Advertisers have always tapped into the power of imagination. In fact, it’s the first step in creating desire. Studies show that the imagination increases guests’ intention to travel and imagining experiences can impact purchase decisions even weeks later.
“Evoking the imagination as a strategy of influence” (Petrova and Cialdini) is not a new concept for hoteliers. Images and videos of rooms, on-site amenities, and nearby attractions are all there on hotel websites for guests to imagine themselves sitting poolside or enjoying room service.
Yet the efficacy of the imagination as a device for persuasion is somewhat limited to consumers’ ability to imagine. With virtual hotel tours, we no longer have to ask guests to imagine themselves enjoying the view from their room; we can invite them to experience it for themselves.
What are Virtual Hotel Tours?
As the name implies, a virtual hotel tour is a virtual tour of your hotel through the use of video. It may use video, panoramic photos, and 360-degree photos and videos stitched together to provide an immersive experience for the viewer. The video can be augmented with sound effects, music, narration, and text to amplify the experience and stimulate positive emotions.
The key word here is experiential, with the objective to provide guests with a sense of what it’s like to visit your hotel. It’s important to highlight your best features, particularly guest rooms and main amenities, such as a pool or gym and on-site restaurant. Generally, a key component of virtual hotel tours is the ability for the viewer to look in all directions from their POV.
Since virtual hotel tours do not require a headset, they are more accessible than virtual reality hotel tours in the metaverse as they only require a computer or smartphone to view.
Why are Virtual Tours Important for Independent Hotels?
Virtual hotel tours allow independent hotels to showcase a true sense of a hotel’s layout, amenities, and decor in a way that traditional photographs and videos do not.
Did you know that 98% of consumers report being more excited by 360-degree video? In fact, 50% of adults rely on virtual tours in their research and decision-making (Virtual Tour Company). Furthermore, two-thirds of customers surveyed said they were familiar with virtual tours and 67% wanted to see more of them available (Seek Beak).
It’s not rocket science to see how customer expectations are driving this trend. Virtual hotel tours are an amazing opportunity for independent hotels and have many benefits.
Did you know that video can increase conversions by as much as 80%? Virtual hotel tours invite guests to imagine and immerse themselves in your property. And liking what they see will create decision confidence to book. According to TIG Global, businesses with virtual tours report a look-to-book conversion ratio between 16-67%! Maximize the efficacy of your virtual hotel tours with a commission-free online booking engine for your property’s website.
Virtual hotel tours are an extension of your hospitality and provide a warm welcome in a way still images on their own do not. By engaging the senses and emotions, virtual hotel tours leave a lasting positive first impression.
Virtual hotel tours decrease bounce rates and increase the time visitors spend on your site—five to 10 times longer in fact! This helps confirm to search engines like Google that your content is useful and relevant and can result in higher ranking. Plus, the longer someone spends on your site, the greater the chance they will book!
Enhance Branding and Gain Competitive Edge
Virtual hotel tours send a message to your guests that you’re a savvy and modern property. When it comes down to choosing between your hotel and another, we’re betting they sway toward the hotel they can imagine themselves at.
Create Marketing Material
Use video outside of your website for other marketing initiatives as well, from social media (like YouTube and Facebook) to your Google business page to email marketing.
Increase Quality Event Leads
Do you offer event and meeting facilities? Specific videos catered to those areas of your business are a time saver and a money maker. Virtual tours of event facilities will reduce walkthrough requests while increasing better quality leads.
Create Better Accessibility
Virtual tours also make your hotel more accessible for those with anxiety who benefit from checking out your hotel in advance. By removing barriers that the unknown can present, guests can benefit from a sense of control and alleviate worry.
Key Elements of Virtual Hotel Tours
Whether you’re a tech-savvy, DIY hotelier or plan on hiring a professional, keep these best practices in mind to create conversion-driving virtual hotel tours that impress your guests.
- Create a video that is enticing but also realistic. Your virtual hotel tour should be a fair representation of your hotel or you risk disappointing your guests and generating bad reviews.
- Ensure your hotel is looking its best for its showcase. It’s a great opportunity to look objectively at your property. Do the bedspreads need replacing? Do the walls need a fresh coat of paint? Now’s the time. Pay attention to the details… Can that bin and those remotes be tucked out of sight for a cleaner, uncluttered look?
- Show your hotel in the best light—literally! Choose to film during a time of day when there is lots of natural lighting for your filming location then open the curtains and turn on all the lights! (Watch out for mirrors: you don’t want to catch yourself in the shot!) When filming outside, try for shortly after sunrise and shortly before sunset when the sun is lower on the horizon to avoid harsh overhead lighting.
- Include text overlays and pop-ups to call out specific highlights and takeaways. While videos are great for guests who process information experientially, those who process information analytically often lean more on text and specifics.
- Consider your virtual hotel tour as a highlights reel. This is the opportunity to show off your hotel’s main selling features and areas that are important to your guests, like guest rooms, the restaurant, spa, views, and common areas.
If you have some image and video editing experience and wish to create a video yourself, there is no shortage of apps that can help create your own virtual hotel tour. Look for apps that include customizable templates and allow you to upload images and videos in multiple formats.
Software apps that speak to the hospitality industry specifically include TeliportMe and Klapty. If you have a lean budget, try these apps out even if your technical background is limited! Some are exceptionally reasonable and user-friendly with the ability to create 360-degree captures through the use of your smartphone, like Cloudpano.
Virtual hotel tours present an exciting and innovative way for independent hotels to showcase their property and attract more bookings. Done well, hotels can offer guests an immersive experience that engages their imaginations and evokes positive emotions. Instead of asking guests to take your word for it, you can say, come see for yourself! You’ll increase decision confidence and your bookings in the process.