School Virtual Tour Marketing

May 1, 2022 in Blog, Cloudpano, Virtual Tours

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).

Cloudpano Is The Best Virtual Tour Software

Cloudpano Is The Best Virtual Tour Software

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.

 

New Ways Of Teaching

The Pandemic Changed Virtual learning For Good

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.

New Methods Of Teaching

New Methods Of Teaching

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.

Bring The Beauty of your School Online

Bring The Beauty of your School Online

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.

Land Schools With Cloudpano

May 1, 2022 in Blog, Cloudpano, Software, Virtual Tours

Land Schools With Cloudpano

Cloudpano is the best virtual tour platform for schools. Cloudpano is the perfect tool for passive income. A lot of people have an aversion to this idea. Which is understandable- it’s too good to be true. At least on paper. However, with hardwork and dedication, passive income can be a reality for anyone. It’s important to bring up at the very start- it’ll frame and contextualize everything else discussed from here on out- and we’ll conclude on how to end your tour with a recurring invoice. It’s also worth mentioning that I have nothing to sell you. I am a Cloudpano Pro Plus Member. I use these tactics myself and it’s worked phenomenally for me. We’re going to be talking about a very niche vertical- school.

 

Explore New Virtual Tour Possibilities

Explore New Virtual Tour Possibilities

There are 130,000 schools in the United States. We’re coming out of a pandemic. All of them are going to want tours eventually. Also, this isn’t the only vertical. You can scale this very same kind of thinking into different verticals. Which ultimately, is the next magnitude to step up to, in order to grow as a virtual tour agency. But for now, let’s focus on schools, and make you the authority on school virtual tours with cloudpano in your area.

First Step: Figure Out What You Know About Cloudpano

We’re going to assume you know what Cloudpano is. To recap, it’s the most versatile virtual tour platform available today. In fact Cloudpano has several features that are vital to the value proposition, so be mindful of how this may or may not transfer to other software.

Take some time to read up and ensure you really understand cloudpano. Ask questions, make tours, toy around with examples. Push yourself to understand and develop your style of shooting and try to make a consistent style that you can market. Establish post production workflows and other channels, so you can rely on output and consistency for marketing. Obviously each school will look different, but you don’t want to reinvent the wheel with every school.

Second Step: Figure Out What You Can Repeat

The most impressive panoramic images you’ll take are bracket images on a full frame camera with a special tripod head. But that is a rigorous workflow, and one that is hard to scale. Can you make school virtual tours with cloudpano this way? Sure. But it’s not practical for what the ultimate application is. It is possible to take immense, well placed pride in a tour and use a dual lens 360 camera like the Z1, without a doubt the best possible choice.

Using a Z1 or similar is the best choice for several reasons. First, speed. Schools don’t have several days to keep the hallways clear. Administrators more often than not want to do them on a holiday or weekend- time they would rather not be at work. Speed isn’t something the customer knows they want regarding this offering.

360 Cameras also have the added benefit of being very simple to operate, and have a simple workflow. There is no reason to conflate a long and confusing post production process with a quality virtual tour. It is possible to get phenomenal and engaging results from a 360 camera. Ricoh Theta even makes some cameras as low as a few hundred dollars.

Third Step: Fill Out Cloudpano Offering

Adding drone panoramas to a project is a really quick way to add serious value to a virtual tour. You can add several hundred dollars for a single drone panoramic that will take about 5 minutes to procure. Obviously it’s critical that you fly with Part 107 licenses and TRUST certificate, as well as any other appropriate approvals and insurances. We are building a professional brand here. It’s up to the industry to make sure we are going off on the importance of using licensed and insured pilots, with permission.

Cloudpano Is The Best Virtual Tour Software

Cloudpano Is The Best Virtual Tour Software

Now, not everyone is going to have a drone, or further still their Part 107. This is an important time to reach out to some local drone pilots and see who you can partner with. This is a fantastic addition to any school virtual tour.

 

Being able to show off the ground from the sky will contextualize and help frame a tour. It will also drive the “wow” factor, something that will not only help sell a tour but help make it an effective asset for the client in attracting and retaining students and faculty.

Fourth Step: Get Cozy With Google

One massive component of selling to schools is utilizing the built in tracking extensions that Cloudpano put in for us. We can use Google Analytics to track who visits the tour. It is hard for me to undersell this aspect, and it CANNOT be skipped. The reason why is that the biggest value of these school virtual tours is upselling hosting- which we’ll get into in a bit. A chunk of what justifies that cost is the monthly reports from Google Analytics.

You can check out other blogs and videos regarding GA, and how to use it in other areas of your business. But for now, if this isn’t something you are very comfortable with- congratulations, you found your next things to start reading up on, when you are done with this blog. Push yourself and become an expert at Google Analytics. You on a beach in Mexico sipping fruity drinks will thank you for it.

This is a good point to also mention becoming a Google Trusted Photographer. Not only does it give you instant credibility- but it’ll help strengthen your skills and comfort level with Google overall.

Step Five: Start Calling

Ok, so in all honesty, this part is the hardest. Selling isn’t easy, and most things that actually and honestly sell themselves are illegal and/or highly regulated. So we’re going to need to put in some uncomfortable hours here. And honestly, that’s the hard, very much true part no one wants to hear about building passive income. It takes a lot of setup. You will spend a hundred hours making calls before you get $1,000/month inbound in hosting. A rough estimate but a qualifier of expectations. It’s possible, but you have to work for it.

 

Explore New Virtual Tour Possibilities

Top view of woman walking in the street surfing 360 degree view in her mobile. All screen graphics are made up.

Schools are fortunately easy to sell too. They aren’t business people. Setting up a meeting or a virtual demo is relatively easy. But how do you go from cold call to kick off call? We’re going to quickly go over some reasons schools would want virtual tours. We’re going to break them up into public and private schools, or free and paid schooling.

Public Schools

The authorities in the public school that would want a virtual tour might not be the principal. And public schools don’t traditionally have marketing departments. So how to break in? Don’t call the schools directly, call into administration buildings. Try to find out how to get on approved vendor lists. This is a step most school districts will need you to be on, and most people can be cleared to be on the list. So starting any approach being available will help tremendously. This is important for school safety and fair sourcing practices.

School Virtual Tours Are The Future

School Virtual Tours Are The Future

Public school administrators might want virtual tours to show off the condition of schools, in order to secure more funding. Often, school districts will be mandated by the state to show how they are educating kids and what steps they have done with funds previously awarded before they are granted new taxpayer funds. Considering how comprehensive a cloudpano virtual tour is, a virtual tour could be the silver bullet in some situations.

On the other side, teacher unions and other interested parties might be looking to document school conditions. There are several different entities and reasons someone at a public school would want a virtual tour. The important thing is to open up conversations, and try to find out ways you can help. You will pick up on different aspects and realities of the schools and school districts around you, and eventually you will truly be a leader on virtual tours in your region.

Private School

Almost everything that would apply to the private school would apply to the public school. However, private schools are easier to actually sell too. These people often have some kind of business background, be it educational or real world. Private schools can charge tens of thousands of dollars for a single year. The national average comes in at just over $16,000/year per child. So the math is fairly easy. Missing ten kids shy of capacity? That’s $160,000 less a year you are collecting. They still have to hire and pay the teachers, keep the lights on, and more. So there is a little extra edge when selling to private schools.

Cloudpano Hosting

There really isn’t too much to be said here, so I’ll try to keep it simple. I assume that, when one pays for cloudpano, that cost can basically be broken down into two parts. One is access to the dashboard/editor. The other is that the tours are being actively hosted on the internet on Cloudpano servers. You are being charged for that storage. You are allowed to pass that cost off to the customer. You are allowed to make a profit on that transaction. It’s just that simple.

For some schools, hearing that they can have a 24/7 open house online, ready to fill that admissions gap for only $30/month? Not an issue. And this is the ideal position. The ideal position is to have the hosting on the tours be written into the annual marketing budget of a school. Now for the public school it might not be called a marketing budget, but you can adjust your terminology however you want. One will want to be included on an ongoing basis, as an ongoing fixed cost. You can bill quarterly or yearly, most will prefer yearly. Offer yearly discounts.

This is where the tracking we mentioned earlier comes in. You can embed the tracking information into the tour, and sell/include the reports in the hosting fee. This then gives the school tremendous insight into who is suing the tour. This gives them demographic information they can use to maximize their ad spend in other areas. Or to better understand the community around them.

Adding monthly/quarterly hosting reports combined with keeping the tour ad free and open 24/7- usually sells the value proposition of hosting in full. Boom, you’re in the annual budget. Every tour will count. Eventually you’ll be in a position where you are repairing handsome monthly fees. Depending on the scope and scale- and how much effort you put in, this recurring passive income can be a sizable amount.

Objections To Hosting

It’s important to introduce hosting properly. I like to start with “regarding ongoing hosting, keeping the tour live and ad free, customer service, and all other incidentals, we assess a $10 monthly or $100 annual hosting fee”. You can write it into a quote with similar language. Make sure to include the option of turning tours on and off, or making them seasonal. You will experience pushback to hosting, try to drop costs. Even $1/month. People can remain firm- but this brings possibilities to exchange and trade. It is indeed possible to embed the tour on a landing page with ads.

“I understand the hosting would be a deal breaker; can you make three email introductions to other administrators at other schools who might be interested in a virtual tour, if you are satisfied with the tour?”. Or, you can substitute other ideas. Get an endorsement for your website. Angle for an advertising spot in the year book. Go for a guaranteed in depth review.

Objections to hosting should be seen as an opportunity to structure the deal in a way that you walk away with as much as you can. You may not get monthly cash payments for the tour, but you can make sure it has a maximum positive impact on your brand.

Hosting should be contextual. There is no hosting in real estate. Schools, dealerships, and other “long term” tours are certainly on the table to have hosting attached.

Step Six: Close Sales

As mentioned, it is easy to land demos and meetings with school officials. We’re going to touch on some common objections, and how to overcome them. Generally getting the deal with a school to go through can take up to a whole year. It’s important to start and get as many irons in the fire as you can. Luckily conversion rates are high.

One common objection is safety, and it’s one we take very seriously. Schools will worry about malicious actors getting an understanding inside the school. This can be simply thwarted by not capturing most hallways. This leaves classrooms explorable spaces outside of context. Windows can be frosted in post production to further confuse orientation.

Expand With Cloudpano

Expand With Cloudpano

Another flexibility you might need is terms. Some institutions pay on 30, 60, or even 90 day terms. It’s important to be flexible. Remember, the ultimate goal is to be collecting hosting many years from now. And these school administrators and their staff operate in small circles, so reputation matters.

 

Step Seven: Live the Cloudpano dream

In conclusion, Cloudpano is the best virtual tour platform. So it’s easily the best for schools as well. From live meetings to student athlete recruitment, Cloudpano is the secret tool many school administrators and staff are just waiting to hear about. So don’t be shy! Develop your offering, and start making calls. If you go in with an honest heart and mind, you can bring great value to not only the school and the community, but yourself as well.