Tampa virtual realty company taps into real estate tours
Christopher Vasilakis, 40, from Tampa, who has been in the virtual reality startup space for five years, saw an opportunity in real estate during the coronavirus pandemic.
In November, he launched Guided Virtual Tours, which offer narrated 360-degree video tours of residential and commercial properties that allow potential buyers and tenants to review a room as if they were visiting in person.
One of their packages included Vasilakis’ team who used special cameras to record a 3D scan of the property, handle the voice-over work, and compose the video for a set-up fee of $ 997, which then went on at a monthly rate of $ 399 -Dollars being licensed to the customer, he said. The license can be canceled or restarted at any time, depending on the customer’s wishes. They’re also expanding to include an option that allows customers to do more front-end work and pay less.
With around 45 clients – including apartment complexes – looking to continue operating nationwide and expanding this year, Vasilakis spoke to the Tampa Bay Times about his business model. The interview has been edited for the sake of clarity and length.
Can you explain how your services work and how you stand out from the competition?
So far there has only been the traditional virtual tour where you endlessly click through an apartment or property, click around and no one takes you through the apartment. Nobody talks to you or sells you. That’s equivalent to someone giving you the keys to an apartment and saying, Hey, find it yourself. Well, we found that wasn’t the most effective.
We tried to repeat an organic tour. And that means someone will take you into a property, show you the amenities, show you the model units, explain the property’s value proposition to you, and then call you to action. And that doesn’t require any work from the prospect.
It’s a video-based format. The reason we did this is so that this way the prospect can just relax and be guided through the tour, and it’s also easy to be shared. So an SMS could be written, it could be used on cell phones, it could be used on computers.
The property (owner) can take the lead on a tour itself. So it could be your best leasing agent giving and guiding a tour. Or we have a team of professionals who can also accommodate. They provide the script for us to navigate through the property and we recorded that.
How do you build a customer base for your company?
So the easiest way is to show on Instagram how you can actually take a tour of an apartment complex on Instagram.
We could text the property (the owner) and say, “Hey if you do.” I’ll show them exactly how to do it. You can click the link in our bio, then click the demo and take a comprehensive tour where you can move your phone, look around the property and get a virtual tour right there.
When they see this, they usually want more information, and that’s how we can get them on board.
We also have an existing customer base from another virtual reality company. We can go into our customers and show them a new product offering and then show them and say, “Hey, look, there is something for your property.”
How did the past year of the coronavirus pandemic affect how you built your business?
As soon as the coronavirus came out, it became a necessity for apartment complexes to conduct guided tours from a distance. You couldn’t wait for a prospect to come to your home, you had to find a way to reach the prospect. That is why Guided Virtual Tours were created. It was created for the pandemic.
Working remotely, building teams that are no longer necessarily in an office space, was the only challenge per se. That being said, the product was developed for the pandemic. It will be many more years.
What are your goals for the rest of this year?
Our goal is to have 1,000 properties by the end of the year … and I believe this is very achievable as we need to bring out a new product that will allow the property (owner) to track the tours themselves and record the experience can do it yourself, which makes this a much faster process.
So they give us the raw data and we build everything in-house.
Now we can show someone in Greece how to record their property and they can record their script in their native language. We can combine it with each other. You can do anything.
So we can scale much faster and actually become a global audience.