360 Virtual Tours - Why What and How

Origin Story

In 1994, the first-ever virtual tour was designed to demonstrate a historical English castle referred to as Dudley castle, the tour was a reconstruction of how the heritage site looked 500 years younger, and today, there are thousands of virtual tours visited by hundreds of millions of internet users around the world, and businesses are taking tours to the center of modern marketing tools in a wide range of industries, what is this all about? what's the trick?


No trick, I would say, and if you experienced the digital dream-like-experience with magic controls, you'd probably agree that its an amazing achievement, and although rendered virtual, the interactive 360 walkthrough stands as a true testament to human creativity, coupled with decades of research and incremental improvements to keep the technologies involved on the rise, and now we see it backed by companies like Google and Facebook driving both the hardware and software trends up and forward.


So the technology is here, affordable and available to you, well, "what's in it for me and my business?" you might ask, good question, let us explore a few benefits and point out the most shared positive impact witnessed by companies using virtual tours

Psst: If you haven't toured virtually before, stop reading and go see 360 tours in action here!

Benefits and advantages of virtual tours for business


As the internet is getting crowded, sales and marketing professionals are hustling and always on the hunt for possible leverage over the competition to improve the return on investment, these teams are well aware that a slight advantage could carry along a massive improvement on the bottom line.

Reach Bigger Audience Globally

Observed by early adopters heavily in industries like real estate, education institutes, tele-tourism, and showrooms, simply by eliminating the friction of travel in decision making you have the online world as your target audience as we witness a post-pandemic world forming, the lines on the map are becoming more obsolete.

Provide Memorable Brand Engagement

By embedding a tour on your website and sharing it on your social media channels, you are placing your brand at the top of the game, to be perceived as a company that goes the extra mile to stand out and is up to date is a big deal especially for younger decision-makers in the workforce.

Drive Lead Captures To Close More Deals

Due to the facts you're reaching wider audiences and presenting a first impression that lasts, guess what? YES! improved metrics on many levels, from people spending more time on your platform to boosting your social media shares that have a direct impact on your funnel, and using a few tips discussed below, you are even more likely to see virtual tours on your website cause a sales surge.

Even governmental and nonprofit organizations are leaning more to use and distribute virtual tours, mostly seen in documenting historical sites and scenes of high cultural significance around the world, which speaks to the effectiveness of virtual tours on metrics other than sales and revenue, like user satisfaction and delight.

Choosing the best virtual tour for your objectives


Although no official virtual tour definitions are set, some terms used by photographers and virtual tour builders may vary and at times interchangeably used, here we'll list some of them to give you the means to know what you really want and seek it.

Floor plan: The simplest of tours, a virtual map that has pictures of the building, usually a flat 2D map with pins representing a Steadicam location and direction that a user can navigate like a presentation.


Expedition: Usually consist of a cohesive 3D representation of a Floor Plan, with simple 360 pictures that can be viewed on a browser or using a VR headset.


Virtual Runs: An immersive 360 tour in a video format, although this kind of tours might offer continuous image, the user does not have the ability to control the pace or order of the tour yet.


Reality capture: A sophisticated virtual tour build that has a semi-reality functionality and enables the user to walk around the space, rotate, and if drones were involved in the 3D scanning, a user could view the scene from the outside providing eagle eye view from the sky for an enhanced context.


Digital twin: The term coined to represent a virtual tour that went through software manipulation to adjust or enhance the tour in the making process, mixing the 3D design and 3D scanning to export a package that is seamless without a doubt, used for high-quality representation with art and creativity involved.

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Technical Considerations


Specifications

Camera resolution, picture quality, and surface area covered all play roles in the process speed and output object size, in addition to the techniques used like omnidirectional cameras or image stitching.


Hosting

Another important aspect of planning your interactive tour elements is the server-side of things, which has a direct impact on availability and security, different solutions are out there with variable prices that vary from little to too much that we'll discuss in a later post.


Distribution

After your 360 tour is up and running, it is important to spread the word using your current marketing tools and tactics, your tour resembles a high-quality piece of content that you're putting out to the world, make sure you give it the awareness boost it deserves from your marketing efforts.


Goal tracking

This is where you'll be able to measure qualitatively and quantitatively, few techniques involved in traffic measurement using events and cookies that can track how many impressions, clicks, time spent and traffic sources, again, just like you would track a website form, offer, blog post, etc.


If you have further questions on the technical aspects of a virtual tour, contact us and we're happy to answer your questions to help you achieve your business goals, no obligations.

Takeaways


Technology and ideas are constantly improving, will we get to the point where a v-tour will substitute for the real destination? In a sense, we believe we're on the way there, and we're continually keeping an eye on the latest trends and the best solutions available as we aspire to impress our clients, by giving them the means to impress theirs.


On our own website we noticed visitors are spending more time and flipping through more pages than usual, we also received feedback that is similar from our clients in various industries, we've seen it work for others and without a doubt will do the same to your business.


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