Virtual Tourism … The Way of the Future ??

A local Brisbane/Qld newspaper (The Courier Mail) has been running a very interesting series of articles over the last couple of weeks entitled “Future Tourism”. The series of articles has been focused on a whole range of tourism events and activities planned for Queensland in the future, and highlight a wealth of growth potential for Qld Tourism.

Many of the traditional “favourite” tourist activities have been covered in the Future Tourism series :

  • Eco Tourism – “Green” friendly walks, treks, accommodation and experiences, particularly around the Scenic Rim and Moreton Bay
  • Outback Tourism – Highlighting all the amazing activities and events available throughout QLDs regional areas
  • Indigenous Tourism – an increased focus on Indigenous focused activities and tourism

However one area of tourism which has not yet been heavily explored, and which I believe is the “way of the future” is Virtual Tourism.

What is Virtual Tourism

Essentially “Virtual Tourism” describes a whole range of technologies which allow you to “experience” an activity, location or event, from the comfort of your own home (or mobile device).

The aim of Virtual Tourism is not so much to replace the actual experience of visiting a tourist destination or event, but to give you a “taste” of the experience – and encourage you to visit it in real life.

Saying that, for those that are, for whatever reason, not able to physically visit a tourism destination, (e.g. as a result of time, geographical, financial or physical constraints), Virtual Tourism may offer a serious alternative.

The types of technologies normally associated with Virtual Tourism are primarily 360° Photos/Videos and Virtual Tours… In a previous post entitled Using 360° Imagery and Virtual Tours to Promote Tourism we provide more information about the technology and a whole lot of examples.

These technologies can be experienced by using a Desktop, Mobile Device or even via a Virtual Reality Headset.

Virtual Tourism Benefits

There are many advantages that Virtual Tourism technologies have to offer over traditional marketing techniques :

  • Innovation – Virtual Tours still provide an impressive “wow” factor – particular when coupled with aerial imagery
  • Connectivity & Accessibility – Provide a “spatial awareness” which is not possible with most other forms of marketing. Virtual Tours can be used by anyone with internet access via a variety of devices (mobile, desktop, VR Headset)…
  • Experiential  & Interactive – Offer an “experience” based interface, where users get to Interact and actually participate.  The user gets to experience what they want, when and how they want to (rather than be forced along a predefined/guided journey) and this provides a level of emotional attachment not available through traditional media (photos and video)
  • Inspirational – Offer a “taste” of the experience and provide insights into what is on offer, which very often results in a “I want to see more” moment. 
  • Curated Content – A Virtual Tour provides a framework which can be used to present a wide variety of other content (Images, Galleries,. Video, Stories, Information, Links, etc…)
  • Recyclable – although custom 360° imagery may be required it is also possible to re-use existing assets by incorporating and referencing pre-existing content
  • Extendable – Virtual Tours can very easily be updated, modified and improved to update, add or remove activities and experiences

See naturalbridge.panoview.com.au for Full Screen version

Virtual Tourism for Your Tourism Business

If you’d like to find out more about how Virtual Tourism could be used to promote your Travel Destination, Events or Activities, please give Andy a call on 0403 023 223 … or Contact Us.

Using 360° Imagery and Virtual Tours to Promote Tourism

Virtual Tours, 360° Photos and 360° Video offer unique, innovative and interactive marketing opportunities. Tourism Operators and agencies are increasingly using these technologies to more effectively showcase the locations, facilities and events that they offer to tourists.

Benefits of 360° Imagery

360° Photos, Video and Virtual Tours offer a collection of unique benefits which make them extremely effective at showcasing and promoting tourism based activities and events :

  • Innovation – Offer a very impressive “wow” factor – particular when coupled with aerial imagery
  • Connectivity & Accessibility – Provide a spatial awareness which is not possible with most other forms of marketing. Virtual Tours can be used by anyone with internet access via a variety of devices (mobile, desktop, VR Headset)…
  • Experiential  & Interactive – Offer an “experience” based interface, where users get to Interact and actually participate. This provides a level of emotional attachment not available through traditional media (photos and video)
  • Inspirational – Offer a “taste” of the experience and provide insights into what is on offer, which very often results in a “I want to see more” moment. 
  • Recycle – Virtual Tours are able to incorporate and reference existing content (information, Photos, Video, Stories, Links, Audio, etc…) .
  • Extendable – can very easily be updated, modified and improved to update or add extra activities and experiences

The Tabs below provide examples of different ways (primarily in South East Queensland) that 360° Imagery has been used for promoting Tourism :

360° Photos
Aerial 360s
360° Video
Google Virtual Tours
Standalone Virtual Tours
Street View

Individual 360° Photos (Panospheres) provide an interactive 360° experience allowing users full control to look around (tilt, pan and zoom).

Click and Drag an image to move around

Over 100,000 views per year

Panospheres can be uploaded directly to Google Maps, Social Media, or 3rd party Tourism sites such as Expedia or Tripadvisor

Aerial 360° Panospheres provide a unique “overhead” perspective on a location. The best quality aerial photos consist of multiple photographs taken with a drone or UAV and processed to create a single high quality 360° aerial photo.

Aerial 360s offer a unique way to show a large area and, when incorporated into a virtual tour, offer a fantastic framework for showcasing tourist destinations.

Click and Drag an image to move around

25,000+ Views in 10 months

360° Video has developed a bot of a reputation for being poor quality, and complex (and expensive) to produce… however recent technological advances have resulted in dramatic quality improvements and significant cost reductions – making it accessible to even low budget marketing campaigns.

Virtual Tours published to Google are directly available via Google Search and Google Maps, and can be embedded into a website, social media.. or emailed as a link. However Google Virtual Tours have relatively limited features.

Click and Drag an image to move around

Standalone Virtual Tours are often one of the most effective ways to promote tourism as they give you much more control of the experience. They also offer a wide range of features such as :

  • Logo/Branding
  • Custom Icons
  • Menu Navigation
  • External Links
  • a variety of Hotspots and popup capabilities (e.g. Photo, Gallery, Video, Audio)
  • Auto-rotation
  • and much much more.

Click and Drag an image to move around

See esplanade.panoview.com.au for Full Screen version

See lescapade.panoview.com.au for Full Screen version

See naturalbridge.panoview.com.au for Full Screen version

Usually Street View functionality would only be available once the Google Street View car has visited your area… but for new or remote locations this may take years (if at all)… It is however possible to create and publish to Google Maps a Virtual Tour which replicates the Street View experience.

Click and Drag an image to move around

What Does it Cost ?

Costs will vary depending on the location, the size and layout of the area/s you want covered, and the features/functionality that you’d like to include… Prices start from as little as $100 for a single 360° panosphere up to thousands of dollars for large sophisticated standalone virtual tours.

We would typically be able to provide a ballpark figure once we have spoken to you, but may need to undertake a site visit to provide you with a formal quote.

Find Out More…

If you’d like to discuss how we can help you to incorporate 360° Photos, Video or Virtual Tours into your Tourism Marketing Campaign, please give Andy a call on 0403 023 223 or Contact Us.

Curiocity Brisbane – Interactive Virtual Tour

Curiocity Brisbane – a series of science, art and technology “experiences” spanning the Brisbane River will be on display for 20 days (15 March to 3rd April 2019).

One-of-a-kind installations, pop-ups and interactive spaces crafted by local and international artists, technicians and makers will be available for everyone to explore.

From New Farm Park, under the Story Bridge, right through to Brisbane’s South Bank, 16 different experiences will be operating.

The theme of this event is for a fully immersive, sensory experience for everyone, and how better can this be achieved than through an interactive Virtual Tour ??

An Unofficial Virtual Tour

Despite the obvious synchronicity between a Virtual Tour and the Curiocity Brisbane event, a Virtual Tour was not unfortunately offered (or even considered ??) as one of the ways Curiocity Brisbane could be experienced. I have therefore taken it upon myself to create and publish my own virtual tour – making these experiences available, not just in Brisbane, but also throughout, Queensland, Australia and the whole world (without actually having to visit the Brisbane CBD at all).

This is also an awesome project to showcase some of the more sophisticated capabilities of a Standalone Virtual Tour.

Here is the current version of my Curiocity Brisbane Virtual Tour

See curiocity.panoview.com.au for Full Screen version

Work in Progress

Note: this virtual tour could obviously only be photographed and therefore created once the individual installations were in place (which didn’t actually happen until after 15 March)… to add to the problems the first few days of the event were very wet and stormy (raindrops and fisheye lenses just don’t play nicely together), so this Tour is a Work In Progress… here is a brief update of the process/progress :

  • 14 March – Wet and Overcast – visited Story Bridge sites (Astronauts, Da Vinci’s Dream, Moon Drops) – installations still under construction. Visited Howard Smith Wharf (Something Fishy) – photographed and shot an Aerial 360
  • 15 March – Wet and Overcast – photographed Panospheres for Astronauts, Da Vinci’s Dream, Moon Drops, SuperNova. Too wet for Aerial Panos
  • 16- 18 March – Processed Panos, used some existing Aerial 360s and published 1st draft to curiocity.panoview.com.au
  • 19 March – 1st Sunny day for a week 🙂 – Photographed Panos for Fibonacci Spiral, Scatter (also recorded audio), Dynamo, Shadowgram, Tag It, Sky Brisbane, 2 x Aerial 360s for South Bank, and various Aerial Videos
  • 20 March – Contacted the Curiocity team to let them know what I was doing with the Virtual Tour to see if they may be interested in using it in some way to promote the Curiocity Brisbane event.
  • 21 March – heard back from a 3rd party Marketing Agency (apparently associated with Curiocity Brisbane marketing). They don’t seem interested in using the Virtual Tour, and actually requested (very nicely) that I remove Curiocity branding, Logos and references from it (which I will do in the next release). An unexpected response … seems they are more interested in “protecting” the brand then they are in promoting the event 🙂
  • 22 March – Version 2 published. This version includes :
    • Panospheres for Fibonacci Spiral, Dynamo, Scatter, Shadowgram, Tag It & Sky Brisbane
    • Updated Aerial and (sunny day) panospheres for Da Vincis’ Dream, Moon Drops and Astronauts
    • Added Splash Screen, with instructions
    • Improved and extended Menu (for mobile)
    • Removed Curiocity Branding and Links
  • 22 March – Re-shot Something Fishy (sunny) and HS Wharves Aerial. Shot Wave Opus IV (No audio because it was not working). Republished VT with Direct Node Access (can now link via URL to any node) and also added Event Tracking to provide analytics.
  • 26 March – New version uploaded – Added Waves Opus IV, Added some Night panospheres (and ability to switch between day/night for certain modes) – Added Something Fishy (Night), Waves Opus IV (night) and added Audio to Scatter
  • 30 March – New version uploaded – Changed Starting Point (to Sunny Story Bridge & Brisbane Cityscape), Changed Navigation Icons (Added Home Icon, Added Menu to top left, Moved Map Icon to bottom left), Added popup Video to Davinci’s Dream (see below).

If you’d like to find out how a Virtual Tour could be crafted
to showcase your event, please give Andy a call
on 0403 023 223 or Contact Us

Virtual Tours for Retirement Villages

With Australia’s aging population, it is unsurprising that Aged Care is a rapidly growing industry.  There is an increasing array of accommodation and service options available to retirees, with more and more providers offering a diversity of different facilities including :

  • Retirement Villages
  • Over 50s Resorts
  • Aged Care Centers
  • Nursing Homes

It is becoming increasingly challenging for Aged Care providers to “stand out from the crowd” and effectively promote and market their offerings.

 

Why a Virtual Tour ?

For a whole lot of reasons, Virtual Tours are a fantastic way to showcase Aged Care facilities to potential residents (and their families).  Some of the advantages a Virtual Tour has over traditional marketing strategies include :

  • Innovative – a Virtual Tour is a unique and innovative way for potential resident to “experience” and interact with your facilities
  • Multi Use – there are many ways your Virtual Tour can be used.  It can be embedded into a Website, posted onto Social Media, emailed as a link, or experienced via a Virtual Reality (VR) Headset
  • Reusable – once you have a Virtual Tour setup, it can be used and re-used multiple times… Only needing refreshing/updating if you have a significant change in the physical appearence or layout of your facility
  • Easy Access – a Virtual Tour can be available to anyone with Internet Access.  Potential residents do not have to physically visit your location to get a taste of the facilities you offer.  This is ideal for Remote, Interstate or even International prospects
  • Ease of Use – most people find using and navigating a Virtual Tour fairly intuitive and are able to use it with little or no instruction
  • Time to Market – typically we would be able to create and publish your Virtual Tour within 7-10 days of the photoshoot (large or very sophisticated VTs may take a little longer)
  • Emotional Attachment – because of the interactive process involved in undertaking a  Virtual Tour, and the “control” the user has over their experience, it naturally becomes a more emotional experience than is possible with photos or video (which offer very little in the way of participation).
  • Extra Information – a Virtual Tour can include hotspots and extra functionality to help showcase your facility, such as :
    • Your Branding/Logo
    • Links to a website
    • “Call Now” Link to directly dial a phone number
    • Menu system / Navigation
    • Hotspots with popup Information, Photos or Video
    • Background Sound
    • and more…

 Virtual Tour Options

There are a variety of different types of Virtual Tours and associated available for Aged Care facility providers, at a range of costs and offering a variety of different features

Google Virtual Tour

This types of tour is probably the one that is most widely noticed…. because it is accessible directly from Google Search / Google Maps, and can also be embedded into a website, sent as a link, or added into social media.  It is the simplest Virtual Tour to setup and publish, but has relatively limited features. Examples :

Standalone Virtual Tour

Standalone Virtual Tours are the most popular style of VTs for the Aged Care/Retirement Industry because they allow you to include Logo/Branding information and offer a wide variety of features and functionality, including Hotspots, Menu Navigation, Image/Video Popups, Background Audio, Auto Rotation… and more… Examples :

Individual 360° Panospheres

An Individual 360° Panosphere is a single interactive image – usually published to Google Maps.  It doesn’t include navigation/walkthrough capabilities or fancy features, but can be added to Google Maps, embedded into your website, or posted to social media. Examples :

Street View Tours

If your facility includes public road access, then it will (probably) eventually be covered by Googles Street View… However you are likely to be waiting years before the Street View Car is scheduled to visit your development.  We can shoot and publish (to Google Maps) Street View Tours which are available from Google Maps much sooner without having to wait for Google). Examples :

Aerial 360° Panosphere

Like an Individual 360° Panosphere, an Aerial Panosphere is a single interactive image, but it provides an aerial perspective (taken from a drone) and provides a great way to showcase the location/community Examples :

VR Headsets

All Virtual Tours can be viewed from a mobile device or a desktop, however, it is also possible to view most (sometimes with extra customisation) via a Virtual Reality Headset such as the Oculus Go (a Standalone VR Headset with excellent image quality).  This is a much more immersive experience and is a fantastic way to showcase your facility at Expos or Trade Shows.

What About Costs?

Prices for a 360° Photo or Virtual Tour to showcase your Retirement Facility, start from as little as $120 for an Individual Photosphere ranging up to several thousand dollars for a large sophisticated Standalone Virtual Tour.

If you’d like to discuss how we can help you create a Virtual Tour to promote your Aged Care Facility, give Andy a call on 0403 023 223 or ContactUs.

Using Panoramic Photos & Aerial Photo/Video to Showcase a Revegetation Project

Clever use of photography can be very effective in showcasing a wide variety of locations.  In this quick example we have used aerial and ground based panoramic photos and some basic aerial video to display the results of a revegetation project at Woodlands St, Carindale.

Aerial Photos

Panosphere

Aerial Panoramic Photo

Aerial Video