Tag: Professional photography


Agents Using Virtual Open Houses to Market Listings Amid COVID-19 Restrictions

 

 

 
Adapting to Change
These are challenging times for all of us. Federal mandates are in place limiting person-to-person interactions, which we at TruPlace understand must feel excruciating to 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 will be teleworking for at least the next two weeks so there is no interruption in customer service.  

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. A floor plan image shows the viewer where they “are” inside the house. The 3D “spin” 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 3D spins in the rooms where 360o matters most, like kitchens and backyards.

This solution can save on the cost of a full 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 Walkthrough 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, Walkthrough 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.  

 


Tales from the other side: A VR Industry Professional’s Take on Book Direct Day

Bri Pope, TruPlace

 

I’m going to preface this post by saying something that might surprise my friends in the Vacation Rental industry.

I don’t vacation.

Shocking, I know.  Here’s the thing – I was raised by “weekend warriors”. My family’s idea of a vacation was a spur of the moment weekend getaway, planned on little more than a wing and a prayer. When I arrived at TruPlace, I quickly learned that most people (most normal people) actually do plan their vacations. Even after absorbing knowledge and insight imparted to me by some of the best mentors in the Vacation Rental Industry, I still never considered myself part of the equation. Rather, I considered myself simply an observer of the guest experience.

When it came time to plan my honeymoon in Asheville, NC (my first vacation in 10 years!) my time had finally come. Today, in honor of #BookDirect Day, the grassroots movement initiated by Amy Hinote at VRM Intel to educate guests about the advantages of bypassing third-party when booking their vacations, I address you not as a vendor in the vacation rental industry, but alas as a guest. Here’s what I found.

Strong Branding

Before I started planning my vacation, I knew I wanted to #BookDirect, but I found myself unconsciously perusing Airbnbs in Asheville. Why? Because of the ease of interaction with the brand. I maintain that the only way to retrain guests to book direct through you is to build a strong brand and be downright obsessive about it. During the booking process, I was inundated with amazing social media targeting, direct marketing, PPC campaigns, and fantastic websites that enabled me to effectively identify what we needed for our vacation.

Invest in Visuals

Your visual marketing is the tie that binds a guest’s trust and expectations. If there’s a disconnect between the two, you will struggle to promote any type of direct booking. Property pages with compelling photography, floor plans tours, and virtual tours arm your guests with information that gives them the confidence to book direct.

Be the Mayor of Your Town

I had never been to Asheville and the layout of the town was unfamiliar to me. We wanted to be within walking proximity to attractions, but also close to the highway so we could get to the various activities we planned.  A rental manager was able to help me quickly identify which properties best matched our needs. Being able to discuss this with someone helped me feel confident in where we were staying, strengthened my trust in the brand, and reassured me that it was the right decision to book through their website.

They’ll Remember You After the Vacation

Asheville is amazing. We had a blast, but more importantly, our experience from beginning to end with the property management company we chose was top notch. Throughout our experience, we felt as if someone was in our corner if we needed anything. That personal touch and attention to detail are what we will remember about the brand (read: property manager) we chose, which will make it much more likely that we’ll choose them again the next time we come to town. In a word, we were delighted.

At the end of the day, we’re all just striving for positive interactions. On Book Direct Day, take stock of where you fit into that equation. Let the need for information and ease of use drive your initiatives. If you can create that experience, they’ll remember your brand, your website, your people and your properties.

 

Bri Pope is the Director of Client Engagement with TruPlace. Specializing in Vacation Rental sales and advocacy, she ensures the client’s visual solutions are aligned with their diverse, unique brands. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music way too loudly, hiking, and the occasional Netflix binge. Contact her at briannepope@truplace.com

A Guest’s Perfect Travel Companion: Floor Plan Tours with Professional Photos

TruPlace Floor Plan with Professional Image
Visit our gallery to see examples.

Planning a vacation is stressful and often falls squarely on the shoulders of one person arranging everything for a group. Massive OTAs and countless direct booking sites provide a paralyzing number of choices for where to stay. And even when those choices are narrowed down by filters, the nature of each vacation rental’s uniqueness makes it tough to know if a property will truly meet each guest’s needs and expectations. Once a property is booked, there’s then the pre-arrival planning and coordination, followed by overseeing vacation to-dos and timelines during the stay. The cycle of overwhelm starts all over again after checkout.

There must be a better way, right? Vacations should be relaxing, fun, and simple! What if every traveler in charge of booking, planning, and running their group’s trip had a digital travel companion that could help remove stress from the process? With TruPlace’s Signature Floor Plan Tours with professional photos, they do!

Pre-booking: Search > Find > Book

The average guest is rich in choices and poor in time when it comes to finding the right place to stay on vacation. They spend less than a minute on a single booking site but ultimately view at least nineteen properties before choosing one. A good travel companion like a Floor Plan Tour with professional photos makes this process much easier. It helps guests:

  • Narrow down properties to consider faster
  • Remain on your site longer to visualize themselves in a home through its photos and layout
  • Trust a property manager as one who is willing to invest in quality photography and helpful tools and, therefore, more likely to be one invested in the entire guest experience
  • Gain reassurance that a property will work for all the guests in their group

In fact, these technological virtual assistants are great companions to reservation agents, too, saving them an average of eight minutes per pre-booking call.

Pre-Arrival: Plan

Travel planning doesn’t end with the booking confirmation email. Once an accommodation has been booked, the primary travel planner for a group must spend several additional hours arranging transportation, planning meals and grocery shopping, booking excursions, coordinating fellow travelers and their schedules, planning in-home activities and outlining packing lists. One activity booking company once tallied this at 30 hours of work!

Floor plan tours with professional photos help the planner reclaim some time by clearly showing what is and isn’t in a property, along with key areas of interest. For example, a detailed floor plan with pictures of bedrooms helps with room selection and sleeping arrangements — prior to arrival (thus, avoiding the problem of whoever arrives first picks the best bedroom!). The location of stairs can help parents of a toddler identify how many baby gates they might need. Professionally taken photos show all the kitchen amenities available for the family chef to use for meals, and exterior layouts with photos of parking note how many vehicles guests can bring.

In Stay: Love

Nearly two-thirds of customers say their standards for good experiences are higher than ever, and half say companies aren’t meeting their expectations. This is a quick way to a subpar review. Instead, a good travel companion like a floor plan tour and quality photos show prospective guests if a property will meet their high standards before they book, so they arrive to a vacation rental with the right expectations. (This gives property managers the opportunity to surprise, delight, and exceed those expectations!)

Post-Stay: Share > Rebook

Easier travel planning and properly set expectations make for happy guests, and happy guests are more likely to book again — if not the exact same property, from the property manager who delivered a positive experience. Once a guest has experienced the benefit of a floor plan tour in their planning, they’ll appreciate (and expect) this feature when searching for the property that meets their needs on their next visit. This can have a significant business impact: retaining an existing guest costs one-fifth as much as it does to attract a new one. But winning new guests can be made easier as well. Happy guests are also more likely to write positive reviews and refer their friends — nine in 10 of whom trust their reviews over ads.

That doesn’t mean a good travel companion’s job is over. Texas Tech University found 83% of consumers are willing to refer others after a positive experience, but only 29% actually do. TruPlace’s floor plan tours lend a hand and make it easy to share a favorite property from a social and direct share button embedded into the tour view.

92% of travelers say that they trust reviews of their friends over commercial advertising. (vroomres)

To learn more about our Signature Floor Plan Tours, professional photography services, or other visual marketing tools, visit us at www.truplace.com.


An Industry Newcomer’s Take on the VRMA International Conference 2019

(From left to right) Bob Cusack, Suzi Cusack, Mary Beth Albertini (newcomer), and Brianne (Pope) Murphy – the TruPlace booth squad at the VRMA International Conference in New Orleans, LA. 

Observations from the Exhibit Hall Floor and Beyond

This is my inaugural blog post with TruPlace. I joined the company’s marketing department a week prior to VRMA International Conference 2019. Jetting off to New Orleans on week two was not a bad way to start a new job in a new industry (for me). I came to VR from cable, where I’ve attended my share of conferences over the years. I’m guessing that I may have been the brand-newest member attending the VRMA conference, among a record-setting 2,000 attendees. More than one person I met remarked that I’d be “drinking from the firehose!”, which was ideal because I was thirsty for knowledge. And VRMA 2019 did not disappoint.

I thought I’d share a perspective through a set of fresh eyes and ears that were there to absorb information and learn as much as possible. My approach was that of a journalist – to observe and ask questions that would answer the “who, what, where, why and how” about the Vacation Rental Management industry.

These shoes were made for walking all over the VRMA International Conference. The TruPlace booth squad could be easily identified by our red Converse sneakers.

Three days spent on the exhibit hall floor, attending keynotes, general and breakout sessions, and flitting about a multitude of parties was unquestionably the best initiation one could hope for.

Following are some of my decidedly industry-newbie takeaways:

  1. The industry is changing. Fast. New players have emerged in the past year while some have scaled up or down in market share, and still, others have appeared in a new iteration under a different brand umbrella. This seems especially so among the technology partners. And there is no indication that the tides of change will soon cease. So, we all ought to buckle up and enjoy (or endure) the ride.

NEW: The Hybrid Floor Plan Tour from TruPlace

The best of 2D and 3D in one

Here at TruPlace, what matters to us most is what truly moves our clients’ businesses forward by giving their end customers exactly what they’re looking for. This means user-friendly, affordable, and effective visuals – rather than simply the latest shiny marketing penny. That’s why we’ve created the Hybrid Floor Plan Tour, our signature layout tool with the beautiful photos and easy navigation clients love plus newly added TruFusion 3D spins in the rooms they care about most.

About the Hybrid Floor Plan Tour

Our new Hybrid Floor Plan Tour combines the convenience of 2D and the immersion of 3D:

  1. Beautiful Property Photos: Your TruPlace photographers capture your properties’ interiors, exteriors, and amenities in sharp detail and vivid colors with our TruFusion technology.
  2. Precisely Measured Floor Plan: While there, the photographers also measure the property for a detailed floor plan that includes windows, doors, stairs, and other key features. We then tag the floor plan for easy smart-touch navigation across all devices.
  3. Immersive 3D Spins: Now, your TruPlace photographers also take TruFusion 360o images in the areas guests or buyers most often want to see in more detail or have more questions about, such as kitchens, living rooms, or decks and views.

The Hybrid Floor Plan Tour is quickly becoming a favorite among our early adopter clients, and for good reason: users can easily jump into a property in 3D in important spaces without all the steps (and cost) of a virtual tour. Plus, our professional imaging captures all 360 degrees in unbeatable clarity from the spacious waterfront backyard to the sparkle of a granite countertop.

TAKE A TOUR >

For Vacation Rental Property Managers

For professional vacation rental property managers, robust and effective online property listings are no longer optional. Guests often need to understand property layouts to be sure it will meet their dynamic needs and have the confidence to book. The Hybrid Floor Plan Tour lets guests imagine themselves on vacation with strategically placed 360o views and TruFusion 2D images in every room, all a single click away on a smart-touch floor plan. The tour acts almost like a virtual assistant, helping to answer common pre-booking questions like “What is the view like from this room?” or “Can all of us sit together for dinner between the table and breakfast bar?” This saves reservationists’ valuable call time so they can focus on converting bookings.

For Real Estate Agents

The Hybrid Floor Plan Tour is perfect for large brokerages that need professional visuals at scale, for individual agents looking for the brand power of a national firm, and growing teams in between. Two-thirds of home buyers cite floor plans as important factors in deciding which homes to consider, and property sellers want to know you have what it takes to get those eyes – and offers – on their homes. We created the Hybrid Floor Plan Tour to serve agents, sellers, and buyers collectively. Agents and brokerages can win more listings with an effective, professional visual tool that impresses sellers. Those listings, in turn, can drive higher-quality leads by answering many of buyers’ make-or-break questions in minutes, deepening interest when a home looks like a good fit and saving the time of a showing when it’s not.

 

To learn more about our new Hybrid Floor Plan Tours, email discovermore@truplace.com or call 301-972-3201.


5 Reasons Professional Property Photography Is Better Than Amateur Property Photography

1. Professionals use better camera equipment.
Yes, your iPhone takes good photos of your kids and pets, but it just can’t compare to today’s advanced DSLR cameras. DSLRs have larger sensors with more pixels, better controls and interchangeable lenses. With a DSLR, you’re going to get better white balance that is more visually appealing. And the 3:2 aspect ratio of a DSLR makes for better compositions. But then, you can’t order a pizza using your DSLR.

2. Professionals know how to capture the best angles.
Amateurs typically just walk into a room and shoot. Professionals take into account the entire frame – from left to right, front to back, top to bottom. Does the angle of the bed look appealing? Is the entry to the bathroom in the frame? Is the camera height sufficient to capture the entire counter top? Does the selected lens capture the entire room without distorting the image? Professionals see all of this and more, plus know when to shoot multiple angles when necessary to capture everything a room has to offer.

3. Professionals understand lighting.
An amateur will usually close the drapes so that the sunlight coming in doesn’t “blow out” the detail in the room. This typically results in a shot that is too dark or too light.

A professional with the right equipment can capture the image in a room the way your eye sees it – with details inside the room, and window views of the outside. With today’s modern equipment in the hands of a professional, more detail is captured, colors are more vibrant, and lighting is perfectly balanced.

4. Professionals can enhance the image after the shot.
Images on TVs, fires in fireplaces and anything else that is moving do not photograph very well. This is why most professionals will turn those things off when shooting. But using post-production technology, images can be added to TVs, fires can be added to fireplaces, pool water can be made more inviting, grass greener, and the sky can be transformed to blue, even though it was cloudy the day of the shoot. While not appropriate for cosmetic enhancements that “fool” the viewer, this technology is very useful (and ethical) for enhancing things that come and go.

5. Professional photographs outperform amateur photographs.
Home buyers spend 60% of their time looking at photos and only 20% on descriptions (Wall Street Journal). Pro photos produce 7% more demand for vacation rentals than amateur photos (Airbnb). Homes with professionally photographed pictures can sell for up to $19,000 more (marketleader.com). Homes with high quality photos receive 47% higher asking price per square foot (cbsnews.com). With so much riding on photos, why go the amateur route?