Virtual tours are the latest trend. They’re used by colleges and universities to entice students as well as by corporates to woo customers. Think about it – wouldn’t you rather walk into a store knowing what to expect rather than going in blind… Virtual tours digitize the experience of walking around an establishment. They are especially relevant in today’s age when travelling is still quite restricted. Anyone can create a virtual tour. All you need is a script, good photographs and a well shot video. But, this does not mean that all virtual tours are well received. For your tour to be a hit, you need to ensure that it is made with high quality imagery. For this, it’s always better to work with a virtual tour company.
These companies are focussed only on making virtual tours and have a team with specialized skill sets for the same. So, what should you look for in these companies? Here are a few must haves.
Professional photography team
Ultimately, what your customers are seeing is a video and a series of images. You may have the best products and your store may be designed for a great experience but if the images presented to customers are blurred and out of focus, this does not translate well. When you choose to outsource the making of a virtual tour, the first thing to check is the work of the team’s photographers and videographers. Their images should be well composed, focussed on well lit. It is very important for their graphic aesthetics to match yours. Else, you’ll be setting yourself up for a lot of back and forth.
The best way to assess graphic work is by looking through the company’s portfolio. Go through tours they’ve created for other brands and see what features have been incorporated in. Are the tours mostly composed on still images or do they have videos’ and 360-degree views? Are the videographers able to zoom in and out of details the way you would like?
You may have more than one store in different locations. Now, you don’t want to showcase only a single store. You will need a comprehensive virtual tour for all your outlets or individual virtual tours for each outlet. This means the company should have a team on site at each of your locations. Else, they should be willing to travel there when required.
Shooting a virtual tour takes a bit of time. So, the virtual tour company should also be willing to work around your schedule. Store owners cannot afford to shut down the store to paying customers during peak hours to shoot a video. Thus, flexibility is important.
A structured system
The difference between working with amateurs and professionals is that the latter have used their experience to structure a system. It would be quite frustrating to start a shoot and then find out that a light is missing or that the team hasn’t acquired appropriate permissions from the authorities.
From the very onset, they should give you a structure and timelines. You should know how long the entire process will take as well as how long they need on site to shoot the videos. This must include set up time – i.e. the time taken to set up cameras, lighting, test shots, etc. and the time taken to out away all the equipment.
Video equipment is expensive and heavy. There’s always a risk that someone may trip over a wire and damage the equipment. If so, this damage should not be passed on to you. To protect yourself from such incidental expenses, make sure you’re working with a company that is fully insured. The insurance must cover not just the risk of damage to equipment but also injuries to anyone on the team.
End to end solution
You don’t want to running between multiple vendors to get your tour made. Thus, the virtual tour company you decide to work with should be able to handle all the steps involved. Their virtual tours services should include shooting the video and editing it as well as adding voiceovers, compressing the video to make it easy to view on mobile devices, linking it to call to action tabs, etc. Also, look into the feasibility to making the tour SEO friendly.
Today, finding a virtual tour company is quite easy. A simple online search will put up a long list. But, before you go online, it’s always better to ask around for personal references. Ask acquaintances, friends and family for introductions and references. Browse through the videos and tours, the business has created for these clients and shortlist companies that are relevant to you. Budgets and price points are important but don’t make these the deciding the factors in your selection process. So, are you ready to get started?