One of the most powerful tools in the Admissions’ toolkit is the in-person campus tour. These visits give school representatives a chance to show the personality of their campus and to highlight what is special about their school. So now, with many campuses shuttered as the country stays home in response to COVID-19, it is more important than ever for schools to shift that connection with prospective students and their families to online.
This post shares some ideas for creating a virtual campus tour and personalizing that experience for your virtual visitors.
First, what is a virtual tour?
A virtual tour is an online experience that usually features video, 360° images, photo galleries, drone footage, campus maps, voice over, music, text, and/or hyperlinks. It can be organized so that it is linear, as in a video that plays uninterrupted by the viewer, or interactive so that the user can browse the information at will.
So how do you create a virtual campus tour from scratch? Below are some different types of tours, with tips on how to DIY your own tour.
Video tours usually start out with a welcome message and feature a tour guide or narrator talking about all of the highlights as the user watches footage from around the campus. It can also simply feature a slideshow woven together into a video with captions, voice over narration or music. Or a tour can be a page of video clips organized by your campus highlights.
View Furman University Video Tour
View Villa Victoria Academy Video Slideshow Tour
View Webpage of Videos for Bear Creek School
- If you still have access to your campus, use your mobile phone to video a walk through of the campus. Play the video on your computer and create a screencast with recording a script for narration. Upload that to YouTube or Vimeo and embed it on your website.
- Take pictures with your mobile phone or a camera and capture the various campus highlights, or comb through your image library and look for images that are representative of all the campus features. Use a slideshow maker like, PhotoStory Adobe Spark, Smilebox or iMovie to create a slideshow with captions and music. Upload that to YouTube or Vimeo and embed it on your website.
Interactive Campus Map Tours
These tours usually feature a campus map with icons embedded throughout to showcase the highlights on campus with 360° images, image slideshows or video clips.
View Dunn School Interactive Map
View Marvelwood Interactive Map Tour
View Carrollwood Day School 360° Interactive Tour
- Dig through your archives and find assets like campus maps, video clips and images representing the campus features you want to highlight. Set up a web page and include supporting media for each “tour stop.”
- If you have access to your campus, take photos or even do videos where you spin around the space to recreate a “360°” video. Use these tips for getting great iPhone images.
- If you don’t have a professionally illustrated campus map for your school, look for a drone or aerial image, take a screen capture of drone video footage, or look up your campus on Google Earth or Apple Maps and take a screen shot of the satellite view. Be sure to try the 3D feature.
Google Earth Example
Using your virtual campus tour
Once you have your virtual campus tour, be sure to add links to it throughout your website, like on your Admissions, About, Contact, International and/or Campus pages. You should also set up a special “Virtual Visit” resources page where prospects can get all of the new Admissions process information in one place.
Other things you can do are:
- Schedule a time for weekly or biweekly Zoom conferences to “guide” visitors through your virtual tour
- Advertise your tour on your “Virtual Visit” page, via your social media and through other channels as a virtual walk through
- Have visitors register to take the tour so you can to capture lead data
- During your conference, share your screen so you have a visual as you take them through your talking points
- Follow up with guests by sending them links to your virtual camps tour and other media content
As the old expression goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Now is the time to get creative with what you have. I think people understand that we are all going through a challenging time and in many ways, learning as we go. So as long as your virtual campus tour is organized, visually stimulating and works in concert with your message to communicate the unique qualities of your campus, it will do the job.