Before COVID-19, we lived lives of normalcy. We went grocery shopping, went to the mall, and were able to go out to eat without living in fear of the virus. People could also go out and shop for new cars, and go to open house tours if they were in the market to find a new home. But we all know that the virus put a pause on our everyday lives; we can’t do the things we used to, or we can, just with caution.
For those wanting to move during the pandemic—whether it’s because they’ve been wanting to find a new place or because they need to rethink their living situation—they probably want to keep their search as virtual and online as they can. How can they do that, though, if they want to have the chance to view potential new apartments or homes? That’s where Guided Virtual Tours comes into play.
Now, virtual apartment and home tours have been around for a while, but they haven’t been utilized as often as they are in the present. With Guided Virtual Tours, they help real estate professionals extend their services through a simple click of a link that they send via text or email. This brainchild of founder and CEO Chris Vasilakis also allows for tours to happen 24 hours a day, every day of the week, so agents can reach prospective clients at any time.
Getting To The Beginnings
Before creating Guided Virtual Tours, Vasilakis held a number of diverse positions throughout his career.
After graduating from high school, he joined the Marine Corps where he served as Sergeant. When he left the Corps, he felt that his next steps included getting a degree to start on his business-owning journey. However, he didn’t finish, as he felt that he kept waiting for something to happen and wanted to figure things out himself.
From there, Vasilakis eventually settled in the music business as a Hip-Hop tour producer, working with names such as Ludacris and Mac Miller. He said that while the music industry always brought excitement, it still didn’t align with his aspirations.
Then, in 2016, Vasilakis’s brother introduced him to virtual reality and while he considered it a cool technology, he didn’t know how to apply it to his business ideas. He later saw his first 360 camera at Best Buy and new opportunities began clicking in his brain.
He created several virtual reality-centered companies based in Florida, including The VR Marketing Group, VR High Rise, and VR Student Housing; the latter two provide high quality, VR experiences to help clients view prospective properties before completion, while The VR Marketing Group helps in creating these experiences.
In 2017, Vasilakis founded the Virtual Recess Foundation. This 501(c)(3) tax exempt, non-profit organization provides fun life experiences to sick children in hospitals. VR immerses the kids in different adventures that help them feel like they aren’t even in the hospital.
All of this has now led up to his latest venture: Guided Virtual Tours.
How Do Guided Virtual Tours Work?
Vasilakis officially founded Guided Virtual Tours in November 2020 so it is fairly new. Its whole premise focuses on helping both residential real estate firms and apartment complexes give property tours by sending them to a prospect’s phone. In contrast to traditional virtual tours, these tours include a virtual leasing agent that guides the prospect through the property while explaining its features; this also eliminates the need for the prospect to keep clicking in order to navigate from room to room.
Guided Virtual Tours recently partnered up with Matterport, the largest virtual tour company in the U.S. With photographers and videographers located all over the country to capture the footage, Vasilakis and his team can create these tours at an affordable price. And if properties already have virtual tours of their own, they can partner with the company to add that guided component to their tours.
The usual turnaround time for the creation of a tour lands anywhere from 10-14 days. For pricing, the company offers its services for a monthly payment of $399, and a one-time setup fee of $997. This pays for capturing the properties’ footage and includes nine scenes for the tour. There is also a script-building tool that allows an agent or property to either create their own script, or copy and paste their information for the guide.
Once ready, the tours are sent to prospects via text message or email, and can be accessed easily on YouTube. If an agent or property leased all of their units, they have the option to turn the service off and turn it back on as more properties become available.
Vasilakis hopes to launch Guided Virtual Tours internationally to help even more properties and prospects around the world. With the COVID-19 pandemic still around, it’s a helpful service for real estate professionals who still want to make sales, and also assists with social distancing regulations.
“This is the future of touring all properties, allowing thousands of prospects to tour each day while reducing the need for human leasing agents,” he said. “It’ll be global—and it’s going to change the industry.”