10 years ago, if I needed a Virtual Tour, I will definitely hire a photographer over doing it myself (DIY) for few very simple reasons. If I am to DIY a Virtual Tour, firstly, I will need to get a good DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) camera which will be very costly. Secondly, I will need a software to stitch all the photos into a panoramic image (360 image) which will spend about 10 minutes for every image. Thirdly, I will need another software to create a Virtual Tour with all the panoramic images which will take about an hour to 2 hours. Lastly, I will need to subscribe to a hosting service to host my Virtual Tour so that my viewer can see the Virtual Tour which I have created. In a nutshell, if I DIY a Virtual Tour 10 years ago, I will have to spend a lot of money on camera, software, hosting subscription and also a lot of time wasted. It make sense in this situation if I hire a photographer to do the Virtual Tour.
However, as technology advance, all the above mentioned issues do not exist anymore. Today, we can easily find 360 cameras (cameras that can instantly take panoramic image) at different price range and different quality or even using smartphones (The quality might not be as good as the 360 cameras) to take panoramic pictures. This 360 cameras eliminate the issue of needing to get a DSLR camera and software for photo stitching helping users to save time and money. More importantly, there is also online software like www.panoleh.com which allow user to create a Virtual Tour in 5 to 10 minutes that help to host the Virtual Tour.
We will explore on the pros and cons on hiring a Virtual Tour photographer and doing it by yourself.
Hiring a Virtual Tour Photographer
For people who know me, I was a Virtual Tour Photographer previously. My clients came from all sort of industries like education, interior design, real estate agents, real estate developers, tourism, etc. For different industries, they have different purpose for the use of Virtual Tour. For example, tourist attraction and schools takes Virtual Tour to show their potential patron/clients a glimpse of their facilities and what they can expect if they make a visit. Interior designers used Virtual Tour to help them showcase their beautiful work and serve as a very good testimonial for them to attract potential clients. Real Estate developers used Virtual Tour to show the layout of the units so that potential buyers can visualize better rather than only showing 2D layout. Real Estate agents used Virtual Tour to market the property to attract more potential buyers. Click here for articles to understand how Real Estate agents make use of Virtual Tour.
At the later stage of my Virtual Tour Photographer career, the enquiries from education and tourism industries maintained, however, enquiries from real estate agents and developers (they make up 80% overall enquiries) dropped tremendously. Reason is because 360 cameras in the market is very affordable and online software like www.panoleh.com is very easy to use and affordable.
The pros of hiring a Virtual Tour Photographer is that they will literally do everything for you and you can rest assure of the quality. Basically, they will help you to take high quality panoramic photos and then create the virtual tour.
The cons of hiring a Virtual Tour Photographer is that they do not come cheap. Market rate in Singapore charge about $120 for 1 Virtual Tour with 5 scenes at a size of between 100 square metre (SQM) to 120 SQM of the property. Any extra scenes or bigger size of the property will have additional charges. If you are a real estate agent, you will also need to fix additional appointment with your client and the photographer to take the photo of the property.
Depending on the budget and circumstances, if hiring a Virtual Tour Photographer is costly for you and/or you find it difficult to fix time for the photographer, you might want to DIY a Virtual Tour which we will be touching on the next session.
DIY Virtual Tour
Do you browse website? Use smartphones? Use social Media? Utilise property portal (for real estate agents)? If your answer is NO TO ALL THE ABOVE, then do not waste your time reading on. Do you still remember how much time it took you to learn how to use a smartphone? How to create a social media account and post your activities? Creating a Virtual Tour on your own in www.panoleh.com is even easier, in fact it will become very easy after you have created 3 to 4 Virtual Tours on your own because it only takes 3 simple steps (Click here to understand how to create a Virtual Tour). Most people takes less than 10 minutes to create a Virtual Tour (It might take more time if you are creating a Virtual Tour with many scenes). I will need to spend about 3 to 4 minutes to create a Virtual Tour of a flat with 3 bedrooms of 8 scenes.
Another advantage of creating your own Virtual Tour is that it helps you to save cost. In fact, creating an account in www.panoleh.com/register is free and you can create 1 Virtual Tour with maximum of 5 scenes with the free account. If you need to create more Virtual Tour, you can check out the price plan at www.panoleh.com/plans, 1 Virtual Tour with maximum of 25 scenes can be as low as $0.25.
Other than saving cost, DIY a Virtual Tour also help you save the trouble of fixing extra appointments with your clients (if you are a Real Estate Agent) for the photographer to take the photo shoot.
Which Should I Choose?
Whether to hire a Virtual Tour Photographer or DIY a Virtual Tour depends very much on your budget and which industry you are creating the Virtual Tour for. For example, tourist attraction usually has bigger budget and has very big space that require many scenes for the Virtual Tour, it make sense for them to hire a professional Virtual Tour Photographer. For professions like real estate agents, every dollars and cents put into marketing will eat into their profit and the property they market is usually of a smaller scale compare to tourist attraction, it make more sense if they DIY a Virtual Tour on their own since it will help them to save money, time and also lesser hassle to fix extra appointments.