The long-run impact of COVID-19 on the global real estate industry is still far from certain. But there’s one related industry that seems sure to come out ahead: virtual tour creation.
With prohibitions on traditional open houses, realtors have had to get clever about showing properties. For many, that’s meant giving themselves a crash course in 360 cameras and virtual tour creation.
That’s where Kuula steps in. Kuula is an online platform designed to make virtual tour creation easy, intuitive and fast. Kuula has seen a spike in new sign-ups this spring, and they expect that the newfound interest will give way to a permanent shift in real estate, hospitality, education and the many other industries that can benefit from immersive visits to remote locales.
We talked with Kuula co-founder Magda Drozdz to get an inside look at the recent changes in the virtual tour space and tips for people looking to learn how to choose a virtual tour camera and get started with tour creation.
Meanwhile, if you’re ready to jump into virtual tour creation, Kuula and Insta360 have partnered on a special deal to give creators all they need to get started. When you pick up the new Insta360 ONE R Virtual Tour Kit, you’ll get the leading virtual tour camera, all the accessories you need for virtual tour creation, plus your first month of a Kuula PRO Plan for just $0.99.
1. What kind of impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on Kuula and the virtual tour industry in general?
Virtual tours, especially in the real estate industry, were becoming increasingly popular even before the COVID-19 pandemic. The restrictions and lockdowns only accelerated that trend. At the time of writing, all over the world, people can’t organize meetings and gatherings, so it’s very difficult to show any location in person. This is where the virtual tour comes in – you can use this medium to present a property to potential customers online, either live (using a video conferencing software such as Zoom) or by sharing a link.
Looking beyond the pandemic, we think that virtual tours are here to stay. They offer a great way for potential customers to check a property before they decide to go and see it in person.
This makes virtual tours a crucial part of any real estate deal these days. Looking beyond the pandemic, we think that virtual tours are here to stay. They offer a great way for potential customers to check a property before they decide to go and see it in person. This can make the life of home buyers and agents much easier in the long term and the process of finding a home for sale or rent much more efficient.
2. Have you seen any noticeable trends in new signups or new tour listings?
It’s been a different spring, for sure. Since the lockdowns started and organizing open houses was not possible anymore, we saw an increase in new sing-ups and general activity on the service. The traffic on our website is always increasing on a month-to-month basis, but in March and April, we’ve seen more growth than usual.
One of the first decisions we made was to extend our server infrastructure and prepare it for that increased workload. A lot of real estate agents, brokers and photographers, some of whom never did a tour before, signed up and started creating virtual tours. This gave us a unique opportunity to hear feedback from a large, new group of customers who wanted to create virtual tours, but didn’t necessarily have a lot of experience using any virtual tour software or virtual tour cameras.
3. What are the most popular applications for virtual tours these days? What is the breakdown between areas like real estate, hospitality and recruitment?
Kuula has many applications. We don’t focus on one industry, but rather aim to provide the best possible tour editing experience for customers across many industries.
The majority of our customers are people & companies working in real estate and hospitality, architecture & construction. Education institutions, such as colleges, schools and museums and marketing companies can also be found among our users.
4. Where do you think there are unexplored opportunities or untapped potential in virtual tours?
Real estate has been the driving force behind the development of virtual tour technology, but it can be used by a lot of other industries. 360 photos can play a role in car sales or RV rentals for example.
Virtual tours will become even more important in the days after the pandemic, when people will be choosing which place to go to much more carefully and will expect to see much more details regarding the layout and setup of each location.
Virtual tours are also great in showing hotels, vacation rentals, restaurants and conference centers. This will become even more important in the days after the pandemic, when people will be choosing which place to go to much more carefully and will expect to see much more details regarding the layout and setup of each location.
5. What are the basics that a new virtual tour creator will need to get started? How much startup investment is involved?
Getting started with creating virtual tours is easy and doesn’t require much investment. The more virtual tours you create, the better and faster you become. If you choose Kuula as your provider, you can create your first tour in about 1-2 hours for an average 1000-1500 sq/feet property.
You will need half an hour to shoot the panoramas on the location, and another one for downloading the photos from the camera and creating the virtual tour on Kuula. What you will need to get started is a 360 virtual tour camera like the Insta360 ONE R and a software to create virtual tours. The virtual tour camera would cost you around $400 and Kuula PRO is $144 a year. This is a great deal, as most of our competition has prices two or three times higher and sometimes they charge per each tour.
[You can get started with Insta360 and Kuula’s Virtual Tour Kit deal, which gets you your first month of Kuula PRO for just $0.99.]
6. Why should creators choose Kuula? What sets it apart?
We’ve been trusted by over 100,000 users, there have been almost 100,000 tours created using our software and almost 1.5 million photos uploaded to Kuula so far. What we believe sets us apart from competition is:
Simplicity: Kuula is built to be easy to use. We constantly work on improving the workflow, making it better, more user friendly and allowing our users to save time by launching new, time saving features.
Customization: You can customize many elements of the tour, you can add many different assets.
Ubiquity: It works across all platforms, on desktop, on tablets, mobile and in VR.
7. Does Kuula have any upcoming projects or plans you can share? What are the next frontiers in the virtual tour space?
Yes, we never stop developing new features. Recently, we’ve been focused on improving the workflow for creating virtual tours and making this process even faster and easier. The most recent features add support for adding & editing location data to panoramas. We also released new image retouching functions and new features in hotspots. Finally, for our business customers, we added new branding options. We listen to our users and most of the new functionality is based on their feedback
Head here to pick up Insta360 ONE R Virtual Tour Kit and get your first month of a Kuula PRO Plan for just $0.99.