Sometimes, when a door closes another door opens. A shinier, stronger, more incredible door that you never would have even noticed were it not for the first door closing. A door that is so exciting, you’d spend the first three sentences talking about it. A virtual door!
Let me take you back to September 4, 2020. Our first child, due November 8, had grown impatient and broke mom’s water at 30 weeks. We were scared, stressed, and at the hospital doing anything and everything we could to keep him (spoiler alert) in there. It was not the time that I would have chosen to receive the news that our virtual tour provider is going out of business. But there it was. A huge issue, because we had 45 virtual tours shot and hosted that would no longer exist. With customers attached to those tours that expected to be able to reuse them. And that home had been the only tour partner I’d found that could make our business model work for Anikio. It was not a great day.
The Problem With Most Virtual Tour Options
You see, the number one user of virtual tours, by far, is realtors. Realtors have their listings filmed, the virtual tour stays up for a few months, and by then the property is sold, pulled, or the agent loses the listing most of the time. That virtual tour isn’t needed again. Virtual tour providers are set up to work within that model, with subscriptions that limit the maximum number of ‘active’ tours at a given time and pricing that makes virtual tours totally inaccessible to other markets. Matterport, I’m looking at you.
With Anikio, we had a solution that would allow us to retain and re-use tours year after year and, with enough tour renewals, would pay the bills on our hosting subscription fees. That allowed us to price the tours within reach for rentals, which is still our core focus. And then we didn’t.
The Next Generation of Virtual Tours
We scoured the internet for options. We looked at pricing, ran numbers, and did a bunch of ninja math. We reviewed and built virtual tours, had phone calls with sales agents, tried option after option. And what we finally found did require a fair amount of capital up front, but gives us total control over the virtual tours we create. More over, it takes Anikio virtual tours from being a budget option for rental property to the premier option for virtual tours in Saskatchewan. It opens doors (uh oh, here we go again with the doors!) for our customers to have a virtual presence like never before at a time, during the COVID-19 pandemic, when it has never been more important to have an online presence.
Our virtual tours look better, have more interactivity options, more customization and user interface capabilities, and more advanced marketing tools than we have ever seen in this province. We can integrate directly with Google’s Street View so a business with an Anikio tour can walk right in from Google and get a feeling for their physical location. We’re unlocking the possibilities of Virtual Open Houses with our new Live Guided Tour option that lets landlords or realtors host and show a property virtually to potential renters or buyers anywhere in the world. We’re able to create a unique, Custom Branded Experience for businesses or realtors. And now virtual tours can be turned easily into native Facebook and YouTube 360-degree videos.
This really is just scratching the surface of the possibilities of our new virtual tour engine. Embedded floor plans, Deep Linking (directly bring someone into a specific room), Google Analytics, Information Windows, Integrated Photo Album, Dynamic Introductions, Voice-to-text, Integrated Sound/Music, Virtual Reality Ready, and so much more!
We can’t wait to share more details on some of these many features here and on our virtual tour page!
Oh Right! That Other Thing
So, a few weeks later, Mikali, our first son, was born! 8 weeks early but he has been doing amazingly well. It certainly has been an adjustment working from home and having a child first in NICU and now at home also, but we are so grateful that he’s healthy and doing well.