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.

How Local Councils are using Virtual Tours

Virtual Tours, 360° Photos and 360° Video offer unique, innovative and interactive ways of marketing. Local, Regional and City Councils are increasingly using these technologies to more effectively showcase the locations, facilities and events that they provide to residents and visitors.

The Tabs below provide examples of different Virtual Tour projects used by Councils in South East Queensland :

Community Halls
Parks & Playgrounds
Special Events
Tourism
Suburban Experiences

Many Local Councils have Community Halls, buildings or community spaces that are available for hire by local residents, for a variety of community and private activities – from hobby or charity based activities through to birthday parties and wedding receptions.

It takes a significant amount of resources to manage these spaces, often with quite a lot of time and expense involved with marketing and managing bookings – particularly when potential hirers wish to “inspect” the spaces prior to bookings.

A Virtual Tour is a fantastic way to showcase the capabilities of a particular venue and specific spaces within each venue – and can save significant time, effort and costs associated with visual inspections prior to booking.

Community Hall Virtual Tours can be published direct to Google (as a Google StreetView Virtual Tour)and then embedded into the booking page/s on your website – or sent to potential hirers by email as a link.


More sophisticated Standalone Virtual Tours which offer many more features and capabilities, could also be used for a more sophisticated approach to marketing and booking your local community spaces.

Parks, Playgrounds, and Sporting Fields are significant assets for Local Councils… and provide fantastic amenity for local residents and visitors, but incur significant maintenance and management costs – and are often under-utilised.

One of the main issues with the use of community spaces likes parks is promoting what services and facilities are actually available. Residents who live in the immediate vicinity are often aware and make use of these spaces, but those living in the wider community and visitors to the area are often oblivious to the great facilities that are often available.

Google Virtual Tours can be created and are accessible direct from Google Maps…(or can be embedded into a local council website), and Standalone Virtual Tours offer a range of more sophisticated features such as Branding/Menu Navigation/Popup Information Hotspots and External Links.

See Full Screen View Here : bccparks.panoview.com.au

360° photos (particularly aerial 360°photos) are very effective at showing off parks and playgrounds and where they are located in relation to the neighbourhood and other community facilities.

Whether it is a one-off Special Occasion, an Annual Event, or a recurring local activity, Virtual Tours can provide a unique and innovative way to promote Special Events.

By providing potential visitors with an insight into what is on offer, a virtual tour can not only make the event accessible to a much wider audience, but encourage more people to attend physically.

Because of the unique nature of special events, a Standalone Virtual Tour is probably the best option, because they provide greater control and flexibility.

See Full Screen View Here : curiocity.panoview.com.au

As well as offering facilities and services for local residents, attracting visitors (as well as new businesses and residents) is a key role of any council.

Promoting tourism to the various local attractions is therefore a VERY important function of councils.

Virtual Tours are a fantastic way to showcase the various attractions and facilities a region has to offer to tourists and visitors as well as local residents.

See Full Screen View Here : esplanade.panoview.com.au

See Full Screen View Here : naturalbridge.panoview.com.au

Using a Virtual Tour to showcase a particular Suburb, Region or Area, provides an interactive visual tool, which gives great spatial awareness (so users can see which activities/facilities are where in relation to locations they may be familiar with) but also, (because they are “in control” of the experience) forms a much higher emotional attachment than is possible with traditional marketing tools such as photos or videos.

See Full Screen View Here : carinaheights.panoview.com.au

Get a Virtual Tour

If you’d like to find out more about how Virtual Tours and 360° Photos and Video could be used to promote events, facilities, and services within your local council area, please give Andy a call on 0403 023 223 … or Contact Us.

Hervey Bay Esplanade – A Virtual Tour

My dad has lived in Hervey Bay for more than 20 years, so I manage to get to “visit” several times a year and feel fairly connected to the area. One of the things I Love about Hervey Bay is “The Esplanade” – a 16km stretch of road along the waterfront, Gatakers Bay in the north-west to Urangan Boat Harbour in the south-east – with plenty of Parks, Piers, Cafes and Restaurants in between and spanning the ‘suburbs’ of Urangan, Shelly Beach, Torquay, Scarness, Pialba and Point Vernon.

I decided that a Virtual Tour – incorporating Aerial 360° panoramas as well as traditional panospheres, would be an ideal way to showcase The Esplanade – as well as showing some of the amazing capabilities a Standalone Virtual Tour has to offer the Tourism Industry.

On a recent (Easter 2019) visit, I did a series of photoshoots, and despite the weather not being ideal (windy and sporadic showers), over a few days, I managed to get enough decent photos to create the following virtual tour.

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

This tour is not yet complete (there are a number of extra aerial panospheres I would like to do) and includes some photos taken on overcast days (which should probably be re-shot in beautiful sunny conditions), but it does, I think, provide an interesting, innovative, interactive and unique insight into the Hervey Bay Esplanade and what it has to offer.