Meet the Virtual Tour: The Best New Tool for Social Marketing
By Ashley Nunez Marketing Associate, Interactive Web Tours | February 15, 2015
A picture is worth a thousand words. We have all heard the adage, but did you ever stop and think about what it means? It is easy to look at your old personal photographs and recollect the memories and stories that come with them but a photograph of a room can only say so much about what is going on, especially if it is for advertising. To showcase a hotel room and try to sell it out each night of the year to potential guests is a difficult task. The lighting must be just so to display it at its peak, but in the end all you are showing is one perspective no matter how many photos. The real feel of the room is missing and while positive reviews on advertising sites can help take the guesswork out of booking a room, it cannot replace truly being there. Well, what if I told you that there is a way to create the next best thing to actually standing in a room and it will help to drive in business?
While it may seem like a gimmick, I can assure you that there is such a method. Virtual tour photography may conjure up images in your mind of awkwardly warped photographs, video tours, or even simple slide shows of images. That may have been true once, but with the advancement of technology we also have an advanced form of virtual tour photography. There are few businesses in the United States which have moved this artistic medium up to a professional quality standard that can fit a variety of businesses needs and is user-friendly. While I cannot speak to all of the peculiarities and perks of all businesses, in order to dispel the images of unresponsive virtual tours of days past I will explain the type of tour offered by Robert Nunez of Interactive Web Tours and how it has benefit its users. Think of a virtual tour as a new form of social media that can be accessed no matter the platform and will be your best new advertising tool.
Here's how it works: a virtual tour is a series of images of a room or space taken in sequence and then spliced together using the most up-to-date technology to create a 360 degree view of that space. The software Robert Nunez uses allows the user to virtually look up, down, left, right, forward, backward, and any way they wish from a centralized location. They can also zoom in and out providing more detail and depth to the experience. It is almost as if you are standing in the room. "The best thing about the tour is that it is user-run, meaning that anyone who views the tour can look at their own pace through interactive controls," Robert explained as we looked through some tours on his website.
Some features included in an Interactive Web Tour are Google mapping, interactive site maps, links to your website, email address, Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts, and a room reservation button. A virtual tour can also be customized to have more features or less depending on your needs. These features simultaneously enhance the user experience while making it easier for you to advertise direct to a potential guest the features you want to highlight or are most proud of.
You can also include a voice-over narration of what the viewer is witnessing or perhaps some interesting information about the hotel or space they are seeing. This makes it easier to connect with potential guests as you can verbally and virtually walk them through your property and rooms over the phone. It is also easy to share using social media to create more conversation when highlighting an open room that night or enabling guests to share with friends the room they just stayed in. Virtual tours give potential, past, and returning customers the ability to see your location and interact with it anywhere at any time. When discussing the features of the virtual tour, Robert's emphasis lay on its interactive nature. Robert described the virtual tour as "a 24/7 online open house where your property is always on display and guests are always welcome to come in and explore."
With the internet controlling the way we search for anything today, the best way to advertise is through a strong presence online. A strong website is definitely the most reliable self-promotion option available and not only will a virtual tour enhance your website, but it will be the best marketing tool at your disposal. Advertising on secondary websites like the local Chamber of Commerce, hotel directory sites, travel sites, and social media platforms such as Facebook help your location stand out above all others. A virtual tour can easily be added onto those platforms through embedding the tour or with a simple link addition so potential guests can see your property in a way they cannot see your competition's accommodations. This is also a great addition to email campaigns through Constant Contact where it is easy for information to get lost and photos only have a split second to captivate the viewer. A virtual tour will increase traffic to your website and physical location by helping you stand out in a flooded market of hotels and accommodation chains.
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