Where to Feature Your Campus Virtual Tour on your Website

Our clients often ask us the best way to incorporate a virtual campus tour into their school website.

Since Circlescapes virtual tours are best viewed in a dedicated browser tab, we don’t actually need to touch your primary website at all. All you need to do is add a link (or links) to your website to launch the virtual tour in a new window.

Where you place those links is up to you. Is it more relevant to the “Student Life” section? Would it fit in under “About Us?” How about a big button on your home page so it is sure to be seen? Well, there are no right answers so I want to share with you what some other schools are doing and where we see the best returns.

Most schools feature a revolving banner on their home page. This is a great way to showcase the virtual tour when it is newly launched. You could take a screen shot of the tour and add that as the visual, or use another image of your campus with a link that says: “Check out our new 360° virtual campus tour!”

Many schools have highly interactive home pages with lots of great information as you scroll down the page. This is a good opportunity to feature the tour on your “Home” page like Pennington and the Oregon Episcopal School:

 

We recommend that you have more than one path to get to the virtual tour. For example Oregon Episcopal School also has a button on their top nav bar that is accessible from anywhere on the website:

 

A natural place to put a campus virtual tour is on your “Admissions” page or in that section of your site. Some examples of this are The McCallie School, Lake Forest Academy and Brewster Academy.

 

Brewster has their tour available in a few places in the Admissions section. It is a button on their “Your Campus Visit” page.

 

And it is a ”Helpful Link” on the “International Student Programs” page.

 

You might have a special page dedicated to your campus. That is also great spot to add a text link or button to your virtual campus tour, like Chadwick International:

 

Your “About Us” page or section is one frequently visited by prospective families, students and faculty to get introductory information about your school. This is also a great place for a link or button. An example of this is Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn:

 

Even if your tour is featured as a button on your home page or in various other subsections, it is good to have a link in your Quicklinks drop down list, on your site map, and available in search:

 

You can also feature the panoramas from your tour on Google Maps, like in the following example of Brewster Academy. This is what you will see when the user searches your school’s name:

 

And when “See photos” is clicked, a tray of 360° photos pulls up:

 

You can also post individual panoramas on Facebook or deep link to relevant panoramas. For example, you may only want to show 360° images of your dorm rooms on your “Residential Life” page or show off your new Aquatics Center on your “Athletics” page.

To recap, here are some recommendations for where to feature your tour and remember, multiple locations is best!

  • Home page
  • About us
  • Admissions
  • Campus
  • Residential Life
  • Facility Rentals
  • Visit Us
  • International Students
  • Google Maps
  • Facebook

Let us know if you have other ideas for your tour or if you would like more information on creating an interactive campus tour for your school: Circlescapes Virtual Tours (information@circlescapes.com).

 

 

Add panoramas from your virtual tour to Facebook

Now you can add 360° panoramic spins to your Facebook page. We will send you the format that you need and you simply upload it as you would post any other image! At this time, Facebook downsizes the quality of the images, but it is still fun to share these spherical images with your Facebook friends and fans. See on Facebook.

Screenshot from Facebook

Screenshot from Facebook

 

This is the virtual tour on client’s website:

 

 

Add our panoramas to Google Maps

Whether it’s a full-blown virtual tour or a series of Google photospheres on the Google Maps platform, we can create the virtual tour you’re looking for.

Below, you’ll see examples of each type. The client is the Lakeside Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Jacksonville, FL

Sample: Google Photospheres embedded into Google Maps

Sample: Virtual Tour on client’s website

 

 

KU Athletics VR Tours for Google Cardboard

Circlescapes developed VR versions of the Kansas Athletics virtual tours for the Google Cardboard headsets.  The KU coaches will use the VR tours on recruiting visits, so athletes can immerse themselves in KU’s facilities, living spaces, campus and community.

If you have a Google Cardboard headset, go to: http://circlescapes.biz/KUathletics/tour/vr.html.  

And if you don’t have a headset, why not?!

Each of the 12 sports has it’s own VR tour, consisting of about 20 panoramas each.  Here’s how to view them:

  1. Browse to the link above using your phone
  2. Turn off your phone’s sleep mode
  3. Select a sport to view
  4. Turn your phone to landscape mode (horizontal)
  5. Place the phone in your Google Cardboard headset
  6. Place the headset on your head and start exploring!

To navigate the to a new panorama

  1. Look Down
  2. Place the cursor on the NEXT or BACK buttons and stare for a couple of seconds

 

 

Awesome VR Experiences

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Student exploring a VR campus using the cardboard viewer

Can a low cost, folded up piece of cardboard make your campus shine in VR?

Google cardboard headset

Google Cardboard headset

Absolutely, with Google Cardboard! Google Cardboard is a virtual reality (VR) platform that allows the user to look through a headset reminiscent of the ViewMaster (remember that from your childhood?) and navigate through immersive images with a tilt of the head. A smartphone is inserted into the headset and surrounds the student with panoramas from your campus.

The headsets are relatively inexpensive, and can easily be purchased online. Fancier ones are made out of plastic and include a strap that goes around your head.

How does it work? The content on your phone is split into two screens- one for the left eye and one for the right. The term is stereoscopic imaging. The two screens are synchronized, so when you rotate your head, both images spin up down and all the way around. The Cardboard viewers allow you to transport potential students to your campus from anywhere in the world and immerse them in your surroundings.

Click to see a sample VR Experience on your Google Cardboard headset

So picture this, you are at a recruiting event and at your table the potential students and families can put on one of your Google Cardboard viewers and take a 360° tour of your campus. Or better yet, you can send them home with one that has your logo and virtual tour address printed on it. Or, you may have a family in another country who can’t make the trip to see your campus in person, so you just pop a Google Cardboard viewer in the mail to them with the URL they can visit to take your tour in virtual reality. Now that is memorable!

If you need help setting up your 360° tour so that it is viewable on a Google Cardboard headset, or if you need a 360° virtual campus tour, drop us a line!

 

 

 

ADD 3 SPINS . . . FREE

add3spinsSpring is in the air!  And to celebrate, we have a special virtual tour deal.  Our “ADD 3 SPINS” special is simple:

  1. Order any virtual tour package with 10 or more spins by the end of April 2016, and
  2. Schedule our photographers to visit your campus before the end of September 2016, then
  3. We’ll give you 3 additional spins at no cost – a value of $750

So 10 spins is now 13.  15 is 18.  24 is now 27.  You get the idea.

But you may ask, “what does a 10-spin virtual tour cost?”

  • A deluxe 10-spin virtual tour is $4,500 + travel
  • If you need more spins, that’s fine.  Each extra spin costs $250 . . . and remember, you’ll get the first 3 additional ones free!
  • You can add video clips, slideshows, maps, and clickable links to the tour, too.

call us (904.383.7746) or click here to get started!

 

 

 

 

 

Austin Convention Center Virtual Tour

The Austin Convention Center Department operates two facilities in Austin, Texas — The Austin Convention Center and the Palmer Events Center.  Recently, we helped them launch virtual tours for each venue.  The tours feature 3D floor plans, room specs, slideshows, and alternate interfaces designed for various device sizes. Click the images below to see each of them

austin convention center virtual tour   pec_screen

 

 

KU Athletics launches Jayhawks360

The University of Kansas asked Circlescapes to help them bring their athletics facilities to life online in 360 degrees.  The result?  http://jayhawks360.kuathletics.com/

This was the largest single tour we’ve ever worked on.  12 sports.  75 panoramas.

In addition to giving KU fans a behind the scenes look at the athletics program they love, it also gives coaches a tool to use in recruiting.  Now, the coaches can sit down with prospective athletes and give them a first-hand look at the campus, dorms, training rooms, team rooms, and venues – from anywhere in the world.

 

 

What type of virtual campus tour is right for your school?

So you’re a boarding or day school and you’re thinking about adding a virtual tour to your marketing toolbox.   Good idea!

A virtual tour is great because . . .

  • The web is first point of access for most businesses and may be for your potential students and their families, or future employees, trustees or partners
  • You need to get your school on a potential student’s “A list” so they are inspired to come and see the campus in person
  • Chances are your school has spent a lot of money, time and effort on the campus and its facilities – you can convey this online with a campus tour
  • You can reach international students who may not be able to visit before making a decision
  • You can use the tour in recruiting events for students or staff, as well as in fundraising efforts

What are the different forms a tour can take and what are the pros and cons of each?

Type Pros Cons
Video tour
  • Easy to post/share on social media like YouTube
  • User experience is completely controlled
  • Expensive to create and makes changes to
  • Linear, not interactive
  • Likely that you will lose user before the end
  • Usually can’t be created in-house
Web page with pictures and text/photo gallery
  • Inexpensive to create; can likely be done in-house
  • User can jump around
  • Static, boring
  • It is hard to get the bird’s eye view of campus
Campus map with links to still images/captions
  • User gets a better idea of overall campus
  • User can jump around
  • Feels a little more interactive than a photo gallery
  • Usually not a self contained piece so user has to keep closing windows
  • Not immersive
360-degree virtual tour
  • User gets to control the experience with multiple ways to navigate
  • You can incorporate elements from other media (voice overs, maps, slideshows, etc)
  • Self contained marketing piece
  • It is immersive with the ability to look all around the space – even capturing an active moment in time
  • Much less expensive than a professionally created video tour
  • Usually can’t be created in-house
  • More expensive that a static tour

 

Questions to ask yourself when planning for your virtual campus tour:

  • What is your budget?
  • How will you use it?
    • Only online or will you use it at school fairs, presentations, admissions people on the road?
  • Do you want it embedded in your website or as a separate module?
  • Do you want to have students/people in the shot or no people in the shot?
  • Do you want people to be able to see it on smart phones and tablets?
  • Do you want it to be linear and controlled like a video or self directed and explorable where people can pick and choose where they want to go?
  • How much of your campus do you want to show?
  • Who is your audience for the tour?
    • Students interesting in your Athletics or other specific programs? Internationals? Donors?
  • Do you need your tour localized into multiple languages?
  • Do you want your tour to be focused in on key areas of recruitment – so would need multiple tours or a tour with different segments?
  • Does the city that you are in play any kind of a role?
    • Do you want to show scenes from the city or highlight things to do off campus?

 If you decide to go with a Circlescapes 360 virtual tour – we also ask:

  • How many locations on campus you want to feature?
  • What additional options do you want?
    • informational hotspots
      • text (different from text descriptions that come standard with Deluxe/Premium)
      • image
      • combo text and image
      • external link
    • directional hotspots
    • audio hotspot
      • sound effect
      • music
      • voice blurb
    • video hotspot (best when out on YouTube, Vimeo)
    • voice over narration
    • slideshows
    • sharing – social media hotspot or feature
  • What navigational constructs do you want?
    • campus map
    • thumbnail images
    • list/legend
    • forward and backward buttons

We can answer any questions you have about virtual tours!  Give us a call or  send us an email today!

Also, don’t forget about our special “3 Free Spins” offer!

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3 Free Spins – for a limited time!

Book a virtual tour with 10+ spins before the end of March 2015, and we’ll give you 3 extra spins FREE!  That’s $750 bucks saved.

And you’ll get an awesome 360° virtual tour that people around the world can look at on their computers, tablets and smartphones.  WHAT A DEAL!

Click the coupon below to email us, and let’s get started!

coupon