What are the benefits of virtual 360 tours to businesses?

How businesses can benefit from using 360 tours

What are 360 tours?

I cover this in more detail on my virtual tours services page; in summary, a virtual tour is a digital simulation of an actual location made up of several photographs (panoramas) or videos stitched together into an interactive & engaging experience. Think of Google maps from the street view, where you can look and move around the environment. A virtual representation of the actual world.

You’re taking your audience on an experience without them being physically present at your establishment. For example, draw in your clients so they can see what your business offers them before they arrive.  

Client Experience

The beauty of 360 tours and photography is your clients control their experience. I’m sure you’ll agree most of us like to be in control most of the time! So putting the power into your client’s hands can only be good.

They can look where they want from the comfort of their home via your website, Google Maps, or a VR headset. Therefore easier for clients to learn more about your business and grow more comfortable with your brand (Known, Liked and trusted).

By utilising Interactive elements within your 360 tour, users can click on specific points of interest and get more information about your location and what you can do for them.

One example would be clients who are much further away from your business premises or less mobile due to age or disability and may want to check appropriate facilities before they visit your business in person. Then, they can experience it as if they were there simply using their mouse or touchscreen. 

Online Engagement & Seach (SEO)

A 360 tour encourages users to stop, “look around”, and explore your venue and any interactive elements within the tour. The longer they engage and use your virtual tour, the longer they are on your website. Research indicates that visitors to websites with 360 tours remain 5-10 times longer. 

Keeping them on your website longer can reduce page bounce rates (time spent before a user clicks or bounces away from your page/website) as bounce rates are a measurement in Google search console. It can affect how search engines gauge the quality of the information on your website. A signal that people are interacting on your page for longer sends more positive signals to search engines to rank higher in search results (Search Engine Results Page SERPs) and increase traffic. 

360 Tour Photography of Vintners Place London on Google Maps
Example of an Equirectangular Photograph

They can boost your social media engagement. For example, you can upload 360 photographs (Equirectangular images) directly to Facebook, which will work interactively. Plus, you could offer clients the opportunity to tag themselves in your virtual tour. 

Facebook has also said posts with 360 content are three times more likely to be shared than other posts.

Google Maps

Google Maps is a powerful marketing tool which can help boost your business by providing more visibility and increased exposure. For example, adding 360 photographs to Maps encourages users to explore your Google Business Profile and generate more views of your business, potentially increasing your business profile ranking results.

Example of 360 Image embedded into Website

It also happens to be my Studio! Take a look around!

Other Platforms

360-platforms are compatible with most devices – Working on computers, laptops, phones, tablets and, of course, VR Headsets. And while not all social media platforms currently support interactive 360 tours or photography. You can get around this by using software to manipulate the (2D still images) equirectangular photographs, turning them into a video, playable on any platform – Great for things like TikTok, Reels or YouTube shorts, etc.  

You can upload 360 photographs to youtube as a video too. It’s another way to boost your business on Google. Remember who owns YouTube? That’s right, Google!

Example of viewing 360 images via YouTube

Business Brand

There isn’t a marketing expert that would say, “be like everyone else.” or “don’t stand out.” But you know it’s essential to differentiate your brand from others and be in front of the mind of your potential customers. 

360 Tours is innovative, and the market is young and growing in popularity. It stands out and is not like everyone else (yet), so there isn’t a better time to invest.

If you’re not taking advantage of the new technology, you can bet that you have competitors that are. They’re using the tours to create that memorable first impression – It has a Wow factor because it’s new and gives more control to your audience.

  • 360 Tours provides an immersive, more interactive experience than a typical website. 
  • Transparency builds more connection because the clients can see – The same principle of why headshots are essential.
  • Sets your brand as being innovative

ZMOT

Research has documented that most people will head online to research products and services before they purchase. And they’re more likely to buy the more they can see and learn about your business. 

ZMOT (zero Moment of Truth) is the point in a customer’s journey when exposed to your brand. Still, before they’ve made the purchase – The customer is actively researching and comparing products/services they intend to purchase but have not decided who from yet.

It’s when they compare websites for the “one” that ticks all their boxes for what they need. The trick is to make your brand as strong as possible by helping them make a more informed purchasing decision, and they will be more likely to settle with you. 

The more they’re on your website, the more it stands out over others and the greater the likelihood that your brand will stick in their minds.

It's Fun!

Consumer attitudes are changing – The new generations are more technically aware and willing to adopt new technologies and innovative ways of purchasing decisions.

It’s not just about educating clients; we must also consider engagement and entertainment to attract customers.

We have already seen this with short-form videos with TikTok. Consumers want fun. Well, 360 tours add fun to your visitor’s experience. 

Introducing the gamification of client touchpoints can showcase features in a fun way. (Notwithstanding, it’s fun to be nosey!) Gamification and interactive elements promote exploration and encourage visitors to stay longer. Increasing chances of conversion and, as already mentioned, sending positive signals to Google.

For example – You could hide “hotspots” within a tour for users to discover themselves like a competition – Look around and find the hidden voucher – Remember, this keeps them on your website longer. So they’re more likely to stay because of a reward!

You Decide. Which one would hold your attention for longer?

The following visual content is from a photoshoot with Bexleyheath Artist – Bespoke Creative Design. Which piece of content do you find more interesting/entertaining?

Bexleyheath Artist - Bespoke Creative Design
A static 2D photograph...

Or an interactive 360 tour?

Popularity

The interest in 360 Tours and virtual reality is growing. As a result, businesses are starting to realise the potential and invest more in 360 technology. 

360 photography already supports regular digital marketing channels, Websites, Google and Social Media. And as technology improves, demand for virtual reality platforms will grow. 

Market research indicates the global Virtual Reality industry will continue to grow. The global virtual reality market size was valued at $21.83 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.0% from 2022 to 2030 (Reference: Grand View Research)

Your competitors may already be investing in 360 tours. And if not. There’s an opportunity to get ahead now.

The Hospitality & Leisure Industry

360 Virtual Tours offers a unique perspective of many different types of business. In particular, the hospitality industry has seen a lot of growth. It’s easy to see why. Not only do they allow for a great deal of exposure. They’re also more engaging to use! Types of hospitality businesses which can benefit:

  • Airbnb property
  • Hotels
  • Pubs & Bars
  • Restaurants
  • Nightclubs
  • Sports venues
  • Gyms
  • Theatres
  • Museums
  • Tourism – Local attractions & theme parks
  • And many more!

When attracting visitors/guests to your venue, it’s essential to show how your premises appear from all angles with interactive elements that can lead visitors through their decision-making process or sales journey.

Here are several examples of how 360 tours and photography can boost the online awareness of hospitality businesses.

Airbnb (equally applicable to hotels and other accommodations)

While regular property photography of your Airbnb is essential for giving your potential guests an idea of what to expect at your property, a 360 Tour take it to the next level.

Being able to demonstrate how spacious your rooms virtually allow them to look around themselves and learn about your Airbnb’s amenities interactively – keeping more of their attention on your property and making it easier for them to decide. 

You can even use the traditional 2D images within the tour too. They are further enhancing the visitor’s experience and keeping your property very much in the front of their minds for standing out. 

Example Airbnb Property Tour

You can learn more about this tour in this client case study post

Holiday Parks

Similarly, they can check Google Maps for nearby locations for a glamping holiday park with amenities such as swimming pools, camping and outdoor entertainment. With 360 photography, these parks can highlight their facilities on google. By making the process immersive, you’re making your venue more memorable than others.

Wedding and event venues

Many couples will research their wedding venue online and create a shortlist of the ones they want to visit. How about allowing potential clients to explore your venue’s space and facilities? Which venues are more likely to get into the shortlist? Those with 360 Tour or without a tour?

Restaurants

Imagine a customer scrolling through their Google Maps, looking for a place to eat. If you’ve taken a 360 Virtual Tour of your restaurant, they’ll be able to see the dining area before they walk in. They may even see a behind-the-scenes of the kitchen (promoting transparency).

The interactive elements allow customers to explore your restaurant before deciding where to visit for lunch or dinner.

Real Estate & Property Market

Whether sales or rental, 360 tours have seen the most significant growth in this area. 

  • Less frustration and time-saving for the potential clients to explore the property before they visit
  • Your clients & visitors can explore in their own time.
  • According to industry research (SeekBeak)-  several years ago, listings with 360 tours get clicked on more than listings without virtual tours.

Retail

Retail businesses can benefit from 360 tours to differentiate themselves on the high street. For example, you can show the shop’s exterior via Google Maps (improves local search results) and share the interior – What can the customer expect when they arrive? I will cover this in more detail in a future article. 

Industrial & Construction Sectors

Another area seeing growth with 360 photography and video is the construction industry, especially when tracking project progress and updating clients. For example, it’s not always practicable for project stakeholders to visit the location (time, distance, etc.) and be onsite. Being able to” see” the site virtually would avoid those factors. Other uses include:

  • Initial surveys – creating different views and vantage points for construction project planning. 
  • Accessing hard-to-reach areas – Being able to show stakeholders areas that would otherwise be too dangerous or difficult to access. Using 360 cameras on extendable poles or even using drones.
  • Documenting details during critical construction phases – Before, during and after images. Imagine seeing where wiring and plumbing are in a 360-space pre-drywall placement—invaluable information for future work and renovations.
  • As a collaboration tool between contractors, designers and architects to monitor progress without unnecessary visits and help eliminate bottlenecks in the project.

Training & Education

I want to cover this in more detail in a future article, as the potential for using Virtual Reality and 360 platforms is unlimited! First, however, here are a few thoughts.

  • Interactive elements make learning & training more memorable and, therefore, more effective.
  • Greater accessibility No need to travel to the training environment.
  • Explore a school, college, university or adult education facility in a way that would not be possible with traditional photos or videos.
  • Less cost for the trainer/trainee.
  • A way for schools and educational institutions to showcase their facilities to prospective students and parents.
  • Medical – Imagine being a junior Dr able to view a surgical procedure from any viewpoint.
  • Health and safety – How about a construction site where the trainees can look around the virtual area without risk to themselves and identify hazards?
  • Police – Explore a room to learn search procedures with interactive elements highlighting areas used to hide contraband. 

Learning & Enterprise College Bexley

Will a 360 Tour work for you?

The decision to include a 360 tour is something you need to decide for your business. Every business is different and will have other goals and processes. However, plenty of evidence supports utilising a 360 tour for your business as an evergreen marketing asset to benefit your brand. Here is a summary of what I’ve covered:

  • Like a website, your venue is viewable 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. 
  • You (or your team) don’t need to be present for visitors.
  • Saves time and travel for your potential clients
  • As a result, tours create more interest and better visibility of your business, giving you a competitive edge.
  • The benefit of SEO and local searches (Google Maps) with visibility and more time spent interacting with your website & social media.
  • A new and innovative marketing strategy
  • Transparency of your business personality and brand identity
  • A research tool to help potential clients with making an informed buying decision 
  • It puts more control into the hands of visitors to your website
  • Get ahead of your competition and stand out in a broader market.
  • Common knowledge is that our brains process imagery faster than other media types. Combined with the intrinsic (interactive and immersive) nature of 360 tours, your potential clients are more likely to remember it.

360 Tour Examples and Client Case Studies.

Are you interested in making your business stand out from your competition with a 360 tour? Get in touch today to learn more.

Click here to book your no-obligation phone consultation with me

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