Business and technology have always marched in lockstep: the need for better business practices has fuelled technological innovation, and technological innovation has fuelled better practices.
One of the latest examples of this symbiosis is the “virtual tour”, or the 360° tour, which capitalizes on improvements in image sequencing and 3D reconstruction to give businesses a way to show off their space remotely and entice a whole new range of customers.
The technology is not really new – in fact, it has been used for years by the real estate industry to give remote prospective buyers a sense of different properties – but the tools and practices used have gotten a lot better. Consequently, you’ll see a lot of new Houston businesses embracing the virtual tour as part of their website experience.
This article will look at a few of the reasons why Houston businesses have embraced the 360° tour, as well as offer up a case study of one business that has made great use of the technology.
A Case Study
BATL, or the Backyard Axe Throwing League is a local business that offers (you guessed it) axe throwing. Book a lane at BATL and you’re armed with an axe, as well as a demonstration on how to throw it at the wooden target provided. It’s a fun, exciting game that’s popular for birthdays, bachelor and bachelorette parties, work outings and other group meet-ups. The only problem is that many people who haven’t tried it, have no good conception of what it’s like.
Enter the 360° tour. With a 360 VR tour of Backyard Axe Throwing League interested party planners can snoop around the facility, see what the space is like and get a sense of the game. For a business such as BATL that might not have the same foot traffic visibility as, for example, a restaurant, the tour is a great way to get the word out.
Why Embrace the Virtual Experience?
When a customer visits your site and uses the virtual tour, they engage with your business in a more meaningful way than if they were to simply look at pictures. They can visualize the experience you offer, and therefore feel a greater sense of connection with it. It is, to put it another way, the difference between shopping and window-shopping. With virtual tours, it is as though you have opened your physical door and invited them in, rather than making them peer at your business through the window.
Virtual Foot Traffic
Businesses, especially those offering niche products or services, don’t always have the benefit of prime real estate. And even if they do, the foot traffic may still be less than desirable. But foot traffic remains important to businesses. It’s an old problem with a modern solution. Virtual tours allow prospective customers and clients to view your business from the comfort of their own home. You don’t need to shell out a fortune on prime real estate when the internet offers the very same vistas and exposure.
If you’re unfamiliar, SEO – or search engine optimization – is the process of increasing your website’s visibility and presence on search engines like Google. Your website’s SEO ranking is in part measured by the amount of time users spend on your site, and the amount they interact with it. To that end, 360° tours can be an effective tool in improving organic SEO.
As you saw in the case study with BATL, virtual tours can be effective when it comes to demonstrating a service or product that might otherwise be difficult to describe. If part of your brick and mortar business is given over to the process of manufacturing or experiencing your product, then virtual tours are great.
A perfume-making business, for example, would do well embedding a virtual tour: not many people know the process of making perfume, and seeing the site of the process can help demonstrate its value. A brewery is another good example – it allows people to connect with the product by seeing a demonstration of how it’s made.
360° tours are the latest tool in the small business owner’s arsenal. They allow you to craft a more robust website experience, improving your customer engagement, demonstrating your product and improving SEO in the meantime. It’s no wonder Houston businesses have embraced this new technology – it’s “virtually” unparalleled.