The MassInteract Blog

Why Wedding Venues Need Virtual Tours to Gain a Competitive Edge

My particular upbringing has allowed me to gain a great deal of insight into the challenge that wedding venues run into when recruiting clients. Wedding venue owners work strenuously to create and market the perfect space for couples to experience the best day of their life.

I grew up in Apple River, IL, on an outdoor wedding venue called Oak Hill Weddings. My mother decided to invest in building a wedding venue from scratch, which naturally became a family business. I have watched couples come to our venue in search of their “happily ever after”, throughout my life. I have helped my mother with everything from touring to marketing – which has proven to be one of the most challenging parts of owning a small business, given our many competitors.

Every year, in the United States, around 2.5 million weddings are held. This steadfast industry is hard to disrupt – the institution of marriage continues to be respected and cherished! So, what is the secret to successful wedding venue marketing? Wedding Wire, a listing and blogging platform devoted to weddings, popped up in 2006, allowing brides to quickly evaluate potential venues. Similar platforms started to emerge soon after, such as WeddingBee, Bridal tweet, Wedding Mapper, etc. Nowadays, along with this free marketing, venue owners tend to lean on social media, Google Search, and their website, to sell their services. Although a website is essential to successfully build a business, small business owners need a competitive edge to stand out and make an impression.

Read Also – Why Visual Marketing is the Future for Businesses

I also interviewed my mother’s managing partner, Sandra Wolfram, about the challenges that Oak Hill Weddings has faced with regard to marketing development. She stated, “Our clients come from a 2.5 hour radius, making it hard for potential clients to make the trip to Oak Hill Weddings. In-person tours have also declined tremendously, given the current societal circumstances – COVID-19. We have multiple beautiful outdoor ceremony sites, a brand-new pavilion, a barnhouse, country store, and church that are dying to be shown off.”

The solution? A virtual tour, also known as 360 degree panoramic imagery. A virtual tour offers a uniquely immersive online experience, giving potential clients the opportunity to explore the beauty of a venue, without being physically present. Business owners can embed this tour on their website, social media pages, and all Google platforms, to boost bookings as well as online traffic. Hence, a virtual tour can eliminate the stress of marketing and simultaneously improve a business’s image, sales, and brand value.

Read Also – 5 Ways in Which the Real Estate Industry is Benefitting from Virtual Tours

6 Tips to Boost Brand Exposure with Virtual Tour Marketing

Virtual tour marketing is no longer an alien concept for businesses that are trying to optimize the digital space to generate more traffic, leads and paying customers. Practically every forward-thinking business knows how an engaging, information-rich and immersive virtual tour can hook more people quickly, make them linger on the site, and even make a purchase. But nothing will pay off for real unless you know how to market your virtual tour effectively and grow brand awareness. Here are 6 ways you can go about it and get impressive results.

Promote on your website, obviously

Every business, no matter what its size, has a website these days. And usually, any careful customer will end up visiting it to know all about you, before they take a decision. So, it makes perfect sense to upload your virtual tour on the website, and in a way that it easily attracts attention. For instance, if you run a bakery, the virtual tour should appear on your landing page, contact page, about page, and the page dedicated to your offerings. In case you have a blog, you can promote your virtual tour there too. Apart from that, make sure your website is mobile-friendly, loads quickly, has a smart and clean layout, and is optimized for search engines.

Grab eyeballs on Facebook

Facebook is a wonderful platform to market your virtual tour as you are likely to find most of your potential customers here (especially if you are a B2C business). Just take a screenshot of the tour and upload it on your business page with the URL below, so that people can get redirected easily if they want to watch the whole show. You can also put the 360 Photos feature on Facebook to good use, by uploading the best parts of your virtual tour. It will turn the photos into a 360-degree experience, so that viewers can get a realistic feel of what your business is really like.

Read – Why Visual Marketing is the Future for Businesses

Don’t ignore Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn

Instagram is the next best place to promote your virtual tour, after Facebook. This especially makes sense if you are a business that banks heavily on visuals, like a tour agent, hotel, café or spa. Twitter is also a cool platform to spread the word about your brand. And LinkedIn is perfect for businesses that are a little formal or B2B in nature, like hardware, heavy machinery, chemicals and so on. To promote your Google virtual tour on these social channels, you will need to put in a tad more effort. You can use a free app (there are many available online) to turn your tour into a video and then an animated GIF.

Give your emails a boost

One of the best virtual tour marketing ideas is to add the link of your tour when you are signing off. Right after you put in the name of your business at the end of the email, add a short phrase like “Take a tour of our campus”, “Explore our golf course”, or “Check out our café”. Then hyperlink it with the tour URL. Or, to make things a little more interesting, take a screenshot of that part of the tour which seems most appealing. Save it as a 30×30 thumbnail and import it in your email. After you place it right, click on it and enter the tour link.

Give online directories a shot

Online directories usually list a variety of businesses, ranging from apparel stores and car showrooms to restaurants, gyms, salons and more. So, use virtual tour marketing to make your listing stand out and catch eyes fast. This will give you a competitive edge, impress prospective customers and get you more traffic.

Power up your Google My Business listing

By adding a virtual tour to your GMB listing, you can rank higher on the local search results page. When potential customers near you get to explore your business from the comfort of their home, they will tend to trust you more and visit you in person. They can also compare you with other businesses easily and take a decision quickly.

Hopefully, these virtual tour marketing ideas will help you improve your brand awareness, strengthen your online presence, and get more sales. And if you need help putting together an awesome virtual tour, get in touch with us at info@massinteract.com.

Read Also – Does Your Business Need a Virtual Tour?

Drone 3D Mapping

Drone 3D Mapping Made Easy With This Quick Guide

Drone 3D mapping is highly efficient when it comes to delivering accurate mapping results. And this commendable efficiency that makes it a great asset for several sectors including agriculture, mining, construction, real estate, and infrastructure inspection.

Having an accurate photograph or 3D model of your projects complete with in-depth data plays a vital role in making an informed decision. Not just that, drone mapping is also comparatively cost-effective and less tedious. If you have set your sight on it, here is the quick drone 3D mapping guide to getting started on the right note!

What is Drone 3D Mapping?

Drone mapping takes advantage of an innovative technique called photogrammetry to acquire essential data or gather measurements. For those unfamiliar, photogrammetry is the technique that enables you to take measurements from photographs.

Thanks to the drone’s rapid speed of data acquisition and advanced software, you can now create survey-grade (ASPRS Standard) data a lot faster and with better proficiency.

Depending on your needs, you can show the derived data as an orthomosaic, topographical map, a point cloud, a digital terrain model, or even a digital surface model. Moreover, the data can also be visualized through a 3D textured mesh.

Read – What 3D Modeling is All About and Why It’s So Important for Your Business

How much does drone mapping cost?

Gone were the times when drone mapping was considered quite an expensive proposition. Thanks to the introduction of cost-effective yet exceptionally advanced drones like Phantom 4 Advanced and Phantom 4 Advanced Plus (starting price $1350), drone mapping will no longer burn a hole in your pocket.

Drone Mapping

So, whether you are a farmer, a land surveyor, or a real-estate businessman, you can make the most of a drone to carry out the essential tasks faster. And that too without having to break the bank or sweat!

Which drone mapping app should you choose?

Unlike before, the market is flooded with a ton of drone mapping apps that allow you to transmit and process the data in the cloud. As to which one should you choose entirely comes down to your requirements and budget.

Based on functionality, there are three types of drone mapping apps in the market: Acquisition Software, Processing Software, and All-in-One Drone Mapping Software.

Read – The Top 4 Predictions for the Future of Photography

Acquisition Software: It is handy for planning missions to garner aerial imagery. Pix4D Capture and Maps Made Easy are some of the notable examples of acquisition software.

Processing Software: It enables you to create maps, orthomosaics, point clouds, as well as other deliverables from imagery with the help of photogrammetric calculations. PhotoscanAgisoft, Inpho, Pix4D Mapper are some of the well-known examples of processing software. 

Sticky Note:

  • A point cloud is basically a compilation of points or coordinates on an object’s surface. You can use the compilation of points to create a 3D model of an area.

All-in-One drone Mapping Software: As the name itself suggests, it’s a powerful and high-end software that’s designed to take care of all the tasks related to drone mapping. Be it the ability to transmit the data to a cloud server or the skill to automatically process the data in the cloud to create the desired output, it’s got you fully covered.

DroneDeploy has long been a top-notch drone mapping software. What sets it apart from many other rivals is the ability to excel in several fronts including the ability to make digital terrain models, orthomosaics, garner NDVI data, and even generate 3D models. It’s aimed at three industries like farming, surveying, and construction.

Pix4D is a robust suite of photogrammetric software. It consists of several different versions like Pix4DMapper for mapping, Pix4Dbim for construction, Pix4Dag for agriculture, and Pix4Dmodel for 3D modeling.

Furthermore, Pix4D also offers a handy mobile app (PIX4DCapture) to let you automate the mapping process with both DJI drones and Parrot drones.

Read Also – Hands-On Guide to Getting Started with 360° Photography

360° Photography

Hands-On Guide to Getting Started with 360° Photography

When it comes to immersive viewing experience, nothing comes closeto a 360° photo. With the deep insight into the surrounding, it capturesthe attention right away. If you are charmed by 360° images and are looking for the pro tips to get started with 360° photography, you are at the right place!

What is 360° Photography and Why It’s So Exciting?

In an age where Facebook and Instagram dominate the sphere and smartphones like iPhones and Galaxies challenge the supremacy of DSLRs, sharing stunning images has become an order of the day. While businesses share eye-catching shots of their offerings to stay in the hunt, netizens share their memories to win attention.

Thanks to the ability to deliver vivid detail, 360° photography has become a rage today. For those uninitiated, 360° images are a series of still images snapped in a sequence, presenting a remarkable view of not just the subject but also the background.

Read – The Top 4 Predictions for the Future of Photography

What sort of gears do you need to capture 360° shots like a Pro?

The key to capturing top-notch 360° photos is to have an armory of solid gears. If you don’t want to compromise with the quality of the shots, invest in them.

DSLR or flagship smartphones like iPhone and Pixel

Though smartphones like iPhones, Pixels, and Galaxies have come a long way in terms of camera quality, they are still not in the same league as DSLRs. So, get one to deliver top-of-the-line visual appeal.

A robust tripod

You should go for a robust tripod for better control. It can let you install your DSLR or smartphone perfectly to capture desired shots from different angles.

Cayer AF2451 ($164.99 on Amazon) is one of the better professional camera

tripods.Constructed with high-grade aluminum, it sports a durable appearance. What puts it ahead of the curve is the ability to offer 360°-panning and +90/-70° tilt.

(Pic Credit – Amazon)

Fisheye lens featuring 180° FOV

The fisheye lens with 180° FOV (field of view)is designed to deliver excellent visual distortion that plays a vital role in creating wide panoramic or hemispherical photos.

Shutter release cable or remote

We would suggest you get this one. Pressing the shutter button with the finger could cause the VR head to shift which might disarray the stitch alignment. Thus, get a remote without fail.

Pick the right software

There is no dearth of software for 360° stitching. However, the 360° photo stitching programs that are ahead of the curve are PTGui and Hugin.

Go for a neat VR head

A VR head comes in super handy when you want to set up your equipment to shoot 360° pics. And for this purpose, it’s Nodal Ninja Ultimate seems a touch better than many other counterparts.

Read – What 3D Modeling is All About and Why It’s So Important for Your Business

Best tips and tricks to shoot top-notch 360° photos

No matter how good your gears are, they can’t deliver the best, if you haven’t set them up properly. For starters, find the perfect spot for the camera and ideally set up the tripod in keeping with the theme and the sort of images you want to capture.

Another step is to fine-tune the camera settings like focus, aperture, white balance, and shutter speed in line with your needs. For instance, if you want to capture sharp and detailed images, always shoot 360 images at an aperture of f/8.

Shooting 360 photos with precision

Once you have customized the camera settings, it’s time to get started with the shooting. We are going to use the Nodal Ninja VR head powered by the Sigma 8mm fisheye lens.

To get a full-on 360° image, we will need to snap four photos at 0°, 90°, 180°, and 270°. Bear in mind, rotating the VR head counterclockwise could unscrew it. Therefore, always make it a point to rotate it clockwise.

After that, you can export your stitched panoramic image and share it with your friends or followers. If you wish, you can even turn it into a 360° virtual tour by using programs like My360 and Pano2VR.

Read Also – Why Visual Marketing is the Future for Businesses

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