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About Time Tours is a mobile app for showing at home and scheduling tours.
Platforms: iOS, Android; browser app
Ideal for: Brokerage, agents and multiple listing services
Main selling points:
- Application for both platforms
- Local MLS integration
- Developed by agents
- Previous tours recorded by customer
- Tourism route
The competition in the home and exhibition space tour is getting thicker, and it seems to me that this app was removed while it was still in development. If you’re interested, have a solid idea of where you are before you commit.
What you should know
Another home tour and presentation app (for mobile and desktop) emerged from Bend, Oregon, immediately after ShowTime became part of Zillow.
But while your neighbor Instashowing Emerging as the first performance scheduler competitor to announce the new Zillow toy, About Time Tours leans more toward addressing all aspects of the home tour process, not just exhibits from the listing agent’s perspective.
About Time Tours takes a full-featured approach by managing client lists, their preferred properties, current and past homes viewed, a user’s listings, preferred homes, and multi-home tourist navigation support.
Let’s get into it.
The characteristics are distributed in three modules: Tours, Clients and Listings.
The Tours module, its main offering, is map-centric and details future and past tours, and allows users to assemble a new one. There are times listed with each tour so that the user knows not to overlap times and dates. However, I would like the app to inform me about conflicting ride times.
Tours are also classified by customer name. Would organized tours by day be easier? After all, this is how most of us plan our work weeks.
I like that when you tap on a customer to create a new tour for them, it automatically generates a list of their preferred homes. Once a home tour is created, alerts to the listing agent are sent via text message, email, and via the app (if used by the listing agent) for confirmation. If a tour is put together and then a listing agent’s response indicates a need to reschedule, the posted tour will automatically adjust for all parties and buyers will be notified.
There is a thumbnail image of each property below each address on a tour. I think most people tend to navigate and remember houses visually so this is a nice touch.
On that front, the app is a bit bland visually and could put up with some UI sophistication. Of course, it’s in the early stages, but future releases should include some consumer-oriented design tweaks to encourage user engagement.
The Clients module is where the agent can see what is happening with each buyer and seller. They can see which tours they will be or have been on, as well as view “Homes of Interest” and “Homes for Sale” if they are also sellers. This module also offers access to the customer’s profile, where a notes field allows you to manually enter some property preference details. You can also touch to send a text message or call the customer.
One problem here is that customer data comes from them using the consumer-oriented version of About Time Tours. They enter themselves. This is valuable business data that is entered manually by what amounts to a third party.
The agent will then need to manually enter it a second time into their CRM, along with their preferred properties, which the customer does not enter, which is also an odd choice given how often preferences change. That’s a lot for the agent to keep up with. Herein lies the problem that About Time Tours does not able to communicate with a central database.
In most two-way search applications, when a buyer saves a property, the agent receives a notification on the back-end and can track accordingly.
Within listings, users have a breakdown of their own available listings. Tapping one accesses the tours they have been listed on, as well as a full MLS detail sheet for each home. That sheet is available as long as an address appears in the app.
I find the inclusion of a full MLS datasheet quite strange, especially in the mobile environment. It’s clunky to begin with, and MLS data is inherently visually tedious, which is why so many home search apps repurpose its details in their own appearance.
It is this omission of the interface that gives me reason to think that the application may have been taken off the market earlier than planned in the internal roadmaps. Ultimately, there is no “flattening” of the process, it is simply a home walkthrough process replicated in an app.
For the software to perform at its best, it must identify pain points in a long-standing process and resolve them. About Time Tours simply digitizes each existing step. I guess it takes the hassle out of coordination and multi-channel approvals where agents try to organize tours via voicemail, text message, and email. So there it is.
The calendar tool is also accessed in the Listings module. This is where buyer’s agents can see when a home is available and how listing agents can control visits.
The calendar tool is part of a navigation pane of the About Time Tours browser, but I don’t see how it would encourage a user to adopt it over an existing Google calendar. This integration cannot happen soon enough.
That said, its native navigation tools are solid. Agents can choose a start location for each tourand the application optimizes the route. Tour paths can be edited manually by dragging one property in front of another. When finished, the tours will populate the app calendar with travel times included.
Shoppers using the app will be notified of the trail creation and the route sent so they can safely get to each home without having to worry about following their agent through traffic like cops do with a suspect in a crime thriller. (How do they ever know?)
There is an alert mechanism so that users know when an agent or customer on the list needs to change the time of a tour, offering them the opportunity to suggest an alternative.
Feedback is always critical, and About Time Tours provides users the opportunity to pre-fill out a simple response form indicating whether or not they were on a buyer’s finalist list.
Ultimately, I can’t get over the confusion over what this software is trying to be. A tour organizing app would be totally fine, but this confusing combination is hard to define.
There are listing agent tools (comment forms, calendar-based availability blocking) with a more comprehensive solution for managing multi-home tours.
They told me there are plans to help users migrate the app’s houses of interest to a CRM and connect to Outlook and Google Calendars. I also expected to see availability indicators virtual projections. Too much manual input is also required at this stage.
About Time Tours has been officially in development since 2018, but it still seems rushed to me, like it needs more time. I can’t help but wonder if the Displaying weather news compressed your timeline to launch.
There is absolute potential here, but you have to decide what you want to be, or at least fork your functionality more clearly between show management and home tour navigation. And it needs to be made smaller, more refined.
Let’s give it more time.
Do you have a technology product that you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe
Craig C. Rowe got his start in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping a number of commercial real estate companies strengthen their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology and marketing decisions by reviewing software and technology for Inman.