Selecting a college takes time. Students carefully peruse brochures, websites, academic offerings, and more to determine the right university for them. Campus grounds are one of the most important factors that they consider. Cozy dorms, beautiful wide open spaces, and other facilities conducive to learning can help you generate interest that can encourage them to apply.
Over the last few years, there has been a spike in demand for university virtual tours, especially since the pandemic. Many students nowadays prefer virtual campus tours over in-person campus visits to help them in their hunt for the ideal college. In response, leading universities are joining the bandwagon to enjoy the many benefits that virtual tours offer.
If you’re in charge of marketing your university and are thinking about offering virtual tours, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll tell you all you need to know, including how university virtual tours work and who conducts them. We also share the top seven advantages of hosting them.
How University Virtual Tours Work
University virtual tours are digital simulations of a college campus. They enable viewers to explore and engage with the campus in immersive and realistic ways. These tours showcase an educational institution’s facilities, amenities, dorms, laboratories, and classrooms to prospective students. Viewers can experience the university’s campus and culture through videos and other media formats on the university’s website. Interactive maps guide viewers through different locations on the campus.
Virtual tours also allow prospective students to browse photographs, digital guides, and additional information about the campus. They may offer links to related resources like social media pages and provide optional features like narration.
Students can access these tours through their smartphones, laptops, or VR headsets. Regardless of the university’s location, the tour will virtually transport students to a digital representation of the campus.
To view the tour, students only need to visit the university website hosting the tour, navigate to the tour webpage, and start exploring.
Who Conducts University Virtual Tours?
University virtual tours are usually created by 3D rendering service providers like Plus Render. They are often led by university-appointed virtual tour guides who are in charge of guiding prospective students through the tours. The guides talk about their facilities while students and parents get to have their questions answered.
3D rendering service providers may also create self-guided virtual tours that eliminate the need for tour guides.
7 Advantages of University Virtual Tours
As technology evolves, virtual tours have become more important in the college admissions process. They are powerfool tools for universities that are looking to engage students and market their campuses.
They provide 360-degree views that provide detailed information while saving time and expenses that come with physical tours.
Virtual tours offer various benefits to universities and prospective students, ranging from increased exposure and engagement to more informed decision-making. Here, we list the top seven advantages that make them a worthwhile investment:
1. More Exposure
Increased exposure is one of the biggest benefits of virtual tours for universities. Anyone with internet access can be a prospective student. So, universities can enjoy access to broader and more widely dispersed audiences from across the country and around the world.
Previously, students had to travel to universities to see the campus. With university virtual tours, this is no longer the case. Since they take place online, even interested students from distant locations can easily explore different campuses.
Hence, colleges can cast a wider net and draw interest from students no matter where they’re located.
2. Higher Engagement
Another important benefit of virtual tours is increased student engagement. An EAB study of over 650,000 students reported that potential students who share their contact details on an institution’s virtual tour are two times more likely to apply to it than those who email, call, or submit a form. They also produce better results than other marketing collaterals like websites and brochures because they’re immersive and interactive.
In addition, well-designed virtual campus tours highlight a university’s adaptability and modernity which helps establish a stronger connection with younger generations who are visually oriented and drawn to technological advancements.
Gamification of University Virtual Tours
One trend that is helping engagement is gamification. Essentially, gamification is the infusion of gameplay and rewards into user experiences to create more engaging environments. They may encourage users to continue exploring the simulated campus, offer virtual points or trophies for certain achievements, offer quizzes, and more.
Overall, gamification has the potential to make virtual tours fun instead of being a mere tool during the college selection process.
3. Helps Manage Expectations
Many international and local students may not be able to attend live university tours because they entail significant chunks of their time, traveling, expenses, and effort. Even if they can make the trip, it can be difficult to remember every aspect of the campus because there’s so much to take in all at once. This can lead to uncertainty for students, especially those who have already chosen to attend a particular university.
By implementing virtual university tours, colleges can better manage students’ expectations. In addition, students don’t need to expend as much effort just to familiarize themselves with their college of choice. If they want to look up certain features or facilities, they can easily hop on a virtual tour and revisit these aspects.
Ultimately, virtual campus tours allow students to make more informed decisions. Since they can virtually experience the environment, they know what to expect, are in a better position to decide if a campus is right for them, and eliminate misconceptions.
4. Competitive Advantage
The higher education market is a competitive one. In 2022, the size of the international higher education market reached $20.1 billion. It is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 20.2% and be worth $61.1 billion by 2028. Institutions must stand out from the crowd to remain relevant and successful.
A great way to do so is with university virtual tours. These tours provide institutions with a competitive edge by providing prospective students with unique and immersive ways to experience their campuses. They can also be used to highlight unique points of interest like buildings and landmarks.
Plus, virtual tours are cutting edge. Institutions who use them are better positioned to enjoy reputations for being progressive and technologically advanced.
5. Convenience and Efficiency
Virtual tours allow prospective students to explore many colleges without leaving the comfort of their homes. They can view different colleges’ facilities, amenities, classrooms, labs, and other areas from anywhere in the world using only their mobile devices without having to factor in distance or costs.
They don’t have to spend money traveling to various colleges and staying in nearby accommodation options while visiting campuses. This helps them find the best college without wasting time and money on physical visits, making their college hunt more efficient and convenient.
It also eases the work for college admission staff as they don’t have to deal with too many students on campus. Instead, they can host online Q&As through forums, message boards, social media, and more to handle inquiries that complement their tours and provide a more comprehensive customer experience.
6. Allows Students To Explore Campuses at Their Own Pace
Haven’t you ever been on a tour where you wish you could linger for a few moments longer but couldn’t because you were following the group’s itinerary?
This isn’t a problem with virtual tours since they allow you to go at your own pace, spending as much or as little time as you want in certain parts of the simulated environment. Of course, some virtual campus tours use video formats where you have to follow a certain flow. But even then, they’re still more flexible than a physical tour because you can rewind, play, and revisit certain frames at will.
7. Accommodate as Many Students as You Want
One of the most irritating things about in-person university tours is they quickly reach capacity. Hence, students must sign up for them early or risk not being able to join the tour. With virtual tours, this is not an issue. Anyone can access them, from the students to other family members. You don’t need to sign up in advance because they are always available.
You no longer have to worry about advanced registrations or crowd control. Simply upload the tour to your website and invite your audiences to explore it.
Creating Virtual Tours for Your University
Looking at beautifully executed virtual tours like the ones offered by Colorado State and Harvard, you might think that they’re technically difficult to develop. While that’s true, you don’t have to do the grunt work — not with visualization services from Plus Render.
Plus Render is a leading 3D visualization studio that creates rich, immersive, and extremely realistic environments, allowing you to highlight your campus and its most notable features from the best angles.
Allow us to help you draw the attention of your students like never before. Book a call with us and let’s talk.