Video walkthroughs - stem the tide of site tours

If you’re like me and use your home (plus business) location to host guests, requests for site tours can get a little frustrating at times.

I’m not sure what’s changed, but we suddenly began receiving 4-8 requests for site tours every day across the platforms, which is higher than I’ve ever seen.

The problem though is that before I show my condo, I spend a large amount of time cleaning our space from top to bottom. I put in the same amount of cleaning time that I would prior to hosting a production. It eats into my day and affects my work schedule. Plus, with this being my home as well, I like to be able to kick off my shoes while I work.

If I accommodated each request for a site tour, I unfortunately wouldn’t be able to work, as I’d spend even more time cleaning than I already do haha :slight_smile:

Because our space needs to be perfect before a tour, I typically only schedule them for the 15-30 minutes prior to a hosting, because I know the space will be at its cleanest.

Just recently, I scheduled a site tour prior to one of my own photoshoots (I’m a still photographer) and the guest showed up around 30 minutes late (I hilariously mistook her for my client initially).

When she saw my photography lights and camera gear, she wrinkled her nose and asked “is that going to be here ALL the time?” and began asking where the tables and chairs (from our image gallery) were.

I’ve always felt that site tours were extremely limited in their effectiveness. I have perhaps 1 out of every 7 turn into bookings and the vast majority end up feeling very pointless. They walk in, note that everything looks exactly like the pictures in our listing and then oddly enough take their own pictures with their phones (perhaps to warrant the trip?) and leave.

I love meeting my guests, but many have urged me to give them discounts or attempt to convince me to book outside of Peerspace, which I’ll never do. It’s all led to a bit of wasted time and even less frustration.

So in order to stem the growing tide of site tour requests, I shot and uploaded a video walkthrough of my condo here: https://youtu.be/viwYoPB6Sss

Keep in mind that I am a still photographer with no desire to edit video, so this was shot roughly with my phone in one take. I have no experience narrating and no script, so I mess up on a couple of things (and then the Internet began having trouble towards the end haha).

Because I have had difficulty getting guests to read my listing, I talk about a few important points in the video; I mention that I am present during rentals to act as site coordinator and assist with issues that guests may have and I also talk briefly about our cats.

We keep our cats in the bedroom, or if a guest is filming in the bedroom, we move them to a big 7’ cat tent, or put them in the office. But we have had a few guests complain about the existence of cats and suddenly begin ‘coughing’ and ‘sneezing’, so I mention that I have severe allergies to all fur bearing animals (this is true - they’re some of the worst allergies I have ever seen, but I still love my kitties) and it provides me with a great opportunity to talk about how clean we keep our space.

Every day we sweep and vacuum with a Dyson Animal + Allergy Ball vacuum and the Roomba 980 with hep filter also runs every day, we use a microfiber dust mop every single day and 2-3 times a week we mop and polish the floors to a high gloss. Upstairs and on the stairs, we shampoo the carpets twice a month.

So the video walkthrough helps to reiterate the rules in our listing and gives us a chance to show off how much we care about our space and our renters.

I have no skill with video and no time to increase production values (I also tend to redecorate a LOT), but I expect with each new iteration of the video walkthrough, my patter and camera skills will improve.

Just thought that I’d share the video and also an impassioned plea to add video walkthrough embedding into our profiles!

I would love to see Peerspace have the option to LINK TO a Youtube video with a walkthrough, or even embed a video.

I recommend embedding from Youtube because it’s incredibly easy to implement and more fault tolerant as opposed to having a video player in Peerspace.

Supplementing the video, I also have a floorplan in my image stack that shows the approximate size and location of every room. I’d LOVE to see Peerspace allow for separate floorplan uploads as well!

With these tools

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WOW it seems like you are wasting a lot of time…I would try to feel out the client as much as possible before they show up or even better try to arrange all your views on a single day if possible call it (OPEN HOUSE DAY) or something similar. Booking 1 out of 7 is a boomer and I would definitely rethink my approach. Maybe add a non refundable $25 viewing fee. If they book your space the $25 bucks goes toward the balance. Just an idea. Good luck

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Agree on much of this, the scout visits take up so much time and often do not lead to a booking. I’ve wondered about charging a fee to scout but didn’t think this was an accepted policy. The $25 idea is interesting. Do you think Peerspace could offer that as a standard policy or it’s based on each renter? (I also ask how much time the visit will take and 15-20 minutes seems plenty to me. And they always take their own photos too, so I’m used to that.)

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Personally, I believe that about a third of site tours are people looking for Pinterest ideas. We have kind of a unique home, so lots of people just want to look at it from the inside and have no real desire to book.

Being in business for so long (21 years) has taught me that potential clients often come in two varieties:

  • Those that book
  • Those that shop around endlessly and never get their project completed

When I think about site tours, I think "who in the world has time to drive around Los Angeles traffic to look at a bunch of spaces that already have excellent, high quality images?

So I personally take a relatively dim view on site tours and personally consider the vast majority to be a waste of time. When I do a site tour, I’m not expecting a booking, I’m mostly satisfying curiosity and allaying suspicion.

Of course, there are other hosts that love them and swear by them (and they may have the type of space that would allow for site tours all day long with no adverse effect), so I don’t mean to pooh-pooh the entire concept, but I don’t see them as being very useful.

But I’m curious about your suggestion to “rethink my approach” - could you expound upon that?

Normally I’d say that charging for a site tour would be weird, but I genuinely don’t see them as a necessity and I confess that it’s a little annoying to spend hours cleaning for a 3 minute visit (especially for something small like a potential 4 hour off-site rental), or have to explain a dozen times a week why I can’t stop my business and block time out of every day to show the space.

Perhaps instead of charging for site tours, Peerspace should publicly discourage site tours and strongly penalize hosts who have old, inaccurate pictures on their listings, in or order raise guests’ confidence in booking.

Either way, there is a definite solution in there somewhere - I think embedding video walkthroughs would be an excellent start

Deacon, thank you for posting, I always appreciate your posts. I think that Peerspace should have a charge for showings that can be used towards a booking. They can also make a profit. They should also have a feature that shows inquiries/ showings to bookings ratio. For all the people that send me inquiries that are so obscure , they rarely ever have any reviews. There are a lot of time wasters on here. You are right, there are “scouts” that ask questions that could easily been answered by looking at photos and the description but these “scouts” are too busy hurrying through listings. “Scouts” also use site visits as a way to circumvent Peerspace, they really should look into locking in a booking, host and Peerspace are losing out.

You put that so well that I’m beginning to agree with the paid scouting idea!
On the one hand, it seems unfriendly and potentially discouraging for possible guests (which is why I don’t think they’ll implement it) but at the same time, it discourages potential guests from wasting host time.

It’s now only noon and I’ve already received two site tour requests from another platform. Luckily, I sent them a link to my corny video walkthrough and tired my best to add a positive spin on things by letting them know that they are able to save a trip through LA traffic! :slight_smile:

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Location scouting for film production and site visits for event spaces are a tried and true integral part of the location rental industry, and have been a standard practice long before platforms like Peerspace even existed. Trying before buying is the baseline of 95% of consumerism, and should not be shunned but rather, encouraged. I liken it to eliminating test drives at car dealerships, forbidding shoppers to try on clothing in retail stores or denying ice cream shop patrons a small sample before they ultimately decide on cookie dough as their treat of choice all because the photos online “should have done the trick” and saved everyone the “extra step.” Such a reluctant approach will only yield negative results from a conversion standpoint, but also from a customer service standpoint as well, which is arguably more important when looking at the big picture. Think of it like online dating. Imagine agreeing to marry a tinder match because they had amazing pictures, videos and great conversation. Good luck with that!

Allowing potential customers to sample, scout or test drive is the nature of the service necessary to support the product a business owner is ultimately trying to sell- in our case, our spaces. While a perceived inconvenience, graciously accommodating scouts actually supports our efforts to get more bookings often more so than stellar pictures, detailed descriptions or even killer communication via phone and/or messages alone. Reason being is, great spaces often sell themselves in person, but it isn’t until a guest walks in and experiences the space first-hand that he/she can come to that conclusion. This is especially true for the event and film industries. I like to think that these four components are the four key steps to closing deals: pictures grab attention, descriptions set the scene, conversation clears any confusion and scouts close the deal.

In our business, which is comprised of three full-time locations servicing primarily film clients, we like to track everything so we can see what works, what doesn’t work and what we can improve upon. Out of 500+ bookings, close to 400 of them requested to scout, all of which we were happy to accommodate. To date, our average close rate for scouts ranges between 72-89% on any given month. Scouts are not only a huge benefit to the client, but also a great tool to help hosts get a feel for the guest as well, what the booking will be like day of and allows both parties to ask and answer any questions that arise, which can often prevent potential issues and/or confusion the day of the booking itself. Guests need to scout for many more reasons other than general aesthetic checks. Some typical examples would be checking for lighting, sunlight directional changes, sound/acoustics, loading logistics, scale and of course, confirming that the photos advertised are accurately reflective of the space (often not the case for some irresponsible hosts, unfortunately). No one is wasting their time to update their Pinterest boards, I assure you.

I can definitely relate to the tedious nature of constantly cleaning, especially if the location is also your residence (been there!). A good way to prevent burnout as some have suggested is to lined up as many scouts on one designated day so you can knock them all out in one fell swoop. Once we confirm that the scope of the booking in question is something we’re interested in accommodating, only then do we move forward with scheduling the scout. We don’t just say yes to anyone and everyone asking. We are clear to communicate to our guests, both in our description/rules and via conversation prior to, that we are happy to accommodate one preliminary scout (less than 30 mins) prior to the booking request being submitted. After the booking has been confirmed, we are happy to accommodate a subsequent Tech Scout/Director’s Scout (up to an hour). Again, this is an industry standard and will only hurt your business if you are resistant to it.

I caution the practice of charging for scouts, since again, this goes against the grain of industry standard practices and will be a huge turn-off to guests, especially when such resistance is compared to other hosts’ willingness. If you must find a way to directly charge for your time in such a way, then I recommend baking it into the overall rate or including it as an add-on if you must. For us, it makes sense to give someone a free 20 minutes to snap pictures that, yes, already exist, if it means we A. make a few thousand (or even hundred) dollars on this deal, b. make a customer happy who gives us a 5-star review, refers business to us and comes back for subsequent shoots and/or C. means the guest holds onto the photos for a shoot later on that might be a better fit. Happens all the time!

Our time is valuable, yes, but so are our customers.

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I was hoping that Ashley would chime in with an opposing view, as she is typically the Ying to my Yang and I appreciate her contribution and assistance to my threads!

This is the beauty of a message board - we have one point of view that is 100% correct and valid for that individual’s situation and we have another completely opposite point of view that is 100% correct and valid for their situation.

The magic comes when we respect the validity of each others’ unique experiences and opinions and keep the Peerspace message board a civil and friendly place for individuals to come together, express concerns and create solutions together :slight_smile:

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My experience here in Oakland has been very different, but the nature of this business is also different. There is a bit of production/offsite, but events of all kinds really dominate now: birthdays, anniversaries, graduation, fundraisers, screenings.

Even after (sometimes) 30 or more messages, the initial walk-through is really essential, both for me and the potential guest. These are usually just local folks, planning a gathering or celebration. They always say something like “the photos are great but being here is much more impressive”.

I encourage tours, and these meetings have been really useful in ironing out potential problems. I only do around half a dozen a week, but at least 9 out of 10 turn into bookings. And I get a chance to actually meet the guest, have a conversation, find out what kind of event they are planning. And they almost always shoot photos and videos, but I don’t have a problem with that.

Regarding the cleaning issue, this 100-year old factory loft can never be “sparkling clean.” Some people do raise this issue and I tell them we scrub it down every week, but everyone’s idea of clean is different. Some corporate guests and one party have brought in their own cleaners, which is ok with me.

I agree with Ashley that the “reluctant approach” can only yield negative results… We are selling environments, and potential guests should be able to experience them. Most of the “customers” here have been really nice, and some have become friends. Maybe I have just been lucky!

I generally agree with Ashley as well, I just unfortunately don’t have the time for site tours, as my home is also a photography studio and there’s a bunch of lights sitting around (or a toddler)!

I think we may have gotten off track though, as I wasn’t intending for there to be ‘two sides’ that agree or disagree, but rather to help explain that everyone’s situation is different.

As I said in my initial post, some swear by the site tour, some may not need to rely on it, be it because of great images, or time constraints. I made this thread partially as a feature request to allow embedding of walkthroughs and partially to invoke some ideas for ways of stemming the site tour requests for those (like me) who may not have time to accommodate the number of requests received.

Cheers!!

I would LOVE the possibility of a walkthrough video. We are about to shoot one as well and it would be so much better to implement it on the site instead of an awkward non-linkable link in the messages.

I am usually happy yo schedule viewings because I live very close by, however I have also been thinking about the time I have to put into it. Getting to the space, waiting for the person and then getting back - it takes about an hour. I have had quite a few situations too where no one showed up, and also didn’t answer on the messages.

We allow very short 2 hours bookings too so especially for something like that I would like to be able to show the potential renter a great video of the space and saving them and myself the time for a viewing.

Please let’s have video integration be part of the listing! I don’t think that will take away from showing places but minimize viewing requests for us hosts since it would satisfy a big chunk of the people who find a video helpful.

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Well put!
We just had a no-show for a site tour this morning, but since we had a booking for this afternoon, it was no real loss for us.

With excellent images and a very good walkthrough video, I think that 70-80% of site tours can be avoided.

As a client once told me: “if we must work, then we must work efficiently!”

Great suggestion!
This would be so helpful.

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