What is a Virtual Tour?
A virtual tour is a 360° image of a particular location. It includes a sequence of videos or still images, so people can view an entire area without having to be physically present. Some virtual tours also include sound effects such as music or a narration describing products or points of interest. Many offer buttons that can be clicked on by users who want to take a still image of a particular portion of the tour.
Let’s Take a Closer Look at Virtual Tours and Video Tours
Virtual tours should not be confused with video tours, even though both types of tours are similar. Video tours only allow users to see one point of view at any given time. With a virtual tour, users can see an entire panoramic scene or zoom in to get a closer look at a particular area.
Who Uses Virtual Tours?
Just about every single industry uses virtual tours. The following is a look into which companies use virtual tours the most:
Tourists naturally want to get to know a place before spending thousands of dollars booking a vacation there. Virtual tours make this desire a reality by providing travelers with a clear view of notable tourist attractions, local hotels, and restaurants. Some of the many locations one can view online with ease include the Holy Land, tourist spots in Thailand, Washington, D.C. and the Machu Picchu in Peru. Museums and galleries also offer virtual tours with narrations explaining the meaning and importance of various artifacts and exhibitions.
Showrooms and Stores
A virtual tour can enable companies with showrooms to exhibit products 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A panoramic view of a showroom is far better than even a set of high-quality photos as it allows potential customers to zoom in on particular products that catch their interest.
Private schools and universities compete with each other for the best students, so it’s not surprising that many would use a virtual tour to showcase the campus, classrooms, and other facilities. While wealthy parents could easily afford to visit any given school or university, such individuals are typically very busy people who would naturally prefer to check out schools or universities online instead of having to visit campuses in person. Some of the prestigious educational institutions that offer virtual tours include Harvard, UC of Santa Barbara and Stanford.
Real Estate Agencies
Real estate agents have found that virtual tours can help potential buyers get to know a home before paying a visit in person. With a virtual tour, a buyer can see if the house is right for him or her; this saves an agent the time and hassle of offering an in-person tour of the house to someone who has no intention of making a purchase. Construction companies that build custom homes have also made use of virtual tours by offering potential customers a 360° view of various house plans so home buyers can see the pros and cons of any given home plan.
How Can Virtual Tours Boost Traffic and Sales?
There are several ways in which virtual tours can boost online traffic and sales for just about any company that offers visual products or services.
Improving Local SEO
First of all, virtual tours improve local SEO traffic. This increase is vital to those who search for a local business in a particular area. Typically serious customers already know they want to make a purchase and are looking for the right company. A virtual tour is particularly useful in increasing views from smartphone users as such individuals typically use Google Maps to find nearby locations and then click on spots with a virtual tour to decide which place to visit.
Boosting Social Media Presence
Additionally, virtual tours make it easy for customers to tell others about your business. Virtual tours posted on YouTube may automatically be listed on the first page of search engine results if a company uses the right keywords to tag the video. Furthermore, virtual tours make great social media content that can be easily liked and shared, thus providing a company with free yet invaluable advertising. You can even offer more than one virtual tour if you own a large store, have more than one showroom or have just opened a new branch of your business.
A virtual tour is a powerful tool in the hands of any business that wants to improve website traffic and sales. The one-time investment of having a professional photographer put together a virtual tour is almost sure to pay off in the long run as the tour attracts a steady stream of website visitors and customers. While some industries naturally use virtual tours more than others, the truth is that just about any company can benefit from a virtual tour and all that it has to offer.