look.

It Starts With Amazing Photography

Showcasing a piece of real estate using a single property website will further highlight the quality of photography used on the house. To make this website page look its best, start with TruFusion HDR photography. The webpage itself should actually be an afterthought once the stunning visuals have made an incredible first impression.

Devil’s in the Details

A few features of this property website that were not an afterthought include the lead capture form at the bottom of the page. Every good marketer knows a timely call to action is priceless. The branded version will have a lead capture form allowing the viewer to send a message to the realtor with contact information for immediate follow up. To optimize the viewer’s experience, regardless of what device it’s being viewed on, each section is designed to softly align with the screen without requiring a manual adjustment. And, of course, sharing is key. There are social media and messaging icons for sending out the webpage to others.

View a demo of our new single property website for real estate, which is complementary with every order.

Senior Living Retirement Communities Use Interactive Floor Plan Tour to Aid Marketing

The most common visual marketing tools being used by the senior living communities are the interactive floor plan tour, virtual staging, and slideshow videos. Here’s why we believe these are so popular and such a great fit for this market.

The ability to market a senior living community requires more than showing happy people in stock photos. These communities are offering more than an apartment or condo. There is a level of trust a brand in this industry has to build to win over the hearts and minds of their future residents and, usually their children. That trust starts with providing more information about the facilities and the staff. When that communication needs to take place online instead of in person, there is one tool these marketers are turning to for its ease of use and affordability.

TruPlace’s Interactive Floor Plan Tours display cleanly and easily on a shared screen. They allow the presenter to click on several photos within each room, talking through each feature and upgrade. Unlike many 3D Virtual Tours which are challenging to navigate, Interactive Floor Plan Tours are known for their ease of use. There is enough information on the floor plan for the future resident to gain an understanding of what the space is like without being overwhelmed by confusing or blurry visuals. The virtual tour link can be shared as well over email, making it very quick for a viewer to click through the tour on their own time. The great thing about purchasing an interactive floor plan tour from TruPlace, is that it comes with all the photos required to build the tour, so there is no need to pay for or schedule a separate appointment.

Most retirement communities have floor plans for their model units. However, the photos and the floor plans are not connected in any way. The user has to decipher which photo corresponds with which room. By linking the photo to the right space within the property, the viewer no longer needs to guess. There are also room dimensions on each room label within the floor plan, and a voice-over narration feature that can be added to any property’s virtual tour.

Another creative solution helping senior living facilities is the post-photo shoot ability to provide virtual staging. This contactless service uses a large library of coordinating furniture collections to decorate each room in a unique style. Marketing teams from these communities enjoy the wide array of life-like options for cozy living rooms and modern dining sets to be inserted into the photography of the property. Virtual staging can even be done on outdoor living spaces such as decks and balconies.

One final product popular among retirement living sales professionals is the Cinematic Slideshow Video. This short but effective video uses existing photos from the appointment to highlight the best features of the property. Not only is it set to contemporary, upbeat music, but it also has enhancements such as screens moving on televisions and computers, white puffy clouds rolling by outside the windows, and warm fires that appear to be lit in the fireplaces. These videos are wonderful for catching attention on Facebook and other social media platforms.

With so much of our sales activities taking place online , these easy-to-use interactive tools are impactful and appreciated by this audience.

Looking to make changes now? Check out our Solutions.

Using Virtual Open Houses to Market Real Estate Listings

Adapting to Change

These are challenging times for everyone. New COVID-19 rules and restrictions limit person-to-person interactions, which we at TruPlace understand that this is an adjustment period for most agents. The health reasons are clear and the business implications are nerve-wracking. But there are practical things that can be done to serve our clients, just like there are practical ways to serve yours.

Health First

For starters, TruPlace is complying with CDC and WHO guidelines to monitor the recent travel and health of our photographers and the agents they might interact with. We are also making sure any relevant expenses, such as medical gloves or hand sanitizer, are covered. Our entire office headquarters in Germantown, MD has adjusted to the new normal of remote work.

Listing agents are facing a unique set of circumstances: they must sell their client’s home without inviting heavy foot traffic. Our clients are finding that 3D products are a safe way to market a home amid Coronavirus concerns. Specifically, TruPlace’s immersive visuals for buyers are a great way to experience the property without having to physically be there.

Work Smarter

The 3D Virtual Tour is the new Open House. It’s viewable from a web link sent by the agent to potential buyers. TruFusion 3D tours allow viewers to see details such as electrical outlet placements, back-splash patterns, and clear window views.

Floor Plan Tours with 360 Views show the viewer where they “are” inside the house based on area of the floor plan being clicked. The 360 view technology lets viewers turn in any direction and view that area closer up or further back by simply pinching the screen like they would with almost any online image.

TruPlace’s “Virtual Open Houses” enable potential buyers to explore every nook and cranny of a property from the safety of their own laptops or iPads. Our signature smart-touch layout tool with beautiful photos viewers love now has added 360 views in the rooms where details matters most, like kitchens and backyards. This solution can save on the cost of a full 3D virtual tour while still giving guests the quick, quality inside look they want.

These “user-controlled experiences” allow the buyer to move in and out of rooms, hallways, and stairs in addition to being able to spin around the room to see all the details.

For buyers looking to be guided through a property visually, TruPlace has Walkthru Videos that escort viewers to each room. These video products are available at varying lengths from 1-minute to 4-minutes long, regardless of property size.

The 3D tours, Walkthru Videos and Slideshow Videos designed by TruPlace provide the most comprehensive and realistic experience of a home’s layout, giving viewers a totally clear and immersive experience.

Stay Safe

The well being of our clients, employees, and neighbors are taking a front-row seat, driving our decision making, which seems to get tougher by the hour. We encourage everyone to stay safe and healthy.

How to Use Your Property Analytics

On every property link, TruPlace collects valuable information and organizes it into graphs and charts. In order to take advantage of this beneficial feature, you have to know where to find it and how to use it.

Where Is My Data?

Any current client of TruPlace can log into the Client Portal from home page of our website and access property analytics.
Select a property from your property list. Click on the sunset icon under the Images column. Once that property page loads, go to Property in the top navigation bar and click Analytics.
With each property, we provide data about the behaviors of the online audience interacting with this property page. This access is available for a full year.

What Data Is Available?

You not only get the data showing the sources of the online traffic, or where the traffic came from to view this property, but you can see trends showing which days of the week or times of day that property gets the most views.

How Can I Use It?

Social Media Marketing

You would be shocked at the differences in viewer behavior, based on a property location, price point and marketing efforts. Use the data to determine when to host a virtual open house or when to do a Facebook live event. For example, if the property gets most of its views on Fridays, see what time is most popular, then launch a Facebook live event about that property during that time.

Location Specific Marketing

The map feature is a client favorite. It shows you where the viewers are located when they look at the property online. Because the map is interactive, you can click on each number and drill down to see hyper-local data, even down to the to the street.

The map indicates high concentration clusters, not just locally, but nationally and globally. Property owners and managers can gain a better understanding of your marketing efforts and reach with this visual, as well. Use the zoom in/out to drill down closer or move out further to see the viewer locations.
You can show your sellers the on-line behavior of the buyers and this can help you to adjust or pivot the marketing plan for better results. For residential sales, it is also a smart way to target potential home sellers because if these viewers are looking at homes virtually, they may just be thinking about a move soon. For rentals, it helps lower the cost of pay per click ads when you can target a specific location, especially when you know they are already interested.