The phrase “virtual tour” is used loosely all to often, creating a bit of confusion. A 360 Tour is completely different than the old slide show virtual tours that used to have ownership over the term. Today’s Virtual Tours have created a 360-degree experience that has changed our entire perception of virtual reality. Virtual tours have allowed us to visit places as if we were there in person. To visit destinations throughout the world, peak our curiosity beyond our own imagination, and even take control to do things like booking reservations and hotel rooms; all without ever stepping foot outside of our own home.
So how exactly do these virtual tours work? Here are 7 clear and descriptive answers to some of the most commonly asked questions by viewers who want to know a little more about this revolutionary technology.
What is a 360 Virtual Tour?
A 360 virtual tour is a thorough and complete 360-degree by 360-degree view of a physical property. The end user can literally feel as if they are at a location, without ever physically stepping foot into the establishment. They can look up above them, at the floor below them, left and right, and all around. Users have the ability to zoom in and out, allowing viewers to focus in on specific areas of interest with a clearer outlook on their focal point.
Each virtual tour is created from a number of photographs, which are ‘stitched’ together to create a distorted panoramic image. The image is then coded into an online software program that “wraps” the distorted image to create a sphere that looks as if you are actually standing in that location and allows you to move your mouse or smartphone to look around.
Where are 360 Virtual Tours Used?
360 Tours have been commonly used by real estate agents worldwide for quite some time now and have solidified the new wave of how we view real estate listings, multi-housing units and commercial properties nationwide.
High-resolution tours that can be viewed at full screen are usually the best option for any industry leader who prides themselves on quality.
Hotels, clubs, venues, theaters, universities, car dealerships, and amusements parks are just a few of the industries that have grabbed a hold of using this innovative online marketing tool. Almost any business that has some sort of structure or area to show is a great candidate for a 360 Virtual Tour.
What Kind of Features do 360 Virtual Tours Offer?
You can use 360 virtual tours in various ways on your site, depending on how you’d like to display them.
Here are a some key features that have transformed the way we look at a “virtual tour”.
Floor plans give a birds eye view of the property and allow the user to click different areas on the floor plan to move from room to room.
Google Maps interfaces enable users to view where a property is located on a map grid, so you can figure out exactly where to go when visiting the location.
Hotspots enable the viewer to move around from room to room by clicking the hotspot arrow. The arrows point in the direction of the desired location so the viewer is able to get a feel for the layout of the property.
Audio and Voiceovers
Audio such as music or voiceovers can be integrated and layered into a majority of 360 virtual tours. It usually depends on the software being used by a virtual tour company. This feature is great to set the mood or to allow a voiceover to guide and assist you through a 360 tour.
What is the Benefit of Having a Virtual Tour on Your Site?
A 360 virtual tour which is relevant to the viewer can help both build a brand and sell a product or service. Take for example a multi-housing (apartment) unit. A potential resident usually wants to shop around, look at multiple units and models before making a decision to sign on the dotted line.
By giving users access to all your model units, around the clock; even if they aren’t available at the current time, will put your property a step ahead of the competition by making your potential client’s buying process a lot easier than your competitors.
How Should You Go About Choosing A 360 Virtual Tour Provider?
The great news is that there are a lot of virtual tour companies to choose from. Unfortunately some provide mediocre results.
Your best bet is to make a qualified list of virtual tour providers and then have a very detailed look through their sample work.
- Pay attention for ‘stitching errors’ – places where the photographs that make up the 360 tour don’t line up properly.
- Look for clarity – are the lines clear and sharp, or are they fuzzy and pixellated?
- Check for over-exposure – Can you see through windows, or are they very bright, distorted, and hazy?
If you are looking for high quality 360 tours, it’s critical that your 360 virtual tour providers have great photographers. We highly suggest taking a glimpse at a virtual tour companies sample work before moving forward with a decision.
Is a 360 Virtual Tour Service Expensive?
Prices will always vary from project to project, and virtual tour provider to virtual tour provider. The main thing is to get a clear understanding of what you’re getting charged and why?
Don’t be afraid to ask things such as:
- Will add-ons cost?
- Are day rates?
- Are Travel expenses?
- Are hosting fees?
- Cost per still image?
- Cost per panoramic?
Once those numbers are determined, look at the quality of work for each 360 virtual tour company. Compare and contrast, play with the features, and maneuver yourself through the actual virtual tours.
This way you know first-hand, what you will be paying for. Also, keep in mind that you only pay one time for a virtual tour and can use to for years, so the ROI is extremely elevated compared to other marketing techniques.
Is a 360 Virtual Tour Easy to Put on a Website?
Every 360 virtual tour provider has their own way of providing you with files or links that can be uploaded to your site.
Some virtual tour companies host all their virtual tours on their own servers. This makes it seamless for anyone with even the slightest amount of knowledge for web development and web design, to integrate the virtual tours onto their sites by themselves.
There are several plugins through which people can view 360 virtual tours.
Once you decide on a virtual tour company, talk to a company representative about what option they usually recommend for their clientele.
Great 360 virtual tours that can withstand the test of time and enhance your site visitors’ experience will be likely to increase sales, encourage people to return to your website, and increase both traffic to your site and location.