Building Compelling and Differentiated Virtual Tours

The George Washington University Virtual Tour was awarded the 2014 Best College/University Site Webby Award

What Differentiates Virtual Campus Tours?  In this era of digital admissions, how do colleges stand out from their competitors?

CampusTours has worked with hundreds of colleges, non-profits and government agencies since 1997 to develop online institutional explorations.  We ask:  If choosing a college is a fundamentally different decision than buying a house or renting an apartment, why do so many virtual campus tours bear a striking similarity to apartment and home virtual tours?
When choosing a college, the importance of the actual campus visit experience is heralded far and wide as the truest indicator of whether a student will “fit” with the culture and community at any particular institution.  This isn’t because students gravitate to different styles of architecture, but rather because they feel a kinship with the student body and faculty at one institution over another.  Therefore, CampusTours virtual tours feature your iconic campus structures, and also include student and faculty commentaries that give your visitors a sense for the culture and community that inhabit those ivy-covered halls.
CampusTours research indicates that student interests drive their pursuit of information on college Web sites and in virtual campus tours.  So theater majors are going to gravitate to the Performing Arts stop on your tour, and having additional videos, photos, panoramic images and links to related resources on Performing Arts is key if you want to grab and hold their attention.
Finally, nothing has the ability to encapsulate and represent the appeal of your institution – the prospective student’s future world – better than a photorealistic map of campus.  The remarkable clarity and eye-popping detail of your campus presents an irresistible opportunity to the prospective student, far more enthralling than other parts of your Web experience.  At many institutions the interactive map and virtual tour rank among the top pages on the university Website.
So to distinguish your virtual campus tour from the rest, consider what it is that sets you apart as an institution and then use your virtual tour as a platform to emphasize those distinctive qualities. Through student and faculty video commentaries, the inclusion of copious amounts of additional media for exploration and a compelling campus depiction, you can make a truly differentiated statement about your college or university.

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