You’ve probably seen virtual tours on other hotel websites. But you’re a busy hotel manager, and you’re also wondering why you should spend time and energy on creating a hotel virtual tour for your own building. There are a few good reasons.
Websites with virtual tours are viewed five to ten times longer than those that don’t have them. Virtual tours also increase online revenue up to 135%, according to a study by the Carlson Hotel Group, and generate 46% more sales than still images.
It’s easy to see why: virtual tours allow users to inspect a hotel before they book, so they know exactly what kind of room to expect, what amenities are offered, and what kind of luxury they’ll find when they arrive. That way, there are no unpleasant surprises when they swipe their room key.
It’s never been easier to create a virtual tour for your hotel, so there’s no reason not to add such a dynamic feature to your hotel’s website right away.
We’ve put together a simple guide to help you do just that.
1. Select the right equipment
If you run a small hotel and don’t want to shell out a lot of money for expensive photography equipment, you can create a quick video tour using your smartphone by simply walking through your hotel or bed and breakfast and talking about the amenities. For small, intimate hotels, that can work just fine.
For larger hotels and chains—or small hotels that want to convey a more professional image—you probably want something a bit more refined. For this, you need a fisheye lens—an ultra-wide-angle lens that allows you to create panoramic images.
If you’re a small hotel that wants to create a fairly professional looking tour, you can purchase a fisheye lens for your smartphone for about $20 as well as a tripod. A good fisheye lens for more expensive digital cameras can run in the hundreds of dollars, but some are available for only around $20 or so.
As far as the resolution of the digital camera itself, you’ll want one capable of at least 20 megapixels for a high-quality virtual tour.
2. Get virtual tour software
LiveTour software via iStaging
Next, you need virtual tour software. We currently have 21 software options in the virtual tour software directory to choose from. The top three based on user reviews are Roundme, iStaging, and Animoto.
- Roundme allows you to create, upload, and share 360-degree panoramic photos, which you can turn into virtual spaces that users can visit. You can create “portals” on a map of your hotel or property that people can click on to explore a specific spot.
Price: The software costs $15 per tour
Have you used Roundme? Leave a review!
- LiveTour by iStaging boasts the ability to create 360-degree virtual reality tours by using a floor plan editor to stitch 360-degree panoramas together to create an interactive virtual tour. You can add markers or hot spots within the panoramas that people can click on and jump to a different area or detail.
Price: The software is free for the basic version, but for extra features you’ll have to sign up for plans ranging from $9 to $39 per month
Have you used LiveTour? Leave a review!
- Animoto is a simple video creator for those who don’t want to spend a lot of time learning about software features. You upload a photo or video clips, add a logo, choose a music track, and then the software puts it together for you.
Price: Plans range from $8 per month to $34 per month, and you can try it for free before you buy
Have you used Animoto? Leave a review!
3. Create your virtual tour
Virtual tour created by Roundme
Now that you have the right equipment and the software to put it all together, it’s time to start creating your virtual tour. Have fun with this and don’t be afraid to experiment—you can always record new footage and alter it in the software later.
Here’s a few tips to keep in mind before you get started:
- Choose locations beforehand that you want the tour to focus on. It’s tempting to try to cram every little thing in your hotel into a tour, but be selective. Focus on the highlights, like your lobby, a couple of representative rooms (such as a suite and a standard double-bed room), your restaurant, and any other areas that make your hotel stand out that your guest might be curious about.
- Clean and straighten up everything. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you should give some attention to every tiny detail that may stand out on a high-definition computer screen. Make your spaces perfect—even the smallest stain may be a turnoff to a prospective guest.
- Determine the best time of day to shoot. You don’t want to create a virtual tour when the light is not right. Do you want a sunset streaming into your room? Perhaps you want to show a beautiful night sky with a full moon on your rooftop bar? You’ll need to consult the lunar calendar. Check the white balance on your camera’s settings during the shooting of the tour, as you may need to adjust it as the lighting changes depending on which room you’re in.
- Embed text in your hotel virtual tour to allow guests to further understand what you offer. Many virtual tour software options will allow you to create spots within the tour that a visitor can click and read some accompanying text. You can use this to describe in detail some of the other features or services you offer, such as a discount at the spa for new guests or information on some of the bath and beauty products you stock in the bathrooms.
Show us your virtual tour
Have you created a virtual tour of your own hotel? Please share it with us in the comments below, and let us know which software you used and any lessons you learned during the process.