School Virtual Tour Marketing.
The future of school marketing is in virtual tours. So much has changed in the realm of childhood education and educational institutions. There are three major dynamics we will discuss today in relation to the marketing of education centers and institutions. First, a shift in population. Second, a change in public health perceptions. And third, evolving attitudes on technology. We will discuss in length these new technologies, virtual tours. We’ll discuss school marketing and virtual tours. We’ll review how virtual tours can be made and implemented safely. Furthermore, we’ll review completed examples. And finally we’ll conclude on lessons learned.
Virtual tours are a combination of still image and video, linked together in such a way with special software, like cloudpano, that allows the viewer to explore a figurative digital twin of the space- that was captured. Virtual tours have been used since the 70’s, the first being made for Dudley Castle for a Royal tour. A virtual rendering was displayed over a picture of the current site. This is the first recorded example of a virtual tour- with roots in education.
An Intro On School Virtual Tours.
Virtual tours can certainly be safely made. By taking common sense precautions, we can make sure we are both showing off the best of the institution. We can also make sure we create a highly curated experience. This makes it impossible for people to “wander around” digitally, in places we wouldn’t otherwise allow them. (Spoiler: we just don’t take the camera in there).
Virtual tours can be displayed on most smart devices. But they can be entered into by more than just links. QR codes can be placed on anything from business cards to flyers. This is a premiere way to show off the virtual tour on physical media. Another great way is in an email signature. A virtual tour is the best way to show off school pride.
What Is A Virtual Tour?
A virtual tour allows a school to keep its doors open to possible students. Parents can come and visit digitally, anytime they want. Meanwhile, the school gets to put its best foot forward. A school virtual tour does this by capturing dozens of 360 spherical or 3D images, depending on the type of tour. Those scenes are then connected in a rendering software, allowing a person to “move” from one space to another.
There are a few important considerations here when discussing this step. First, it is important to note that the day the school is captured, is a day the school is able to put its best foot forward. This can consist of several steps. It can be best to do this during a staff day, or other day students will not be present. Like any photoshoot, people in the way look messy! Ensure all areas are free of clutter, trash is taken out, and any broken or missing lights or other fixtures have been mended. It is possible to replace things digitally, so things do not need to be perfect.
It can take a photographer as little as 10 minutes per room, but larger areas like a gym or cafeteria can take an hour or more. It’s best to discuss with your photographer to make sure you have an accurate idea of how long it will take to capture your space.
Do We Even Need A Tour?
Yes, you do. Tours can be shot for under $7,500- and will last for years and years. One less child in a classroom can cost tens of thousands per year. A better question might be- can you afford to not have one? Tours can be a digital source of pride and reputation. Like with sourcing any asset for your institution, it’s important to ask yourself hard questions. Do you believe, without a doubt, you can count on being able to maximize capacity? Have you done anything at all to take the school into the virtual world?
School virtual tours not just sell the parents on the school, but the kids too. Not only can you show off your STEM and other classrooms, but outdoor and extracurricular activities. You can even incorporate other assets, like video (both 2D and 360) and still images. As well as links and music. School tours can help kids become familiar with the space, and help ease worries and other first day concerns.
Put shortly, other education institutions either have a virtual tour, or are getting one. Soon, having a school virtual tour will be as obvious as having a mascot or a school logo. Considering how cost effective and applicable these tours are.
Are school virtual tours safe?
Ultimately, this question belongs with your local public safety and administrative officials. We have developed methods and practices that we believe allow us to help provide highly contextualized and curated digital tours. The objective being to show as much as the actual interior classroom, and less of the actual school. And we’re going to spell out our reasoning behind these methods and practices.
The tour is broken down, behind the scenes, into three distinct parts. All of these parts are already highly visible aspects of the school. We’ll explain as we go. The three layers of the school tour are the exterior, the core interior, and the classroom interior. We avoid as best as possible, capturing hallways or any similar space used to direct or otherwise transport students or faculty and staff. But let’s dive into that a little more.
The exterior panos are light, there are typically only a few. One at the entrance, one a few feet outside the front door, and a few aerial panoramas showing off the grounds and parking. The core interior are spaces like the main office, cafeteria, gym- and other communal gathering spaces. The classroom interior is self explanatory. These are important layers. Each has its own capturing methods and considerations when engaging in the capture.
Photographers themselves can be vetted just like any other potential visitor to the education institution. This can even be done in advance, and any existing procedure for the school can be followed by a reputable virtual tour provider. Ultimately, the control and distribution of the tour is in the hands of the school administration, and can be activated and deactivated at any time.
Safety Features Built In.
We know a lot about the history and motivations of malicious actors. And, further still, how those motivations can manifest in different actions. The goal is to allow a student and their family to view and explore the school or institution in a natural and smooth manner, while eliminating the context of positioning in the school. Summarized, we don’t want people memorizing what hallways lead where. While this is a sad and unfortunate consideration to need to make, it is an appropriate one.
But further still from that? Isn’t it a bad idea to have such an interactive asset available for the school interior online? Luckily the impact and distribution can be moderated and contextualized. In the most restrictive sense, the virtual tour could be a school-only asset. Only being displayed to potential families via a zoom call or similar. Tours can even be put behind passwords.
Ultimately, kids do have cell phones these days, and there are images available and videos available, taken by them, showing their daily lives that reveal massive parts of the school. From simply walking class to class to playing around during active shooter drills. This is simply a comprehensive way to show off the school digitally that the administration has complete control over.
Utilizing Virtual Tours.
Once the tour has been shot and produced, you can take the embed code and have it woven directly into the website. This is very easy to do if you manage your own web presence and website. Or, you can just forward it off to your IT people. Virtual tours can also be displayed via QR codes. The codes themselves can be made for free online. You can then put them on anything from business cards to flyers, and they are then accessible even further still. Just use a cellphone camera and you are good to go.
School virtual tours are also fantastic backgrounds for various meetings on zoom or other video conferences. You can show families around, live on a video call. This can be a fantastic force multiplier, and allows your school to help break free of its regional limitations and broadcast itself around the web. This will help broaden recognition and help fill seats.
Other School Virtual Tour Applications.
Schools can reserve the rights to the raw assets of the virtual tours. These assets can be utilized in school programs, and turned into teaching materials for IT, graphics design, and marketing curriculums. This even further still imbeds school pride and educational possibilities in cutting edge formats, preparing your students for fun and rewarding careers.
Tracking via school virtual tours is the best way to see who is checking out your school. With embedding google analytics into the tour, you will be able to pull demographic data otherwise not available, allowing you to laser focus your efforts in areas that will result in filled seats, maximizing advertising dollars. You can then translate the insights gained from this tracking, and utilize it to the advantage of the school. This is what cements virtual tours as truly comprehensive marketing and tracking assets. Being visible on nearly any smart device, you won’t miss out on a single second of attention and appreciation.
Delete Preconceptions On Marketing Schools.
The world is going virtual, this much is clear. In a post pandemic society, the ability to see, do, and be hybrid is more important than ever. It is, frankly, very difficult for these older, slower moving institutions to establish themselves virtually in this ever changing world. Virtual tours are a quick, safe, and effective way to show off your space online. While it can seem intimidating, if not counter intuitive, to put these precious spaces online. However, if done correctly and with planning, it can be executed fantastically. School virtual tours are the future of school marketing.
So while more and more virtual schools pop up, consider this. It is important to keep going and keep maintaining the level of presence and forward thinking needed to keep your school’s door open, virtually or in person, for years to come. You can leverage tracking abilities, and showing off the tour live. Contact your local virtual tour provider, and start the conversation on how you can get your institution set up for the virtual world of tomorrow, today.