As with anything your marketing team invests in to promote your company, venue or services, virtual tours should be carefully implemented so as not to waste money and time only to end up with a gimmick. Having a strategy for using your tours is crucial to getting the most return on your investment. We’ve seen a lot of great examples of our clients making the most of their content and we’ve also witnessed some less than impressive implementations! Here, I’m going to give you a few pointers on what to avoid and what you can do to maximise engagement with your potential clients.
 
TAGGING
 
One of the most powerful features of our virtual tours is the interactive tagging that you can embed within them to give more information or to link to your web site etc.. We see some fine spaces that are stunning to look at but feature no tagging at all or sometimes basic information that states the obvious. Give people additional information that they are likely to be interested in – link to bookings pages, embed your promotional video from YouTube, allow people to browse your menus or even link to another tour if you have multiple spaces captured.
 
Something else that can really make your tours stand out is embedding video interviews with staff explaining more about a particular feature or service that you offer. Nuffield Health use this to great effect in their gym tours, see below for how they use tags to introduce gym machines, personal trainer programmes and more:
 
 
WEBSITE PROMINENCE
 
This seems obvious but you’d be amazed how many people hide their tours away deep down inside their website. Have your tour somewhere prominent – the home page is obviously the most visited page on your site, so if you have a tour here it will gain more views, but if it doesn’t fit within that page’s design or structure, at least have it somewhere that will get natural traffic rather than people needing to search for it. Hotels such as the Mannin Hotel in the Isle of Man usually have individual tours of their different room types and you can see on their website below how easy it is for potential guests to explore these rooms and compare before booking:
 
 
INDIVIDUAL TOURS v ONE SINGLE MODEL
 
Often clients ask us to create enormous models of their whole sites, lured by the appeal of having a lovely looking 3D model at the end of the process. This can look fantastic, but it’s very rarely the most effective means of creating content that works for a sales or marketing team. Individual spaces are far more beneficial as you can embed these smaller tours on relevant pages on your site rather than having one, giant model that someone has to navigate around, potentially losing interest of missing the areas you’d want them to visit.
 
We have seen almost entire football stadiums scanned as single models by some other providers and they are truly terrible to use and offer the sales team nothing valuable to work with. Scan the suites separately, don’t bother with the long corridors and tedious stairways and end up with content you can target your audience with.
 
We can create that big dollhouse of course, but it costs a lot more, takes more time and may not give you the most useful content at the end of the day.
 
ADDITIONAL FEATURES
 
As well as giving you a link to your tour and an embed code, we will supply short teaser videos and dollhouse images, which offer something different to engage with your online visitors or social media followers.
 
Dollhouse images can be screen grabbed, tidied up with some basic trimming in a photo editing program and then used to show a room layout overview. Have a look at how Norwich City Football Club present their rooms on their hospitality website:
 
 
 

In the link below, you can see how the Cugo Gran Grand Harbour Hotel in Malta uses teaser videos on their room pages rather than tours themselves – again, another use of the additional content we deliver after scanning:
 
 
 

SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN 
 
Having your tour featuring prominently on your website is one thing, but your customers may not see it unless you drive them there. Use your social media platforms to engage with people and encourage them to click through to your tours. Some of our most visited tours are not the biggest name clients or most interesting sites but those that know how to capture the interest of their target audience. 
 
Design a social media campaign that schedules posts featuring links to your tour. Visits will drift away if you fail to continually remind people of your tours, so schedule in some engaging social media content, drive people to your website, use those additional features such as dollhouse images and teaser videos as well as the links to your tours themselves. Also, analyse the traffic to your tours and your web pages that contain the embedded tours – we can provide you with your tour visit statistics upon request.
 
PREPARATION AND PLANNING
 
Prepare the space and present it as you would want it to be seen – remember, our cameras will see what you can see and you cannot “photoshop” things out in post production. Also, plan what you want from your tours. This seems obvious, but if you consider the journey of your virtual visitor through your site and what you want them to be sold on, you can be reminded of areas or features that you wanted them to see. Have a focus – don’t ask for a huge scan of an entire site if you’re only really interested in “selling” a few select areas. Firstly, that wastes time in setting those areas up which costs you more in scanning, and secondly, it can lead to a less than engaging user experience. 
 
 
At hi-impact we prefer to work as your partner on any scanning projects, learning about your needs and strategies before creating anything for you. That way, you will obtain results that really work for you. Hopefully, you have found the above useful but if you have any questions or want to chat to one of hi-impact’s scanning operatives, do get in touch and we will be more than happy to help. 
 
 
Written by Simon Sloan, Operations Manager, hi-impact