What You Should Look for in a Virtual Tour Company
Virtual reality is the latest tech trend to shake up the business world. If you're hesitant about shooting a virtual tour for your business, it's time to get on board.
According to data from Google, business listings that include a virtual tour and photos generate twice as much interest as their less-savvy counterparts.
That means including a virtual tour for your business can drum up double the interest among your potential customers.
Here's how to choose the best virtual tour company for your business.
The Basics of a Virtual Tour
What is a virtual tour, anyway? It's your chance to let the customer step inside your business from the comfort of their own home.
Using skilled photographers, you can capture a full, 3D view of the interior of your store. When your customers check out your Google Street View listing, they have the option of touring the interior of your business, too.
That extra look inside your company might just provide customers with the extra little push they need to stop in and shop.
Why You Need to Work with a Virtual Tour Company
In 2014, Google partnered with Ipsos to gather data on how consumers use search engines to decide to shop at local businesses. They discovered some key insights when it comes to how customers use map services online.
According to their findings, 66% of consumers selected businesses based on how convenient they were to their current location. Moreover, 44% searched out a map of a store before deciding to shop there.
The study also found that people were more interested in the address of a store than its phone number, and two out of three consumers looked up business information on map sites or apps. From there, 41% said a map search prompted them to visit a store in person.
Your consumers are likely searching for a map of your business anyway. If you can include a virtual tour and let them step inside your establishment, you might encourage them to visit in person.
That's why when your prospective customers Google your business name, a listing with a virtual tour can offer you a big boost.
Virtual tours also generate a better relationship with your consumers and can actually improve your SEO.
Ready to get started? Then it's time to choose the best virtual tour company for your business.
What the Best Virtual Tour Companies Have in Common
They Employ Google Trusted Photographers
The first thing you always need to look for in a virtual tour company is whether they use photographers who have earned a “trusted” badge from Google.
Google maintains a list of the photographers it trusts to capture a complete, high-quality panoramic image of your business. They also assign ratings to each photographer based on the number of approved 360-degree tours they've uploaded to Google Street View.
They must also follow strict brand guidelines from Google itself and meet other specific qualifications.
Check out this blog for more information on how to hire a Google trusted photographer.
They Have a Portfolio of Impressive Results
Since each virtual tour company is working in the online space, they should have a complete portfolio of their work available on their website. Look through the examples of their work to see if you like their style.
A successful virtual tour is immersive, responsive, and complete. Check through their portfolio for any examples of dead space or distortion. If you see these, steer clear. They can ruin the experience for your customers.
Look for a company that has achieved success with a variety of business types and buildings, too.
It's easy to get a great result when you're photographing a five-star hotel and resort. It's much harder to take a smaller, more down-to-earth site and make it look inviting.
They're Willing to Work with Your Schedule
The process of taking a quality 3D Virtual Tour can, as you might expect, take some time. Many business owners find they can't afford to shut down during their peak hours to allow the photographer to set up and shoot.
Look for a company with a flexible schedule that is willing to work around yours. Be sure to ask them before the day of the shoot if they need any special considerations before they arrive.
Always ask for a firm time estimate—including the time it takes to set up and break down equipment—so you know what to expect from the process.
Once you have a firm date set in the calendar, it's up to you make sure your business is clean, organized, and presentable before the photographer arrives.
They Give You the Rights to Your 360 Video When It's Done
Once your virtual tour video is finished, it can become a valuable marketing asset for your business. That is, of course, if you own the rights to it once it's done.
Ask any prospective companies who will own the finished tour video. Make sure the copyright rules are clearly spelled out in any contract before you sign.
Then, develop a savvy social media plan to share your video across all of your channels. Let your followers and blog readers from around the world step inside your business, too.
They're Fully Insured
This is probably the most mundane part of choosing a well-qualified virtual tour company, but it could end up being the most important.
When your photographer shows up on-site, they'll be toting heavy equipment and bulky extension cords. If the worst happens and they trip and fall on your property, you could be held liable for their injuries.
Make sure any company you hire is fully insured with enough coverage to take care of their photographer in case of an accident.