A Beginner’s Guide To Virtual Tours

This article will give you the basic understanding you need to commission a virtual tour. It will cover the essentials and be a beginner’s guide to virtual tours. There will be future articles with more details but for now this will be a great start.

What Is A Virtual Tour?

A simple description of a virtual tour is a photographic rendering of a building or other location that has been designed for an Internet browser. A further description would be a series of images stitched together and advance technologies that create a convenient and photographic walkthrough of your location that is viewable from an Internet connected device. Virtual tours have been used as a great feature on many websites. In the past they have been standalone presentations on CD/DVD. The viewer is capable of immersing themselves in the image and controlling what they see by moving around a 360-degree photograph. Able to see floor to ceiling, earth to sky and focus on areas that interest them.

A Beginner's Guide To Virtual Tours
A Beginner’s Guide To Virtual Tours

How Are They An Effective Marketing Tool And Why Should I Have A Virtual Tour?

The ever-increasing 21st century tech-savvy consumer who searches online for everything wants information on-demand. With websites being more commonplace and expected by customers to find your business. An essential and proven marketing tool for websites is a virtual tour. The high cost of travel has made consumers less likely to travel. A virtual tour gives them the same experience but without leaving the comfort of home.

If a potential customer searches for your facility online, what would they see? What separates your facilities from your competitors? Businesses and property people are you looking for a way to enhance your website and provide something unique. A well-designed virtual tour are usable for several years and enhances your viewers experience as well as keeps their attention. Resulting in an increase in sales or contact and encouraging viewers to re-visit.

Today’s event planners are not all professionals they are brides & grooms and the general public. But both are searching via the Internet. Planners look through lots of venue websites to find the perfect one for their clients. Have the planner find what they are looking for faster. A virtual tour provides the information a planner would require. Showing the available rooms e.g. lobby, guest suite, conference room, ballrooms and etc. Communicate layout, size, surrounds and features of your facility in a no-pressure environment.

Don’t you want to show the quality and investment you have in your business? Give a realistic experience, have viewers step inside your venue and imagine visiting you! Virtual tours give the viewer the power to control where they are going and navigate around. Virtual Tours bring your product or venue to life.

How Are Virtual Tours Created?

After commissioning the virtual tour a photographer is scheduled to photograph your location. The photographs are then stitched together and sent for retouching. When the retoucher is satisfied the images are past to the virtual tour creator who puts the images together in a custom design. Once uploaded you are able to view and give amendments. When completed a final version is uploaded.

How Long Does It Take To Photograph and Create A Virtual Tour?

The virtual tour process depends on the complexity of your virtual tour. Most virtual tours can be captured and processed in the same day. The increase in time happens when you include maps, pop-ups, videos, sound etc.

Will The Web Page Slow Down Because Of The File Size?

No, virtual tours are optimised to small file sizes and to retain image quality. With each image being less than 1 MB for web and 7 MB for CD. No reason to worry about bandwidth caps. Current median average download speeds in the US is more then 50Mps, which has increased exponentially over the years and only being raised in the future. Mobile data speeds’ being as fast means theirs no reason to not add a virtual tour to your website today.

Where Can Virtual Tours Be Displayed?

Virtual tours can be displayed at any screen resolution. Viewable on customers’ high definition monitor and mobile device via a web browser. Have a Facebook page and social media profiles then upload or link your virtual tour to them. Embedded to your current website with a design to match or display full screen and immerse the viewer.

How Do I Navigate A Virtual Tour?

360-degree virtual tours are navigated using a mouse or keyboard and on mobile devices a touchscreen or their equivalent. By clicking and dragging in the direction you want to go will spin the image. Using a scroll wheel lets you zoom in or out. Depending on your preference, virtual tour creators, can overlay an interface that has buttons for navigation and matches your website. Features we recommend are linking doors to different locations and make a walkthrough. A map or floor plan will give viewers access to different parts of your facility easily. Hotspots are used to include links to parts of your website. Pop-ups are to give more information, a photograph or video.

How Are The Virtual Tour Images Hosted?

There are two ways that they can be hosted. The virtual tour files are emailed to the people who controls your website and virtual tour creators can work with them to integrate the virtual tour. The second way is that virtual tour creators can host it on their servers and send you a link that you can embed or link too. A hosting fee is involved. The advantage in hosting with them is that if they need to make a change they can easily re-upload, the link doesn’t change and if your website gets a lot of visitors the load is distributed.

How Much Does A Virtual Tour Cost?

This depends on the type of 360-degree virtual tour you are commissioning. The average price virtual tour creators charge per rooms is $200. The cost per room does decrease with how many rooms you need. The extra features and design work are additional costs that have to be calculated in and this could increase the total cost.

Our recommendation is that you discuss your ideas, budget and requirements with virtual tour creators. This can best help them advise you on what features to provide for your viewers experience. They aren’t the cheapest but they invest in new equipment, training and software to keep themselves up to date. The reason they invest is that they know you have to use these virtual tours on your website for several years and they want you to have the best results. Retouching costs are high due to the skill and time required, best to prepare the location before the photographer arrives and decrease the amount of retouching needed.

What Extra Features Can A Virtual Tour Have?

A select few features for your virtual tour are text, logos, hotspots, splash screens, navigation buttons, maps, floor plans, music, animations, weather effects and videos. When showing a map virtual tour creators are able to link the camera direction to the map for viewers to see the direction they are looking in. If you have a outside location Google maps can be benefit as it shows the virtual tour in relation to a physical location.

Can I Use The 360-Degree Panoramic Images?

Yes! Great question. The images don’t only have to be for the virtual tour they can be used to great effect in marketing literature. You can have them printed and displayed at your business. If you have plain lampshades they can be printed and displayed and have light pass through them.

What Are The Business That Can Benefit Most From Virtual Tours

People that would most benefit from a virtual tour are architect, car manufactures, conference centers, football clubs, golf clubs, hospitals, hotels, museums, property developers, restaurants, schools, universities and anyone else that has a great location they want to show to potential customers.

Architects And Property Developers

A high quality and relevant virtual tour can build your brand and sell your product. For architects a website is all about the portfolio and since most potential customers are unable to view the property you have designed a virtual tour is a great alternative as it sill gives them a tour. It provides visuals for the architects work and they can see from ceiling to floor and zoom into the small details. Giving your firm an advantage over your competitors, as potential customers will have a better insight into your product.

Care Homes, Health Spas and Gyms

A virtual tour of a care home, a sports facility, a gym or a health spa gives visitors a realistic impression, helping them to make the decision to visit you in person.

Chartered Boats And Yachts

A charter boat or yacht is something you have to be onboard to appreciate. Virtual tours are a great way to show people around and give a realistic representation. Weather you are looking to sell, charter a boat for a luxury cruise, allow the whole world to see for themselves how it actually looks! Doesn’t matter how big or small a virtual tour shows what you have in the best way weather humble or luxurious. The stunning virtual tours we make are high quality, easy to use and impress anyone who is searching.

Education And Training

When potential students are searching for multiple schools, colleges or universities would it be better if you could show them an interesting and interactive virtual tour that keeps them engaged. Adding text and sounds gives the ability to provide all the information of your prospectus. For training purposes it can explain a location e.g. a chemistry lab with hotspots on equipment and chemicals providing users with more information via text, sound or video. It can be used in a variety of businesses and the military to great effect.

Estate Agents

This is where virtual tours are proven to increase exposure whether you are selling or letting. Immersive, quick and easy to use and able to advertise when you are out of the office. Give them a complete view of all the property without the hassle of scheduling times and making travel arrangements. The prospective buyers are able to see top to bottom and every wall. They can move from the interior to the exterior with only a click of a button. It’s the best way to show new builds and high value properties. Let potential buyer walk through the property and imagine themselves living their having family meals, sitting around the TV and BBQs in the garden with friends.

Hotels, Guest Houses & Bed And Breakfasts

When a potential customer looks at your website what will persuade them to book? Is it your brand, star rating, room rates or room style? Based on studies 69% of people booking rooms are finding visuals important to their selection. This is more valuable then star rating, hotel brands, loyalty programs and even customer reviews. Potential customers want to see your hotel, guest house & bed and breakfast on your website and if unavailable they move to your competitors. Virtual tours are high quality images that can let your potential customers step inside your rooms and have a realistic impression.

Restaurants And Cafes

In the age of the Internet, customers are looking for restaurant websites and seeing how it looks before going. Add a virtual tour today and don’t be past over. You have taken great pride in your restaurant and are forward thinking enough to have a nice website, why not finish it off with a virtual tour. Imagine if you added a virtual tour of the kitchen. Visitors to your website will not only be interested in seeing what it looks like, but they will be even more impressed knowing that you are confident enough to give tours of the kitchen (albeit virtually).

Stadiums, Cinema, Theatre, Concert And Venue Halls

When you spend the amount of time and investment in making your venue as great as it looks and only having the people who come in person see it seems like bad business why not let anyone in the world see it and have them want to go. The people who book tickets are researching online to see how good their seat are and looking on third party websites you don’t control, so by showing how good their seats are can increase your sales. Give future concertgoers and even booking agents and band managers, the opportunity to “be there” without being there!

Tourist Venues

A virtual tour can give potential visitors a taster of your venue, leaving them keen to see more. Whether you are a stately home, a museum, gardens open to the public, or any other tourist attraction, then a virtual tour would be a real crowd-puller!

Weddings And Catering Halls

Do you want your Wedding Facility or Banquet Hall to stand out from your competition get your business a virtual tour? Give those web visitors something to look at by providing stunning, interactive 360-degree panoramas. Let the planner be more confident and show them the banquet room, bridal suite, cocktail area, bar, lobby, gardens or more without leaving their home or office. Give them the chance to walkthrough with a virtual tour, the next best thing to being there and potential customers will thank you for it.

How Should I Prepare Locations Before The Shoot?

The intent of the virtual tour is to show your facilities at their best. Therefore I would suggest making it look its best by fixing any problems. Have wall art available to stop walls from looking bland. If you wish to have people in the virtual tour please inform us to bring release forms. 

How Should I Choose A Virtual Tour Provider?

The main reason for choosing a virtual tour creator is they have the equipment, training and software. Your time would be better served for marketing and keeping good customer relations. A good virtual tour comes from good photographers.

Virtual Tours And The Disability Discrimination Act

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) aims to make sure that the disabled people in US are treated fairly in everyday life. The act focuses on the service provider to make their facilities more user friendly for disabled patrons. This is particularly relevant to museums and galleries who “make reasonable adjustments and provide auxiliary aids and services to make services more accessible” and fulfill the requirement of the law. A reasonable alternative can be permissible when there is no direct access available. A virtual tour can comply with the brief and give disable users the alternative way of finding and controlling information.


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