Worldwide: In a market that is becoming more crowded than ever before, services are looking at the virtual tour as a way to separate their property from others.
Though the technology has been in use in the traditional real estate market for a few years, vacation rental companies are only just beginning to use the feature, with HomeAway and Vrbo being the major early adopters.
The virtual tour allows a potential renter to explore the inside of a property, as if they were walking in it, through a curated set of panoramic images designed to simulate a first person view. The technology is proven to be effective, with Google in 2015 reporting that people would be twice as interested in purchasing property if a virtual tour was available, and more than half of American adults would not look at a property without a virtual tour.
In an article for Forbes, consumer advocate Christopher Elliot described his own use of the virtual tour software used by Vrbo, saying that “it is much harder to fake a virtual tour”. For Elliot, the potential guest would have a better understanding of the actual dimensions of the space, which can be warped by lenses and photography tricks, in his case allowing him to eliminate choices which may have looked viable with just standard photos.
Currently Vrbo and HomeAway offer the virtual tour service service widely in the US as well as having just expanded to a secondary market of Bali. Vacasa is going even further, offering not only virtual tours to every registered property owner, but integrating those tours with VR tech to provide an even more immersive experience to potential renters.
These tours may end up being only the beginning of what is possible, as virtual reality becomes more affordable and widespread. Real estate agents using VR have seen a major decline in physical showings due to the platform, and with similar goals, holiday rentals may see similar returns on the technology in the future.