What is a virtual tour and how do I create one?

Published on 08/06/2020 by Caroline Rousseau and Sonia Navarrete

If you’ve used Street View in Google Maps before, you’ve already taken a virtual tour. The virtual visit and its tools are already several years behind them but are experiencing a significant leap due to the health crisis. 

virtual-tour-software-coronavirus

Despite the climate of uncertainty, however, we continue to want to buy an apartment, run our business, take an interest in art or dream of an upcoming vacation. 

Crisis or no crisis, distance could already be a brake or an obstacle for these same activities.

Billy Haynes, founder at Miru3D comments how companies have adapted to the new situation:

“We have found that, by having virtual tours in place, [our clients] have been able to continue their client engagement and have been able to sell through this time. 
We’ve always understood the power of this technology and how incredibly important it can be to any brand, but the past few months have certainly changed the wider business communities perception of virtual tours from what once was seen as a luxury fad, to a key tool to help their business survive.”

 

How to create a virtual visit without being a technology virtuoso? And what exactly is it? From the shelves of a store to the paths of a garden, there is only one click (which we cheerfully cross). 

The virtual visit, a visual experience with many advantages

A virtual tour software can model a 3D space from a shooting at 360 degrees or more pictures, in order to propose the “visit” from their computer or mobile device. The space thus put online is “navigable” and can be personalised with interactive functionalities.

We can have fun creating a 360 ° video, the principle of which is to evolve in a video.

We can also go further thanks to virtual reality for an immersive experience.

Far from being another technological gadget, the virtual tour is full of advantages and the platforms compete in terms of functionality.

Here are the main advantages of the virtual visit, excluding the specifics of a sector.

For companies :

  • Requires little hardware
  • Low to moderate costs for high profitability
  • Viral potential on social networks
  • Increase in visits and clicks
  • Usable visit statistics
  • Improved SEO
  • Permanent access
  • Image enhancement

For the customers :

  • Access to remote or closed sites
  • The pleasure of the immersive and interactive experience 
  • Free rich content
  • Trust in the brand (transparency)
  • Better decisions

Sectors that benefit from the virtual visit

Many sectors find an interest in creating a virtual visit: shops, workshops, agencies, factories, museums, monuments, natural spaces, all can open their doors and offer a privileged visit at any time.

In this article, we present four specific sectors that can benefit from the virtual tour.

Real estate

A virtual tour, as opposed to photos, takes into account the volumes and the arrangement of space. The integration of text, audio and video comment on points of interest and can be viewed at will, while hotspots (navigation points) show the way. Some software even allows you to comment live, with video overlay of your interlocutor.

All parts involved can find an advantage:

  • The seller of a property no longer needs to store and make himself available many times: the virtual visit is open day and night.
  • The potential buyer no longer needs to organise his calendar and travel at the risk of being disappointed once there.
  • The agents can offer the actual visit with people who are really interested.

In summary, everyone saves time and energy. 

The industrial sector

How to organise a visit of its facilities to its customers without embarking on complex logistics? By giving them access to your virtual tour and by playing the guide from a distance. The virtual visit in an industrial environment also represents a saving of time and a modern way of presenting your workshop or factory. Places requiring strict security measures suddenly become accessible.

It can provide information on the manufacturing of a product, the various trades, or even provide training in the area of ​​health and safety measures for your employees. The virtual visit is permanent support that you can distribute on your stand during a trade fair or meeting.

The hotel industry

As with real estate, being able to visit a potential holiday resort weighs in the decision when planning your vacation.

For seasonal rental professionals, housing is valued and is only more attractive. If we sometimes find ourselves dreaming of inaccessible hotels or paradisiac corners, the virtual visit benefits local accommodation by helping it to make itself known via blogs and social networks.

For the holidaymaker, it is a way of being reassured and of seeing unpleasant surprises reduced to the maximum, otherwise the picture of his well deserved vacation will be darkened.

Tourism and culture

For regions and cities, this is an opportunity to highlight landscapes and heritage, and to enrich these captures with all the information useful to visitors. Places of interest, historical anecdotes, opening times, everything is done to create a complete interactive guide. Craftsmen and traders can also take a picture of their workshop and make themselves more visible.

In terms of culture, visiting museums , past exhibitions, places that no longer exist, or even palaces and castles in Spain … Whether they are temporarily or permanently inaccessible, places of culture are increasingly offering virtual visits, whether 360 ° or static in the form of access to the collections, most often free of charge.

It thus promotes access to knowledge and cultural enrichment. It is not only national museums that can benefit from it: cultural establishments of all sizes can take advantage of it to make themselves known nationally or worldwide, the barriers of working hours and space being removed.

How do I create a virtual tour?

If you are a photographer at heart, you surely have professional or semi-professional equipment. However, today’s smartphones can produce quality photos. It will then simply be necessary to equip yourself with a wide angle lens for smartphone and a rotating base for taking at 360°.

Once uploaded and processed on the chosen platform , it will generally be hosted on the publisher’s cloud. Depending on the features offered by the latter, you can enrich your panoramic visit with media content. 

Finally, all you have to do is integrate the link to your site or share it directly on your social media accounts. Google Maps also allows you to integrate the virtual tour of your establishment into its location on the map.

4 different virtual tour softwares for different needs

We invite you to discover 4 software to create your virtual visit, whether for your real estate agency, your gîte, your gallery or your workshop. You will find the selection methodology at the end of the article.

My360

My360 overview ( source )

  • Overall rating: 4.8 / 5 (46 reviews)
  • Free version and free trial available
  • Price: Annual subscription of £32 per month 

To use My360, you will need a 360° camera (on sale on the publisher’s site). Then simply upload the photos to the platform. 

The side menu allows you to move directly to the desired room and share the visit with your contacts. As with the other software on this list, the tours are customisable with logo, video, and other useful information.

For private property, the software offers to limit the visit to an “extract” and to allow access to the owner’s complete tour by filling in an integrated form: in this way, only the people who are really interested will come forward.

Ideal for: hotel and real estate sectors

Key features:

  • Media integration (logo, videos, audios, text…)
  • Integration of sharing on social networks 
  • Visit reports
  • Live annotations
  • Optimised for virtual reality
  • Unlimited virtual tours

Read more

LiveTour

Presentation of LiveTour ( source )

  • Overall rating: 4.5 / 5 (115 reviews)
  • Free trial available
  • Price: from £4 per month for 3 LiveTours

Once your visit is online, all you have to do is customize it. The interactive hotspots allow you to navigate from one room to another and display the ground plan in real time to locate yourself. The share button integrated into the visit allows you to send it to your contacts. During a live visit, you can add notes on the screen to enrich your point with visual indications.

Ideal for: neophytes, small budgets

Key features:

  • Media integration (logo, videos, audios, text…)
  • Ground plan
  • Hotspots
  • Integration of sharing on social networks 
  • Visit reports
  • Live annotations
  • Optimised for virtual reality

Read more

CloudPano

Presentation of CloudPano ( source )

  • Overall rating: 4.9 / 5 (16 reviews)
  • Free version and free trial available
  • Price: The Pro version costs £8 per tour

CloudPano offers an easy way to build a 360° tour in a few clicks, and the three-step process. As well as offering the free version where users can upload their 360 photos and create their tour, the company also offers two paid-for plans, the Pro (around £8 per tour) and Pro Plus (£27/month). This last plan includes analytics and an unlimited number of tours.

CloudPano offers video tutorials and materials for newbies to help them with their first virtual tour. In addition, there is a live support that users can access to get advice when using the platform.

Ideal for: Hospitality, Real Estate

Key features:

  • Hotspot
  • Virtual reality
  • Panoramas
  • Social media integration

Read more

Concept3D

Concept3D overview ( source )

  • Overall rating: 4.8 / 5 (37 reviews)
  • Free version and free trial available
  • Price: on request

With Concept3D, 3 modelling styles are available to you: the virtual visit, the interactive map and the 3D output. The platform focuses on, but not limited to, industrial complexes, university campuses, institutions such as hospitals.

The objective of the maps and returns is to obtain a clear vision of installations which sometimes prove to be labyrinthine and to enrich them with all the information necessary for visitors. The “wayfinding” functionality is used to plan a journey while real-time data can, for example, provide information on the state of stocks in a warehouse.

Ideal for: industrial sector, complex installations

Key features:

  • Interactive virtual tours
  • Interactive maps
  • 3D yields
  • Space layout
  • Media integration (logo, videos, audios, text…)
  • Real-time data integration

Read more

Billy concludes by stating a change in mentality that will last long term following the pandemic:

“Looking at the longer-term effects of COVID-19, consumer habits will most certainly change. We already understood that younger generations have very different habits to older generations, they require/expect things instantly and virtual tours provide that.
This is going to have a longer effect on the mentality of consumers who will question twice their decision to visit stores and showrooms compared to before and this is where having an online presence will be essential.”
Want to know more? Consult our catalogue of virtual tour software to discover more products.

Methodology

The products presented in this article were selected according to the following criteria:

  • Higher search volume in the UK
  • Software offering the 360 ​° visit
  • A minimum overall score of 4 out of 5 on Capterra UK
  • Higher number of reviews in the UK
  • Offering a free version or a free trial

 

 

This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.