The MassInteract Blog

Real Estate Photography: Use the Right Visuals To Generate Buyers’ Interest

Have you thought of photos as a necessary, but not a critical piece, of a real estate business? Think again.

Firstly, 51% of people who bought a home last year found their home online. That’s a lot of people.  But it’s not just about people finding potential homes online. In this online search, photos play a key role. In fact, listings with high-quality, professional-level photos sold 32% faster than those with ordinary photos.

That’s the difference that good real estate photography can make to your business and that’s why you need to get those photos just right. Here are some of the most important tips to make that happen:

Professional property photography vs amateur photos

While you can use a camera and a tripod to take your own pictures of listings, this isn’t recommended for a number of reasons. Firstly, professional photography equipment is expensive, and it can be a big investment. If you choose sub-par equipment such as a simple 360 camera, the difference between photo quality will be very stark. And in a visual business like real estate, this could cost you heavily in terms of both the quantity and quality of leads. This rule doesn’t apply just to palatial mansions but to all kinds of homes. At the end of the day, compromising on photo quality just isn’t worth it.

Read Also – 5 Questions to Ask Your Virtual Tour Photographer Before Hiring Them

Choose the right real estate photography services

When it comes to deciding whom to hire, there are some simple metrics you can go by. The first, of course, is their portfolio. In an area like real estate photography, work samples will go a long way in showcasing someone’s skill.

You should also make it a point to check out references — the process of working with someone is as important as the end product. It’s a good idea to make sure that the team you will be spending so much time coordinating with is communicative, professional, and respectful.

Shoot 360 photos

In an era of virtual tours and panoramic photography, you should make it a point to have amazing 360 photos as part of your listing. These photos give viewers a never-seen-before insight into the listings, and will automatically set you a cut above the competition. You can even include 360 photos in a virtual tour of the property. This not only gives viewers an extremely immersive experience but also an in-depth understanding of the property so that you only show the property to genuinely interested buyers.

Decluttering and staging the home

You need to declutter the home so that the photos have a pristine quality to them. For instance, take things off your kitchen counters — from the toaster to utensils to the blender. Then scrub the kitchen floor and all other surfaces — from the stovetop to the kitchen table.

You need to apply the same process to every other room. Clear shoe racks, hide pet beds, and any other items lying here and there. In short, everything except large pieces of furniture and light fixtures should be gone.

Then there’s the task of “staging” the home. Ideally, your photography partner should be able to provide this service for you. Professional staging — from a bottle of wine and two glasses on the outdoor table to the right pillows on the couch to a bowl of fruit on the kitchen table — goes a long way in creating attractive photos.

Figure out the lighting with your photographer 

Figuring out the right kind of lighting can sometimes be tricky because there are no set rules. For instance, indoor shots are great when the sun is bright and shining, while outdoor shots come out better when during dusk. Having said that, if a home has beautiful artificial lighting, then some night-time shots can really bring that out in a lovely way. It’s best to communicate with your photographer and figure out the best way to capture all these aspects.

While every realtor knows online photos are essential to generate interest in a listing, not enough realize how much difference a professional set of photos can make. Try using professional 360 photography and you’ll immediately find yourself ahead of the competition.

You may love to Read – 5 Ways in Which the Real Estate Industry is Benefitting from Virtual Tours

Social distancing? Explore the World From Your Living Room with a 360 Virtual Tour

COVID-19 has disrupted life across the world. And if you’re staying home and practising social distancing, you’re one among millions right now. But just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t make social distancing any easier. For those of us who thrive on travel and new experiences, this is a particularly challenging time. There’s only so much Netflix you can watch in a day.

Luckily, there’s a solution. If you’re missing out on those grand, surreal experiences that usually only come with travel, 360 virtual tours can be a great substitute. Built on the same technology that powers Google Maps, these virtual tours can take you into an incredibly immersive experience— and from the comfort of your living room!

For the museum geeks

If you’re the kind of person whose idea of the perfect day is getting lost for hours in a museum, check out the Google Arts & Culture tours. From the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery to the Van Gogh Museum to the Guggenheim and even the Louvre, these virtual tours are incredibly immersive. With state-of-the-art 360 photography, you can now see the Mona Lisa, the Raft of the Medusa, and all these legendary paintings up-close and personal. What’s more, you don’t even have it wait in long queues or jostle through crowds of tourists!

Looking to rest in nature?

Google Earth allows you to access virtual tours of 32 national parks, from Acadia to Zion. From incredible views of the Grand Canyon, Alaska’s Kenai Fjords, and Bryce Canyon in Utah, to guided journeys through Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, and Hawaii’s volcanos, there are thrills galore. So if you’re really missing being in nature and surrounded by scenic greenery and breathtaking views here’s your shot.

Choose from the list of flagged locations of different parks or use the list on the right-hand side of the screen to go to the park that you want. You’ll immediately be zoomed down into the park and you can scroll around the screen to get wonderful 360-degree views. Maybe you can even plan your first post-Corona trip!

Travel through time

When it comes to ancient cities steeped in culture and history, it doesn’t get much better than Jerusalem’s Old City. You can take a fabulous tour of the city— complete with the Israel Museum, the Church of Saint Anne, and a number of holy sites. Once you’ve had your fill of Jerusalem, you can move on to Tel Aviv and check out the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Take a deep dive

If you want an even bigger thrill, try exploring the ocean floor. Thanks to virtual dives from the National Marine Sanctuaries, you can check out a range of areas — from the Florida Keys to American Samoa. PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) has also teamed up with Google Street View and provides underwater views from around the world— from Australia to the Philippines to Mexico to Bermuda.

Get that campus experience

Were you planning on going on some college tours in the summer? Given how widespread the pandemic is, this may not be possible. On the other hand, it’s a great opportunity to explore potential college campuses through virtual tours. These tours give a fairly in-depth understanding of what the campus is really like, helping you make the right choice.

If you’ve already got into college, this might be a great opportunity to watch the virtual tour of your college of choice with your friends and family. If you’re an alumnus, this is probably the perfect time to sit down with your college buddies (virtually of course) and watch your alma mater’s virtual tour altogether. Nothing beats the social distancing blues like a great trip down memory lane.

The bottom line

Social distancing doesn’t have to mean disengagement. There are still ways to experience all that’s beautiful in our world — even if we can’t go outside right this moment. Exploring the wonderful universe of virtual tours and all that they have to offer is a great place to begin. 

Read Also – Does Your Business Need a Virtual Tour?

How to Maximize Exposure for Your Brand by Marketing Your 360 Virtual Tour

Perhaps you’re considering building a virtual tour. Maybe you’ve even created it already or hired a virtual tour company to do it for you. What’s important to remember is that just creating a 360 virtual tour is not enough. It’s how the tour is marketed that is crucial. You have to work on making the most out of this marketing asset — which means more visibility and increased exposure. Here’s how:

Email signature

This is a very simple yet effective way to start promoting your virtual tour. You can’t physically embed your virtual tour onto an email, but you can definitely hyperlink it in your email signature.

One way of doing this would be to take a screenshot and downsize it to 30×30 (30 pixels in width by 30 pixels in height). Then import this thumbnail into your email signature. Click on the thumbnail, find the paper clip icon and click on it, and then add your virtual tour URL to this. If you want something even more creative, turn the thumbnail into an animated GIF, making it even more likely that people will click on it.

If this seems like too much work, just have an anchor tag like “Take a look at our property” in your email signature and just hyperlink it to your virtual tour.

Integrate the tour into your website/app’s user journey

It’s important to have your virtual tour displayed prominently at the right part of the customer journey. You need the user to see the tour after they start exploring the site a little bit, but long before they are coming to a purchase decision. Using pop-up windows at the relevant time is also a good idea to make sure people can really look at everything that your property has to offer.

Promoting your tour on Facebook

Facebook is one of the most friendly social media platforms when it comes to marketing your virtual tour. You can post your tour on your business page and then boost the post or create an ad out of it to generate more traffic to your tour and thereby your website. Facebook ads are fairly economical so if your goal is to get more hotel bookings or get your real estate listing out there, there’s no better way.

Facebook also has an option called 360 photos, where viewers can get 360-degree views of a given area. What you can do is take a look at all your 360 photography and find panoramic photos that you can use in 360 photos. This will give an added edge to your marketing strategy.

Promoting on other social media (Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin)

Facebook is the only social media platform that offers 360-degree compatibility. Having said that you can create animated GIFs of your virtual tour (there are a number of free apps that you can use for this), and then post those to garner attention. With this animated GIF, you can have a short, hip video that will help you gain quick traction on these platforms. Of course, the platforms you will choose to focus on will depend on the nature of your business. Hospitality businesses would likely promote more on Instagram whereas a real-estate business that is selling a commercial property might be better off on Linkedin.

Virtual tours have indeed emerged as the most trendy marketing tool out there, especially in the last few years. But there’s no point in investing time and money to get the tour just right if you’re not going to make it a point to promote it. Make sure you integrate the tour into every aspect of your marketing strategy so that you can get the biggest bang for your buck.

The Top 4 Predictions for the Future of Photography

Photography has indeed come a long way. When it was first invented in 1839, it revolutionized the world through its ability to capture a scene with incredible accuracy. Today, it has advanced in such breathtaking ways, allowing us to click moments and scenes for posterity with the phone in our pocket.

Yet, we have just scratched the surface when it comes to the power of photography. Here are some of the technologies that are set to transform the art of capturing scenes.

360 Photography

A 360° image is nothing but a spherical panorama image which has interactivity built into it. This technique means that you can capture a location from multiple angles, rather than through one simple perspective. 360 photography works great for virtual tours where it can give the viewers an immersive experience, making them feel as if they’re actually in that location. Viewers can rotate the scene in different directions, zoom in and out, enter and exit rooms, read texts, click on links, and watch videos.

With specialized 360° photography equipment, apps, and platforms like Facebook making it simple to share 360° photos, this type of photography is really booming. From interior photography, weddings and events, product overviews, and store interiors to social media engagement and nature and landscape photography, 360° photography is now omnipresent. However, this is still the tip of the iceberg as more and more brands are looking to integrate 360 photography into their marketing strategy.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR/AR)

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) are seeing wide adoption from users now, and the world of photography is richer because of it. Today, VR and AR allows us to capture not only an isolated frame from a particular scene (the way conventional photography does) but actually showcase the entire environment and enable viewers to engage with. Which means viewers have now transformed from passive consumers of images to active participants in the visual process.

VR/AR allows people to capture experiences and environments in a much more holistic way— whether that’s the look and feel of a college campus, the joys of playing a round on a golf resort, or capturing a special family dinner. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI already works inside the camera — whether it’s in autofocus systems, tracking, stabilization, or automatic exposures. The role of AI in photography is only set to expand. Faster and more intuitive autofocusing is the biggest application of AI that one can think of. Entire scenes could potentially be captured automatically with the perfect exposure.

However, AI doesn’t just apply to improvements in camera. AI can also be applied in a big way to image editing software— computers will now be able to recognize every part of a picture for what it is and act accordingly. You will no longer have to manually input keywords.

Smartphones will also incorporate AI in their camera and image editing. Skylum’s Luminar 3, for instance, already has AI-powered filters that make editing really simple and intuitive.

There will also come a time when the 100s of photos you take for the same scene will automatically be deleted, leaving you only with the best shots. This will happen as the AI algorithm learns from your choices over time to know exactly which pictures you will prefer.

For businesses, these leaps in innovation are quite crucial. Many brands are incorporating more immersive 360 photography in marketing assets like virtual tours to build a more holistic and cutting-edge brand experience. This is the perfect time to understand the latest trends in photography and leverage them to build your brand.

The Top 7 Virtual Tour Stats You Need to Know

Virtual tours are all the rage — from top-of-the-line hotels to niche realtors, everyone seems to be integrating virtual tours of their properties with their website. If you’re considering setting up a virtual tour for your business, but aren’t sure if it will work for you, here are some statistics that could help.

Virtual tours increase interest in your business by 2X

A Google study found that people’s interest in local businesses increased by two times when the company had a 360 virtual tour as part of their website. What’s more, 67% of respondents in the same study wanted more businesses to include virtual tours on their website. So not only do virtual tours have good outcomes, but they’re actually becoming the norm and coming to be expected by customers.

Virtual tours mean that people will stay 5-10 times longer at a website

It’s one thing to attract website traffic, it’s another thing to ensure it doesn’t drop off. With virtual tours people stay 5-10 times as long on a website. Naturally, the longer they stay on the website, examining the property, the higher the chances of conversion.

54% of buyers won’t look at a property unless it’s supported by a virtual tour

This is a stat from the National Association of Realtors and it means that buyers will no longer look at a property if it doesn’t have good visual support. This means that if you hope to get views for your listings, virtual tours are a must-have.

The Return on Investment for virtual tours comes in less than 4 weeks

It’s all very well to say that virtual tours bring more eyeballs and website traffic, but are they financially viable? This statistic proves that virtual tours are great for the bottom line. If you can recover your entire investment within a month’s time, then this marketing asset is definitely worth having.

360-degree panoramic images get 45% more engagement on social media than conventional photos

Google virtual tours use what we call 360 images. As virtual tours become more mainstream, these photos have become increasingly trendy, especially on social media. A study by Social Bakers says that organic 360 images get 45% more interaction than conventional photos. This means that businesses that invest in virtual tours — whether it’s restaurants, hotels, realtors, or colleges— have a unique opportunity to get more organic exposure for their brand.

Virtual tours increase bookings by up to 67%

When it comes to hotels and restaurants, having a virtual tour in place increases bookings up to 67%. Having 360 images that come together to narrate a beautiful story immediately gives any hospitality business a major edge above its competitors. Having a virtual tour on your website results in a large increase in that most important metric — conversions.

Listings with virtual tours get 87% more views than listings without virtual tours

If you’re in the real estate business, having property virtual tours is well worth the investment. If it’s you vs. another realtor who has compelling virtual tours on their website, there are no prizes for guessing who’s going to get shortlisted for the physical tours.

In the last few years, virtual tours have become increasingly popular, both as a way of reaching more people as well as getting more conversions. If you’re looking for a marketing tool that really comes with value for money, Google virtual tours are probably your best bet.

5 Questions to Ask Your Virtual Tour Photographer Before Hiring Them

The virtual tour industry hasn’t been around for too long, but it has grown exponentially in the last few years, taking the marketing world by storm. One of the big reasons for this explosive growth is the fact that Google has come into the virtual tour business. Google is using the same technology that powers Google Maps to create Google Street View — virtual tours for business.

As a result, businesses— especially in industries like travel, real estate, and education— have been in a massive rush, trying to get their virtual tours out there as quickly as possible. Given this hurry, a lot of photographers have also emerged, all of whom claim to be experts in virtual tour photography.

Many people have a tendency to hire the person who comes at the most affordable cost. However, it’s important to spend some time to figure out whether a photographer is a right fit for your virtual tour. Hiring the wrong photographer can have disastrous consequences — you may even have to end up redoing the entire thing, resulting in a huge waste of time and money.

Before you settle on someone to whom you can entrust your virtual tour photography, here are some questions you should ask:

Do they have experience in virtual tour photography?

This is probably the most important question. The kind of 360 panoramic photos that are required in virtual tours are very different from conventional photos. Unless a photographer has extensive experience in virtual tour photography, chances are you will end up wasting a lot of time. It’s even better if they have experience in your niche — whether that’s hotels, college campuses, or real estate listings. Try to talk to as many references as you can to make sure the photographer can walk the talk.

What equipment do they use to shoot 360 virtual tour photos?

Google has recently lowered the bar for the cameras that can be used to click 360 images for virtual tours. As a result, a lot of photographers out there have a basic “360 camera” that they will tell you is sufficient to produce high-quality images.

However, if you really want a professional-looking virtual tour, you should have a DSLR camera with a minimum of 16 megapixels. The camera should have both an on-camera as well as an off-camera flash, not to mention wide-angle lenses (usually 10mm). An image done with a DSLR has a much higher resolution; there’s also the added advantage of the lens difference. What’s more, processing a 360 image and moderating the images into a proper virtual tour is best done by someone with the skill set to handle professional equipment.

If a photographer compromises on the quality of their equipment, chances are they will compromise on the quality of your images as well.

Do they have the right technical skills to get the job done?

The photographer needs to have a fair bit of knowledge about the technicalities of 360 photos. Here are some of the main things they should be well-informed about:

  • The best vantage point for a 360-degree spin
  • The correct camera position to achieve proper composition and exposure
  • The best lens to be used in each situation
  • The best time of the day to shoot the images so that the lighting is perfect
  • Staging of the location
  • Staging people in different images
  • An accurate estimate of how long the entire process will take

Do they have the right personal skills to get the job done?

You are entrusting the photographer with building a key marketing asset for you. That’s why personal attributes like trust, professionalism, punctuality, customer service, and work ethic become important. The best way to validate these personal skills is to talk extensively with as many references as possible.

A virtual tour is one of the most valuable marketing tools you can build today — it gives you a Return on Investment in as little as four weeks. Make sure you hire the right photographer to get a high-quality job done within a reasonable time frame.

You may like to read – Hire the Right Company for Your Business Virtual Tour

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

It’s a great time to be a realtor. The rise in disposable incomes around the world means that there is more demand for real estate than ever before. But at the same time, there is a lot of competition among realtors now. Which means that you really need to stand out to make those steady sales and grow your business. In this competitive environment, if there’s one marketing tool that can really help streamline your business, its a real estate virtual tour.

What are real estate virtual tours?

Virtual tours for real estate allow you to create in-depth, immersive tours of your different listings on your website. These tours contain 360-degree panoramic photos that move in sequential order from one location to the next, giving users a complete look and feel of the property, all from the comfort of their own homes.

Benefits of virtual tours for real estate

Here are the top 5 ways in which real estate virtual tours can benefit developers and property agents:

Less effort needed at the preliminary stages

Ordinarily, inbound queries come in from prospects who view the listings on your website. Just viewing images of a listing doesn’t give the user a feel for the property and layout in the same way that a virtual tour does. Which means you end up getting a lot of queries from people for whom the property may not be suitable at all. And you end up wasting a lot of time showing these people the listing, only for them to reject it. With a proper virtual tour on the website, you will only get queries from customers who understand the layout of the property and are really interested in it. This means that you don’t need to spend as much time and energy over people who are not the right fit.

Get that edge over competitors

Virtual tours are not yet commonplace in the real estate sector. This means that if your listings have professional virtual tours, you will immediately be seen as more credible and reputable than your competitors. It’s an easy way to establish authority and credibility in a business that is highly dependent on both.

Build a loyal customer base

When customers come to your website, they will be able to see the listings in a lot of detail. Buyers will be able to get a proper understanding of what the property is like and whether they’d like to go ahead and take a physical tour. Since this saves them a lot of time and energy, while also enabling them to assess a wider selection of properties, they will naturally be more loyal to you. Virtual tours can be the key for you to find that customer stickiness in an industry that’s notorious for fickleness.

Cost benefits

Taking prospective customers to a physical house tour means that you also need to spend money on fuel commuting to and fro. By using real estate virtual tours as a kind of screening process, you can ensure that when you invest in a physical property tour, there’s a high chance of a conversion.

Far superior presentation vis-a-vis regular images

Real estate virtual tours allow you to highlight the property from various dimensions— from the small details to an overview of the entire area. 3D virtual tours use 3D-angle views to allow users to observe all the details of the property. What’s more, good virtual tours have hotspots with buttons and text that gives users an even better understanding of the listing. There’s a world of difference between ordinary images and a full-fledged virtual tour.

If you’re looking to give your real estate business a sustainable edge over the competition, virtual tours are the one marketing tool you need to invest in today.

How to Create the Perfect Hotel Virtual Tour in 5 Simple Steps

When you run a hospitality business, you’ve to figure out two main things simultaneously — getting more customers and making sure the operations run smoothly. Virtual tours are a new-age marketing tool that can help you get booked much in advance, so that you no longer have to worry about finding more customers. You can just focus on getting your operations right and growing your business.

What is a hotel virtual tour?

A virtual tour of your hotel helps you use panoramic 360 images to showcase your hotel in an in-depth, immersive way. If you’re wondering why make a virtual tour for your hotel, a study says that virtual tours increase online sales by a whopping 135%, and generate 46% more sales than still images.

5 key steps for a hotel virtual tour

Here’s a 5-step guide to creating the perfect virtual tour for your property:

Step 1: Find the right partner

Virtual tours are fairly technical to create, and require fairly advanced equipment. Moreover, hospitality is the one industry where you don’t want to create something amateurish. Hire the right virtual tour company to create the tour. Given that you will save on the costs of purchasing/renting equipment, hiring a cameraperson, and buying virtual tour software; hiring someone will probably prove to be more cost-effective as well.

Make sure they have done enough work in hospitality before, especially with a property of your size and scale. Make it a point to get some references before you get anyone on board.

Step 2: Timing key

Figure out the right time to take the photos and videos. You don’t want to take outdoor shots in the middle of the day — the overwhelming light will lighten the natural colour of the objects. Just before dusk, when the sun is about to set, is usually the perfect time for outdoor shots.

Step 3: Build a story

Many hotel owners/ managers want to fit in every single detail about the property in the virtual tour. But this goes against the basic principles of marketing. You need to find areas that your customer will find exciting— and then build a narrative around them.

You have an all-you-can-eat rolling sushi bar at the restaurant? That definitely deserves some great shots! On the other hand, taking photos of the same standard room from different angles is a no-go. Figure out the USP of your property — what would make someone really want to visit— and focus on those areas.

Step 4: Focus on presentation

This is especially important in the hospitality business. You need to make sure that every single location in your hotel virtual tour looks its best. Arrange for a thorough clean-up the day before, rearrange the furniture if you need to, add a few aesthetic touches here and there, and make sure all the selected locations look as close to perfect as possible.

Step 4: Leverage hotspots

Use the hotspots in the virtual tour to add meaningful descriptions. For instance, you can mention any special discounts or schemes that you’re running. You can also use photos of specific areas to highlight what makes them unique — for instance, add the list of specials to you restaurant photos or highlight unique features of your architecture in the lobby pictures.

If you’re looking for that one marketing asset that can really transform the demand side of your business, a good virtual tours is the answer. If you’d like more details around hotel virtual tours and how to get yours up and running, do let us know in the comments below.

How Virtual College Tours are Changing the Student Recruitment Game

Today, technology has transformed the way learning happens. At the same time, it has also changed the way students choose the institutions they want to attend. One of the most important tools enabling this shift is virtual campus tours. According to a collegiate survey, 36% of registered applicants said that they would like to have a virtual tour added for initial evaluation of the campus. An additional 30% of applicants (so now 66% of total applicants)expressed that a virtual tour was a “must-have”. What this means is that virtual tours are rapidly becoming one of the best marketing tools that Universities have at their disposal.

A virtual tour for college allows Universities to showcase their entire campus through an online tour. Virtual tours are very different from ordinary photos and video— they are built with Google Street Views, the technology used in Google Maps. Virtual tours create an experience that is completely immersive — making users feel as if they are actually on campus from the comfort of their own homes.

Whether it’s a breathtaking 360 panoramic view of the campus, user-generated videos, or even a guided voice tour, virtual tours offer an opportunity for colleges to highlight everything the campus experience has to offer.

Benefits of virtual tours for college/university campus

Increasing the outreach of open days

Most colleges/universities put a lot of effort into their open days — building detailed guided tours, finding volunteers, often housing visitors, and so on. However, only those students who live nearby, or those with limitless time and resources can afford to attend open days. With virtual tours, you can bring a large part of the campus tour experience into the homes of the students. In fact, a good virtual tour piques the students’ interest and actually results in a 30% increase in physical visits to campus, which in turn increases the conversion rates for applications and enrollment.

Increase international recruitment

A diverse campus provides the best learning environment — especially when you have students from across the world. But most international applicants don’t have the time or resources to travel all the way to your campus. A virtual tour serves as a great way of enabling these students to understand what your campus has to offer and actually keep you on their radar during the application process. It also allows them to share this experience with family, friends, and teachers— some of whom play a crucial part in the ultimate application decision.

More exposure

When students are viewing an easy, immersive virtual tour, chances are they will share exciting snapshots on their social media. This means you get easy access to their peer group — which is a crucial part of your target audience. This will again help you boost applications and subsequent enrollments.

Finding a connection with digital natives

Most applicants belong to one of two categories — Gen-Zers or late millennials. These people have grown up with technology in a way that previous generations haven’t. Using a virtual tour will help you connect with this audience in a way that more traditional marketing tools won’t.

Coming up higher on Google search results

When you use Google to build your virtual tour, all the virtual tour content is hosted on the Google database. This means you have an inherent advantage when it comes to Search Engine Optimization. Higher rankings mean you will be discovered much more easily by prospective applicants.

If you’re looking for ways to differentiate your campus and build that much-needed buzz for your college, few tools are as effective as a good virtual tour. If you want to get started on building a college campus virtual tour but are not sure how to go about it, reach out to us

10 Must-Have Tips to Create Awesome Virtual Tours

Virtual tours are all the rage these days— and it’s not without reason. Virtual tours allow brands to give online users an immersive experience— a complete in-depth journey through their brand from the comfort of home. But getting your virtual tour just right is much easier said than done. Here are 10 tips for creating a virtual tour that have really worked across brands and categories:

1: Choose the locations you want to showcase

Decide which locations will look best in the tour — preferably spaces that have the right lighting.

2: Make sure the locations are presentable

Just remember that a professional camera will be able to capture the slightest bit of dirt and mess in a location, that too in 360 degrees and in high resolution! So make sure you clean the location areas thoroughly, making them as presentable as you can.

3: Add that extra something

You want to put your best foot forward in the photos. Add small, interesting artefacts to the locations you’re shooting at — from cozy furniture to a vase of flowers to a nice frame on the wall. Just rearranging your furniture to make it look more appealing also goes a long way.

4: Timing is everything

This is one of the most important virtual tour tips. It’s crucial to figure out when you’re going to shoot because the timing determines the lighting. You need to have the best possible lighting for the effect you want to create. In general, the best time is sundown — when the light isn’t too harsh and has a gentle, warm quality.

5: Add some variety to the photos

Make sure your photographer takes photos of each location from different angles and with different zoom areas. Don’t hesitate to break the monotony by varying the number of photos used for each location. For instance, you can use several shots of an iconic garden on your college campus, while only keeping one or two pictures of a standard dorm room.

6: Avoid mirrors

Your reflection or even the reflection of the camera can show up in the photos, completely spoiling the look and feel of the tour. So just be aware of mirrors, reflections, and shadows when you’re preparing the locations.

7: Go all out

You need to think beyond photos for a really effective virtual tour. Try to create hotspots in the tour — including things like videos, photo galleries, social media buttons, and website links. Go that extra mile to create a virtual tour that’s truly imaginative. Ask about our custom tour!

8: Personalize

Customize your virtual tour- use your brand style guidelines— whether that’s your custom fonts, colors or logo. You can also use unusual buttons and pop-up windows to further personalize the virtual tour experience on our custom tour software.

9: Be mindful of the text you use

Use the hotspots in the virtual tour to insert text that is succinct and impactful. A hotspot is a great marketing asset — make sure you use great copy to get the point across.

10: Choose the right virtual tour creator

You need to work with a partner who really knows what they’re doing. The best way is to make sure that they have some experience in your industry. Ask them for sample work— but this may not always be enough. If possible, get them to share contacts of their previous clients, and talk to them to understand what the entire experience was like.

Virtual tours, when done right, can help you connect to an increasingly tech-savvy audience in a whole new way. Make sure you use these virtual tour tips when designing your own tour. If you think we’ve missed out on any tips, let us know in the comments below.

Virtual tours allow brands to give online users an immersive experience. Here are 10 tips for creating a virtual tour that have really worked across brands and categories.

Business Virtual Tour

Hire the Right Company for Your Business Virtual Tour

Gone are those days when online businesses simply used beautiful photos with their textual content to reel in prospective customers or enhance the user’s experience. These days, 360 degree virtual tours are the perfect digital marketing tool if you want to offer your target audience an immersive experience and gain their trust. These tours are interactive, engaging and can be embedded on social media channels too, for easy promotion and to boost brand awareness. Plus, virtual tours show your potential customers that you have nothing to hide and can help them explore your establishment from the comfort of their homes.

So, are you considering virtual tours for your business?

Today, all kinds of businesses, be it a café, hotel, golf course, university, car showroom or gymnasium, are using virtual tours to stand out from competitors. However, if you too are thinking of jumping on this bandwagon, you need to pick the right company that can design the perfect tours. Here are some questions you should ask them. 

  1. Do they understand your goals – Ideally, the virtual tour company should ask you about your ultimate objective. For example, it might involve getting more website traffic, or better leads or more conversions. In other words, a college might want more applications, or a spa might want more people to make appointments for a new skincare routine, or a new café might want more people to become aware of its presence. The company will be able to meet your needs only after that.
  2. What kind of equipment will they use – Always go for a company that uses the latest and best quality equipment, or else the tour will not deliver a great experience or the pictures will be blurry and unattractive. Ask them what kind of camera, lenses and software they will use.

    Read – Find Out Why Your Business Needs 3D Mapping for That Competitive Edge

  3. What all areas will they cover – Make sure you ask the virtual tour provider about the spaces they will photograph. Otherwise, they might miss something you want to highlight or they might focus on something that is not needed. For example, if your hotel has a classy sauna room, you might want the tour to cover it.
  4. Do they have any past experience – Ask if the company can show you any Google virtual tours that they have executed before. To be on the safe side, go for established or well-known agencies or professionals, rather than amateurs. Check the quality of their past tours and also go through client testimonials if possible.
  5. Can they take care of details – A good virtual tour company will make sure that the transition between different spaces is smooth and not jerky. For example, if your college needs a virtual tour, the transition between the cafeteria and gym or dormitories and entertainment center needs to be glitch-free.
    1. Also ask the company about what kind of lighting they will use and why. Some of the best companies try and photograph places in natural light and at the right time of the day.
    2. Find out what they will do to focus on the best features of your property and take away attention from elements like faces, wiring or trash cans etc. A company with the right knowledge and experience will also advise you to get rid of mirrors as reflections can spoil the feel of the tour.
    3. The right virtual tour company can also use personalized popup windows, call to action buttons, fonts and colors to grab your potential customer’s attention. 

Finally, while choosing a company that creates virtual tours for businesses, remember that the right one will not just put different images together to create a tour. They will incorporate a storytelling element and make your tour as attractive, engaging and unique as possible, to ensure better brand recall and conversions.

Read – Why Visual Marketing is the Future for Businesses 

hotel virtual tour

Boost Your Hotel’s Top Line with Hotel Virtual Tours

In the age of social media, standard hotel and resort photography just don’t cut it anymore. To get those round-the-year bookings, your property really needs to stand out. Luckily, there are ways to make that happen these days – and an outstanding hotel virtual tour is one of them.

What are hotel virtual tours?

Hotel virtual tours give users an in-depth immersive hotel inside view. From the rooms and the bathroom to the lobby and restaurants – viewers will almost feel as if they’re walking through the hotel. This kind of familiarity and intimacy means that there is a great chance they will end up booking a room well in advance. In modern business experience, this brings an unprecedented level of predictability in your revenue. This will allow you to leave your day-to-day demand worries aside, and focus on growth and expansion.

Besides, hotel virtual tours are not just for prospective customers who want to come on holiday. They’re just as important for companies that are looking to organize conferences and meetings at locations in different parts of the world — sometimes bringing together hundreds and even thousands of delegates. Giving these companies a virtual tour of your meeting halls and conference rooms, along with the hotel rooms and common spaces, is a great way to get those big-ticket bookings.

Features of hotel virtual tours

Interactive floor plan

With a good hotel virtual tour, users can see an interactive floor plan with unique wayfinding features — interactive hotspots, aerial views, and radar orientation— giving the complete hotel inside view.

Ease of use

Hotel virtual tours are designed to enable users to navigate through them seamlessly. They can either manually tour a series of rooms or simply auto scan and enjoy the entire tour. The tour is also aided by easy directional icons, allowing for an easy transition from one area to another.

Integration with social media

Good hotel virtual tours have a one-click sharing feature. This allows you to leverage social media in the best possible way.

Customized brand identity

You can customize hotel virtual tours to reflect your unique identity as a brand. Integrate your logos, videos, fonts, and colours — creating a unique brand experience.

Responsiveness

A high-quality hotel virtual tour is usually powered by HTML 5 technology. This makes it completely responsive across platforms. So whether it’s desktops, laptops, tablets or mobile phones— Windows, Android, or iOS— the experience is seamless and immersive.

Benefits of Hotels and Resorts Virtual Tours

Find the right customers

Most hotels and resorts that use virtual tours report much higher conversion rates — whether that’s an increase in calls, emails, or other enquiries. Instead of relying on last-minute bookings and walk-ins, you can get fully booked much in advance— allowing you to focus on growth, service, and operations.

Connecting with new-age users

Millennials are one generation that spends a large part of their income on experiences, especially travel. What’s more, they use the internet as their primary source of travel bookings. A cutting-edge, immersive virtual tour goes a long way in increasing your credibility with these travellers.

Ownership of content

A virtual tour involves extensive 360 panoramic photography which you will have 100% ownership over. This ensures that some valuable marketing assets get added to your portfolio for the long-term.

SEO boost

The content from the virtual tour is stored in the Google Knowledge Graph. This means the content is hosted in the Google database, giving you an immediate advantage when it comes to search engine rankings.

At the end of the day, the hospitality industry can be cutthroat. In an age where the rules of marketing have changed so drastically, a hotel virtual tour is a sure-shot way of getting both those eyeballs and those advance bookings.

college virtual tour

Get Your College the Attention It deserves with a Custom Virtual Tour

There is a very simple reason why virtual tours have become a popular tool for visual online marketing. They provide viewers a highly realistic and interactive experience, whether they want to explore a café, hotel, golf course or a college! Especially, in the light of the current pandemic, you need 360 degree tours to advertise and promote your college, so that students can explore its nook and cranny and appreciate all the facilities without leaving their homes and risking their safety. These tours will make it easy for them to choose you over others, for when the new session starts. Plus, they will be able to save the time and money that would have otherwise been wasted on travelling. From the playgrounds and gymnasium to classrooms, dormitories and cafeteria, a virtual tour can cover all those things you wish to highlight.

So, read on to know more about these tours, their features and benefits.  

Different aspects of a custom virtual college tour

For starters, custom tours will make your prospective students feel as if they are right on the campus and taking a stroll around. It is an immersive experience that puts together panoramic photos, videos and voice guidance. Here are some more features they offer:

Responsiveness across devices and operating systems

The best college virtual tour is one that is extremely responsive or can be easily viewed across laptops, desktops, smartphones, and tablets. You can also view it seamlessly on iOS, Android and Windows.

Customized to suit your goals

A virtual tour can be easily customized to meet your specific goals, whether you are looking for more site visitors or more applications. All you have to do is hire the right professionals who can understand your needs and work accordingly.

Possible to measure results

Ideally, you would want to assess if your college virtual tour is working or not. For that, relevant metrics can be tracked with the help of advanced analytical tools, so that you can rely on numbers to tweak your marketing strategy. So, when you hire an agency to craft the tour, always ask how they measure results.

Top advantages of college virtual tours

The best part about these 360 degree tours is that, they get you more exposure than ever. And since they are quick to engage, more viewers are likely to share your tour with others who might be potential students or parents of such students. Here are some other major benefits too:

You will completely own the content

The entire tour, complete with panoramic photographs and videos, will be owned by you. This means, you can use it in the long term for your marketing campaigns.

The tour will draw millennial and Gen-Z students

Since the younger generation tends to go gaga over things that are digitally savvy, a virtual custom tour is a great way to grab their eyeballs. Since everything on your campus is clearly visible on the tour, it will gain the viewers’ trust quickly.

Perfect for raising funds from the alumni

A college virtual tour is not just ideal for getting new students, but also for raising funds from those who have already graduated. For instance, if the tour shows how the college building and premises have improved over time, the alumni network might be willing to contribute to its development and refurbishment. 

It will make our GMB listing more powerful

By adding a custom virtual tour to your college’s Google My Business listing, you can make it easier for the search engine to show up your college when someone makes a relevant query. A virtual tour can increase your website traffic without you having to pay for ads. And if you make the content of your listing SEO-optimized, you can reap benefits like never before.

To wrap up, a college virtual tour that is customized to your ultimate objectives will reinforce your online presence and help you get more attention, footfall and applications. If you need professional help to create a tour, just send an email to info@massinteract.com.  

Does Your Business Need a Virtual Tour?

In today’s age of instant gratification and information overload, it takes a lot for your business to stand out from the crowd and get noticed. In such a scenario, a virtual tour can be a great asset for your business. Not only does it give your business a competitive edge, but it also helps you find a connection with young, tech-savvy customers.

What is a Google 360 Virtual Tour?
Google Street View Virtual Tours are the most frequently used mapping technology in the world. It will create a complete 360-degree virtual tour of your business using the same technology that powers Google Maps.

Prospective customers will be able to enter your business and get a virtual walk-through, creating an in-depth, immersive experience. Not only will this get you more eyeballs and conversions, but users are also likely to share snapshots of the tour on their social media, ensuring great word-of-mouth.

Type of Businesses that Need 360 Virtual Tours
Any business that benefits from customers having an immersive virtual experience will benefit from a virtual tour. When the site and location is a big selling point in your business, then a 360 virtual tour becomes an absolute must. Some businesses that benefit greatly from having a Google 360 virtual tour include:

Hotels and resorts
Having an immersive virtual tour ensures that prospective customers understand exactly how alluring the property really is. For hotels and resorts, this can mean the difference between hoping for walk-ins and being fully booked well in advance.

Universities
Campus tours are part of the application process — students often get the feel of a college campus when they visit it. But a physical campus tour can be extremely time-consuming and resource-intensive. Which is why a virtual college campus tour can help give students that same immersive, in-depth experience. This has an immediate impact on applications and subsequent enrollments.

Golf courses
Many golfers plan entire holidays around the golf course. When they’re searching online, they are more likely to choose a golf course that they have become intimately acquainted with — through the 360 virtual tour of course!

Importance of 360 virtual Tours for Businesses

360-degree

Increased exposure
Not only do you get a lot more views and appreciation from users, but good tours also tend to get shared on social media — automatically getting more exposure for your brand.

SEO advantage
All the content that is part of the virtual tour is hosted in the Google database and is part of its original Knowledge Graph. This gives you an automatic advantage when it comes to rankings on Google search. Higher rankings naturally translate to more website traffic.

Complete Business Listing Status
When you have an official Google Street View virtual tour, your business becomes eligible to receive the Complete Business Listing status. This isn’t something that too many other brands would have, so online searches become much more favourable for you.

Also Read: The GMB Checklist Every Local Business Needs

Great way to introduce customers to your business
With a virtual tour, your customers have the opportunity to get to know your business even before they become paying customers. This goes a long way in building lasting loyalty.

Incorporate dynamic Google-generated content
You can integrate Google-generated content within your website and social media pages— another big SEO advantage.

Connecting with tech-savvy users
A virtual tour is a great way of connecting with increasingly tech-savvy users — especially millennials, who tend to do most of their purchases starting with an online search.

Also Read: Add your Google Virtual Tour to your website – Here’s How

Given the direction in which technology adoption is headed, a 360 virtual tour will soon become almost compulsory for any business. It’s a much better idea to get started immediately and gain a competitive advantage, even as others struggle to catch up in the coming years.

5 Easy Steps to Add a Google Virtual Tour to Your Website

The COVID outbreak has made one thing crystal clear for businesses of all kinds and sizes. Going digital is the only way to survive, whether you want to engage your target audience, promote your products, communicate smoothly or get leads. And a Google virtual tour is one of the best digital marketing tools you can use for this. By adding it to your website, and not just your Google My Business listing, you can boost the traffic you see and nudge leads to become buyers. Whether you are a hotel, park, café, college or gymnasium, potential clients can take a tour of your premises from the comfort and safety of their homes. And once things get back to normal, they can decide to visit you. There is no better way to connect with the discerning consumer and gain edge over competitors!

Now, if you are wondering how to add a Google virtual tour to your website, it’s pretty easy. Just follow the 5 steps listed here.

Step 1

Read – Why Visual Marketing is the Future for Businesses

You can either search Google for your GMB listing or navigate to any page that features your virtual tour. If you want to go the listing way, conduct a direct brand name search or a search using a relevant keyword. After locating the listing, head to the page that is featuring your virtual tour. To get an expanded view that fills the whole screen, click on the tour. Now, you have to pick a starting point for the virtual tour before adding it to your website. So, just explore the tour this way and that, until you find a spot that offers a wonderful view of your establishment. This image will be your starting point. You can also get a clue from the image above.

Step 2

Now, check the top left corner of the tour screen to locate 3 vertical dots. Click on them to get a popup menu. On this, click on the option that says ‘Share or Embed Image’.  

Step 3

Now, it’s time to choose the size of the virtual tour you wish to host on your website. You can make this choice in the popup that appears. Small, medium and large are the three options available for size. Though most websites select any one of these options, some decide to personalize it a bit. To customize the size of the tour, simply choose the ‘Custom size’ option from the drop-down menu.  Always remember to check the final image when you go for a custom size. To do this, click on the ‘Preview actual size’ link. If you are happy with the size, copy the html code in the box after highlighting it.

Read – Does Your Business Need a Virtual Tour?

Step 4

Next, you have to embed the copied html code on that particular website page where you wish to feature the virtual tour. After adding the html for the code, make sure you set the width to 100%. When it comes to the height, it should be ideally between 450px – 550px. This usually works well on most websites, irrespective of the device used. So, you are done. Your Google virtual tour is now on your website, ready to grab eyeballs!

Step 5

Last but not the least; view the tour on your website to make sure everything is fine. You can also send out the page to colleagues and friends, so that they can check too. The tour should work smoothly across devices.

In case you are not too sure of going through the steps above, get a bit of professional help to be on the safe side.

Read Also – How Virtual College Tours are Changing the Student Recruitment Game

Your Local Business Needs This Power-Packed GMB Checklist for Better ROI

There is no denying the fact that digital marketing has leveled the playing field for big and small businesses somewhat, if not all the way. Today, a small local bakery can try and establish a solid online presence to bring in more traffic and boost its revenues, despite the presence of giant competitors. And local search has a significant role to play in this. For instance, did you know that close to 90% of those who conduct local mobile searches visit or call the store the same day? Plus, if you are a forward-thinking business, you already know why Google My Business or GMB listing is essential to empower your local SEO strategy.

Local SEO and Google My Business

Like we said before, modern businesses who are even a little aware of digital marketing, know what SEO is. Basically, your website needs to be optimized with the right keywords so that its visibility increases or it earns a better rank on the search results page.

Local SEO follows a similar logic. The only difference is it helps businesses with a physical presence to attract local customers. So, imagine, a potential customer is searching for chocolate cakes near him, and your business shows up on the first page! There is a high probability that he will call you or visit you to place an order. And this is where a Google My Business listing becomes important.

You see, a GMB listing tells your customers where you are located, what directions to follow and also shares a short story about your brand, product and service. These days, it is even possible to include special promotions and discount announcements in these listings.

Now, if your GMB listing is optimized well, a generic keyword search will help the customer to land on your listing on the very first page of search results. In other words, if you get this listing right, you can make the most of local organic searches or discovery searches. In fact, according to a Bright Local survey, every month, an average business gets around 1009 customer searches. And discovery searches account for 84% of these.

So, here’s the GMB checklist you need to follow to make sure that your listing is as perfect as possible.

Ensure correct information and remove duplicates

If you are wondering how to set up Google My Business, just visit and follow some simple instructions. If you already have a listing, make sure that the basics are right. Like, your business name should be the one that appears on your storefront, website and other marketing materials. The address should be correct too, and same as on other directory listings, website and social media pages. A working phone number with local area code should be included, so that Google can match it with the address. Avoid toll-free numbers. And do make sure that there are no duplicate listings.

Categorize your business right

It might interest you to know that more than 300 popular categories are listed on Google to help you categorize your business easily. Though it is obvious, note that the first category you pick is your main category and should represent your business as correctly as possible.

Like, if you are a ‘Pizza Restaurant’, it may show your local business listing to those searching for ‘Restaurants’, ‘Pizza’, or ‘Italian Restaurants’. In case your exact category isn’t available, choose the most relevant category. If you are selecting additional categories, make sure they complement your main category.

Your introduction should do the talking

To get Google My Business optimization right, make sure your introduction is crisp, informative and engaging, apart from being keyword-rich for local SEO. Short paragraphs, bullet points and subheads can make it more readable and attractive. Focus on your business’s USPs. Remember that the “user intent” is very high during a mobile search, and hence, the description should be mobile-friendly and formatted accordingly.

Photos, videos and virtual tours can help

The GMB checklist for local businesses is incomplete without this tip. Nothing beats visual marketing, even if you have a compelling description to hook searchers. High-quality photos of your store, products and even staff can be helpful. Photos based on facilities or even customers being helped can be useful. Good photos can boost your ROI, and so, try and hire a professional photographer.

Short videos are a great idea too and can ensure better recall. Or, go for a 360 degree virtual tour, especially if you have a restaurant, café, hotel, spa, gym etc. This will be immensely engaging for your potential customers as they will get to assess your store or outlet before paying a visit. Click Google Virtual Tour of your business to get started.

A bit of extra info can seal the deal

While creating or updating your GMB listing, think from a customer’s perspective. For instance, if you run an IELTS coaching centre, stating the correct business hours, prices, and payment modes will help. Remember to include special offers and events as well, to attract more visitors. You can also include CTAs or call to action buttons like “Request a Quote” to prompt searchers to contact you. If you are a hotel or eatery, an option to make a reservation online can help immensely.

Get and manage reviews smartly

Reviews can make or break your venture, especially in the digital world, where it takes a few seconds to write a review on social media platforms. While an exceptionally good service or product can earn you a glowing Google My Business review, poor service can irk a customer quickly. So, when you do something good, consciously, request reviews from your customers. If you are a café, ask how the dishes look and taste, or if you are a spa, ask if the massage offered relaxation. Then thank your customers by offering a discount on their next visit or a complimentary product or service.

Tackle negative reviews intelligently as well. Respond to them at the earliest, show that you understand the customer’s concern, and offer a solution proactively. Try and channel the conversation to a private messenger. Post resolution, a customer might change how he rated you too.

Business verification and URL linking

It is not enough to power up your Google My Business listing with all the necessary information. You should remember to verify your business too. Only then will your photos, contact number and description appear on Google Maps. Once done, a badge called Verified will show up next to your business name.

Now, when it comes to linking URLs, if you have a single store location and single website, the task is easy. In case you have multiple locations, a separate page will be needed for each. And each of those pages should be linked to the concerned landing page. You can also link your listing to social media profiles to increase engagement.

Finally   

So, the above GMB optimization checklist is your best bet if you wish to stay updated with Google My Business listings. For more information on how you can optimize your listing, send an email to info@massinteract.com.

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