28th January 2021

A quick guide to...Virtual Tours

Our services explained

Immersive technology is versatile and varied, offering a whole range of practical uses that make our lives easier, from virtual events to AR apps. In our ‘Quick guide’ blog series, we take a look at some of the services we offer here at Immersive Studios to help you understand the types of experiences available – and how they benefit you. First up is virtual tours.

  

What is a virtual tour?

A virtual tour is a sequence of 360º videos or images that are edited together to create a simulation of a physical location, sometimes with interactive hotspots built in. Virtual tours let you explore a place almost as if you’re there – either through your mobile device, desktop computer or VR headset – meaning you can get a feel for a place without having to travel there. Generally virtual tours are created using filmed images but they can also be created using 3D models and assets, for example for architectural visualisation.

 

Why have a virtual tour?

Whether you’re selling houses, educational facilities, tourist destinations or more, it helps if the customer can actually see what they’re buying. But travelling can be tricky – especially since the coronavirus pandemic. The restrictions on travel and the need to maintain safe social distancing measures mean that virtual tours are now more relevant than ever across multiple sectors, including:

• Property
• Tourism
• Education
• Heritage and culture
• Architecture
• Film production and more.

 

What are the benefits of a virtual tour?

 

Drive conversions

There are multiple benefits to creating a virtual tour. A 2019 survey by Google showed two thirds of people wanted a virtual tour when looking at a listing online and, in 2020, Zoopla cited that virtual tours of properties tripled in the first month of lockdown in the UK alone. This is because virtual tours give the user a much better sense of place than 2D videos or images. This in turn drives conversions – keeping people looking at a website or product offering for longer and increasing engagement, helping them to make up their minds.

 

Cost-effective and environmentally-friendly

Virtual tours save money. Offering them means people all over the world can experience a place – be it a university, new home or tourist destination – without having to travel. This not only saves money but it protects the environment and boosts accessibility too. For example, a virtual open day tour we created for the University of East Anglia saw a 131% increase in visitor numbers, including significant international students, without anyone having to travel.

 

Controlled content

Overall, virtual tours offer a rich experience for users with options to add in sound effects, voiceovers, and hotspots triggering extra multimedia content that wouldn’t necessarily be available during a physical tour. This means you can control the content and sales message – and users can potentially find out more about a place by looking at it virtually than by visiting in person.

 

How do we do it?

Our team are experts in creating virtual tours, whether through 360º videography or full CGI. One of the methods we use is through Matterport technology. Using photos taken with a 360º camera, we deploy Matterport’s software to create a highly-accurate web-based virtual tour of the location or property. The user then navigates on a desktop using the mouse or explores via a VR headset. These types of tours allow you to jump from room to room from a top-down or doll’s house view, or click through to move through the space as if you’re walking around. Take a look at our Matterport case study to see for yourself.

We also offer fully bespoke interactive 360º video tours. Our team will travel to the location and film, stitch and edit the footage together before adding hotspots for the user to trigger extra information. This could include content such as 2D video or image slideshows, which we can also create for you. We can also create 3D modelled tours, where we may use photogrammetry or lidar scanning to create an accurate 3D version of a space that can be explored via VR; or model an environment from scratch if the place is not yet finished, e.g. a new property development.

 

 

Want to create your own virtual tour? Get in touch to chat ideas.