Over the last few years, virtual tours have become a key part of several industries – real estate, education, and even the arts – but until recently, it had limited applications in commerce. With improved video production technology, however, more companies are introducing video to increase customer engagement. In particular, by providing a virtual or video tour experience, companies can create a meaningful sense of connection, greatly improving their odds of closing a sale or driving an in-person visit.
The first important decision every company needs to make when creating a tour video is choosing a format. For example, older videos are largely site walk-throughs or photomontages, but today many businesses are making the leap to 360 video or VR. So what’s the difference?
When compared to traditional video, 360 access can feel overwhelming at first. According to Advrtas, though, 90% of Americans think 360 video is better than the standard format and can provide greater insights about a location. And ideally, that’s true. These videos are an opportunity for immersive and realistic storytelling, but they also take 6-10 cameras running simultaneously to produce this style of video.
VR, on the other hand, requires added technology on the consumer side, which right now is a big disadvantage. As of mid-2017, for example, only 5% of Americans owned VR technology. While that number will likely increase by a small amount this year, it won’t be enough to make it worthwhile for companies to invest in VR tours and marketing just yet.
Of course, during all this, we can’t discount traditional video. Done well, traditional video can provide a powerful introduction to a business or cultural site. It’s what most companies still rely on and while it may not be 360 video, there are some high-tech tricks that can make traditional video stand out.
Stihl: The Traditional Tour
Though on the surface they may seem obscure, factory tours have a long history. Whether watching the beer go from hops to bottles at Anchor Brewing in San Francisco or learning about perfume distillation at Fragonard in France, people flock to manufacturing meccas.
Following in this traditional vein, machine and tool manufacturer Stihl produced this classic factory tour. The video, which is spliced together and heavily edited, goes beyond the walk-through to reveal professional insights and practices. It may not be the most modern videography technique, but it certainly serves its purpose as a recruitment tool.
Sutherland Nissan: Driven by Drones
Cars are one of the few things people buy primarily in person these days, so dealerships remain uniquely important. But what sets one car dealership apart from the competition? Sutherland Nissan shows its modern side with this drone tour of the grounds. Unlike either traditional video or 360, the drone perspective focuses on scope and gives potential buyers a feeling of expansiveness, of the countless choices they want to have when buying a car.
Sutherland Nissan pairs their drone video with embedded access to Google Maps, for those who want a more grounded approach, but the drone tour is certainly more influential. Most importantly, it’s unique – you don’t get a bird’s eye view like that very often – and that’s what makes it such a powerful marketing tool.
The Met: Museums Go 360
Museums were forerunners in the development of virtual tours, so it’s no surprise that they continue to push the field forward. A quick visit to YouTube allows users to tour the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 360, for example, while many others have already made the leap to VR. The Met breaks up their tour into bite size pieces that are perfect for the 360 approach; a few minutes in the Temple of Dendur, another in the Arms and Armories Gallery. Though these clips are just a taste of the museum, they’re beautifully produced to make every viewer want to visit.
Video tours are designed to be an introduction, to provide just enough insight into a location or service to draw viewers in and make them want to visit the real thing. For businesses considering a new form of outreach, don’t waste time quibbling over format and channel what feels right. Your customers want to see what you have to offer and video of any sort will allow you to give them a glimpse inside your world.