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About Time Tours is a mobile app for home demonstrations and tour planning.
Platforms: iOS, Android; Browser app
Ideal for: Brokers, Agents and Multiple Listing Services
Top selling points:
- App for both platforms
- Local MLS integration
- Developed by agents
- Past tours recorded per customer
- Tour planning
The competition in the home tour and showspace is getting fierce, and it seems to me that this app was pushed out while it was ultimately still in development. If this interests you, get a solid idea of where it stands before committing to it.
What you should know
Another home tour and show app (for mobile and desktop) came out of Bend, Oregon, after ShowingTime became part of Zillow.
But while its neighbor Instashowing emerged as the first competitor to the show planner of Zillow’s new toy, About Time Tours is more inclined to cover all aspects of the home tour process, not just shows from the listing agent’s perspective.
About Time Tours takes a comprehensive approach by managing client lists, their preferred properties, current and past viewed homes, a user’s listings, preferred homes, and multihome tour navigation support.
Let’s get into that.
The functions are divided into three modules: tours, customers and lists.
The Tours module, its main offering, is map-centric and contains details of upcoming and past tours, and allows users to create a new one. Times are listed with each tour so that the user knows that times and dates do not overlap. However, I want the app to tell me conflicting tour times.
Tours are also categorized by customer name. Would day tours be easier? After all, this is how most of us plan our work weeks.
I like that when you tap on a client to create a new tour for them, it automatically creates a list of their preferred homes. Once a home tour has been created, notifications are sent to the agent via SMS, email and via the app (if used by the agent) for confirmation. When a tour is being put together and a response from a broker indicates that rescheduling is required, the published tour will be adjusted for all parties themselves and buyers will be notified.
Under each address in a tour there is a thumbnail of each property. I think most people tend to visually browse and remember houses so this is a nice touch.
On this front, the app is visually not very boring and could use a certain sophistication of the user interface. Granted, it’s still in its early stages, but future releases will have to include some consumer-facing design retouches to keep user engagement.
In the clients module, the agent can see what is happening to each buyer and seller. You can see which tours they are going to take or have been on, as well as “Interested Properties” and “Properties for Sale” if they are also a seller. This module also provides access to the customer profile, in which a note field allows manual entry of properties of the preferences. You can also tap to text or call the customer.
One problem with this is that customer data comes from them using the consumer-facing version of About Time Tours. You enter it yourself. This is valuable business data that is entered manually by a third party.
It then has to be manually entered into their CRM by the agent a second time, along with their preferred properties that are not entered by the customer – an odd choice too, considering how often preferences change. That’s a lot for the agent to keep up with. The problem here is that About Time Tours cannot communicate with a central database.
In most apps for bidirectional search, when a buyer saves a property, the broker is notified in the backend and can follow up accordingly.
Within listings, users have a breakdown of their own available listings. The tap of one gives you access to all of the tours they are included on, as well as a full MLS detail sheet for each home. This sheet is available wherever an address is displayed in the app.
I find the inclusion of a full MLS function sheet quite strange, especially in the mobile environment. It’s clunky to start with, and MLS data is visually chore in itself, which is why so many home search apps cast their details into their own look and feel.
It is this lack of user interface that leads me to believe that the app may have been brought to market earlier than the internal roadmaps planned. Ultimately, there is no “flattening” of the process, it is simply a home tour process that is replicated in an app.
In order for software to be able to give its best in the end, it has to identify and resolve longstanding pain points in a process. About Time Tours just digitizes every existing step. I suppose it removes the hassle of multichannel coordination and approvals where agents try to put tours together via voicemail, SMS, and email. So there is.
The calendar tool is also called up in the offer module. This is where the buyer’s brokers can see when a home is available and how the brokers can control the viewings.
The calendar tool is part of an About Time Tours browser dashboard, but I don’t see how it would encourage a user to take over an existing Google calendar. This integration cannot come early enough.
However, the native navigation tools are solid. Agents can select a starting point for each tour and the app optimizes the route. Tour routes can be edited manually by dragging one property in front of another. When the tours are completed, they will fill the app’s calendar with the included travel times.
Buyers using the app will be notified that the tour is being created and the route will be sent so they can get to any home safely without having to worry about traffic shadowing their agent like the police would a suspect in one bad crime thriller. (How do you never notice?)
There is a notification mechanism that notifies users when a broker or client needs to change a tour time and gives them the opportunity to suggest an alternative.
Feedback is always important, and About Time Tours gives users the option to pre-fill a simple response form to indicate whether or not it has been shortlisted by a buyer.
Ultimately, I can’t get over the confusion of what this software is trying to be. A tour organizing app would be perfectly fine, but this tangled combination is hard to define.
There are tools for the listing agent (feedback forms, calendar-based availability lock) that are interspersed with a broader solution for managing multihome tours.
I was told that there are plans to help users migrate places of interest from the app to a CRM and connect to Outlook and Google Calendars. I was also hoping to see indicators of virtual demonstrations available. In addition, too much manual input is required at this stage.
About Time Tours has been officially in development since 2018, but it still feels rushed to me, like it will take more time. I can’t help but wonder if the ShowingTime messages compressed their timeline for launch.
There is definitely potential here, but it has to decide what it wants to be, or at least divide its functionality more clearly between ad management and home tour navigation. And it has to get smaller and more sophisticated.
Let’s give him more (roughly) time.
Do you have a technology product you’d like to discuss? Email to Craig Rowe
Craig C. Rowe started at the start of the commercial real estate dot-com boom, helping a number of commercial real estate companies build their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. Now he helps agents with technology decisions and marketing by reviewing software and tech for Inman.