As our newsfeeds and lives become filled with an ever increasing number of advertising campaigns all striving to compete for our limited attention, virtual tours create a memorable and engaging experience that allows you to stand out from your competitors while also increasing consumer confidence by giving potential visitors the ability to tour your site before visiting. (1) Having a virtual tour also resonates well with consumers who feel the use of virtual reality makes a company seem forward thinking/modern, with 53% of adults saying they would choose a brand that uses VR over one that doesn’t. (2)
Overall people enjoy virtual tours as they are a compelling and immersive format that can allow themselves to really feel like they are visiting the location. Not only that, people want to see more of them, so instead of trying to promote yourself with an easily forgettable traditional photo or video campaign, why not be innovative and use a virtual tour?
As one of the most popular annual US music festivals with a large base of younger attendants, Coachella saw an opportunity to build hype for their 2016 event using by using virtual reality. Prior to the event Coachella sent attendees a custom branded Google Cardboard headset along with their tickets. Not only did Coachella offer a Virtual Tour of the festival grounds, it also included 360 photos from previous years and videos of interviews with performers they would be seeing at the upcoming event. Additionally, they live streamed the event itself with a 360 Live Stream, demonstrating that they are an organisation that is dedicated to effectively utilising emerging technology to improve their event experience.
Cruiseabout is an Australian travel agency that (not so surprisingly) focuses on cruises and as such are a great candidate for virtual reality, as studies show 48% of people are interested in using VR to preview a resort or cruise. (3) As they keep up to date with the various cruise lines promotional material they noticed many of them had released 360 virtual tours and decided to capitalise on it, a solid move considering 19% of Australian consumers have used VR to book a holiday destination and 30% of consumers plan to use VR in the future to assist with choosing a holiday destination (4). On their website they have compiled virtual tours of cruise ships from P&O, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises & Carnival. While this alone would help drive sales, Cruiseabout took it a step further by purchasing Samsung Gear headsets for various stores across Australia and inviting customers in to try the tour themselves with a VR headset.
In the town of Galveston, Texas the Bryan Museum hosts a large collection of historical artifacts, documents and artwork relating to Texas and the American West. Unfortunately, many schools were unable to get resources or funding to attend this site due to the large size of Texas, so the Bryan Museum decided to create a virtual tour to showcase the best parts of its collection. A VR app was built that offered a 360 video tour that follows three young students along with a tour guide who explains the history behind objects of interest. Text overlays and detailed 3D models were programmed to float to the foreground when looking at objects, adding extra relevant information and engaging viewers. Additionally, an ‘off rails’ version was constructed to allow people to experience the museum at their own pace. The Bryan Museum then went on to distribute this virtual tour to schools across Texas. This project is a great example of how VR can be used to overcome physical limitations and engage a wider audience virtually. Here’s what they had to say:
“The best part about visiting a museum is being able to see historical artifacts up close and personal – to notice all of the brushstrokes and colors that can’t be brought to life in a textbook. For The Bryan Museum, one of our main priorities was to recreate that experience in VR. With this focus, our team was able to create incredibly accurate 3D models of the artifacts and give users a 360 look at the details and textures of each piece.”
Chris Furgason – Bryan Museum Director of Production