One of the biggest impacts of COVID-19 has been the adoption of virtual experiences that sit right alongside (and in many cases, replace) in-person events. Businesses have quickly adapted to digital technology that encourages these opportunities: most employees now know Zoom or Microsoft Teams like the back of their hand, and working from home is no longer novel — it’s the norm.
In addition to the amazing work many of our schools have done embracing online learning, we've also noticed that virtual campus tours are growing in popularity. Not only do they provide a safer alternative to in-person tours, but they also can assist recruitment efforts both domestically and abroad.
Finally, there can be search engine optimisation (SEO) benefits to implementing a virtual tour on your Google Maps and Google My Business listing. This is because, according to Google, listings with photos and a virtual tour are twice as likely to generate interest.
In this post, we’re going to look at some of the best-performing virtual school tour platforms, and how to choose the right option for your school.
How to compare virtual school platforms
There are a wide number of businesses that offer virtual tour services to schools and other businesses within the education industry. If you’re looking to determine which platform to use, you’ll want to first set clear goals for your tour.
We’ve mentioned some of the benefits above — they’re a COVID-safe alternative for admissions, they can support your international recruitment efforts, and they can be a boon for your SEO — but you might have other goals in mind when creating a virtual tour. Once you’ve set your goals, you’ll want to assess each platform against the following criteria.
1. The final product
Each tour platform has a unique look and feel. To compare the final product, check out each business’s portfolio to see if you like their style. You’ll want to ensure that their tours:
- Offer an immersive experience.
- Are responsive across different devices, particularly mobile.
- Don’t distort or create dead space as you navigate through different areas.
2. Their availability
Creating a virtual tour is a time-consuming process. Unfortunately, it takes more than an afternoon to complete an immersive and engaging tour through your school. This means you’ll need to ascertain each platform’s availability before you commit to a shoot — you don’t want to be waiting months to receive your completed tour!
3. Where the tour can be embedded
Depending on your tour goals, you’ll want to be sure that the product you receive can be embedded in all of the places that you need it to be. This will definitely include your website but may also include your social media pages and your Google Maps and Business listings.
YouTour allows prospective families to fly through your school grounds from the comfort of their homes. Schools can select which locations on campus best support your school's unique selling points (USP) and capture them as 'YouTour points.'
The team at YouTour then capture a high quality 360° image at each location, showcasing your facilities, staff, and students. Additional resources like photos and images can be added to each location to provide extra context.
To see an example of YouTour in action, check out their latest work with Camberwell Grammar School.
YouTour: Camberwell Grammar School
YouTour is optimised for desktop and mobile devices and can be embedded on your school's website or Facebook page to boost promotional opportunities for your school.
If you want to provide prospective families with an in-depth view of your school's layout, floor plans and facilities, take a look at these virtual tour options from 360Victoria. The team provide an all-in-one reality capture that can be viewed on mobile, desktop or tablet, and be embedded on your school's website for even greater visibility.
This platform allows prospective families to explore each room thanks to crisp, high-quality images that make them feel as though they're actually standing in the room. Take a look at 360Victoria's latest work with NewHope Preschool. You’ll notice the annotated hotspots that help to move around the room.
360Victoria: NewHope Preschool
The team at TFE Solutions specialise in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) solutions for Education and Government – pretty cool, right? They also create VR school tours to show off campuses with the help of drones and 3D floor maps. These VR tours also include a time-lapse panorama, voiceovers and annotated hotspots, and a Google Street View publication.
TFE Solutions: James Cook University
Getting your virtual school tour started
It’s essential that your school embraces these new technologies to help prospective families engage with your school grounds and facilities from the comfort of their own homes.