When asked by InsideHigherEd what content and features they desire in virtual campus tours, students are very clear with their top choices:
- Interactive Campus Map
- Video Tour
- Video of Residence Halls
- Video of Dining Halls
- Video of Classrooms
- Interaction with a Student Tour Guide
CampusTours surveys of prospective students have nearly identical responses to those shown above, with students rating interactive maps, video tours and video tour guides as the top three important things universities should include in virtual tours. Interestingly, the most common virtual tour type (panoramic images) is not something that students mention often in describing their ideal virtual tours.
“Students really want a comprehensive and authentic virtual tour presentation,” says CampusTours founder and President Chris Carson. “Simply throwing up a series of panoramic images no longer satisfies this video-first generation. In fact, CampusTours has been recommending for several years now that when colleges implement panoramic images, they should pair the panoramic images with video tour guides (actual students) to help explain to the visitor what they are seeing, and why this location is central to student life. In our student focus groups, panoramic experiences that let the user ‘wander freely’ through campus and buildings score lower than simple YouTube video tours! The reason is that these experiences lack coherence, focus and leave students wondering if they may have missed something in their tour. CampusTours endeavors to make our tours extremely simple and straightforward for students (and parents), and this leads to much higher visitor satisfaction scores. Finally, CampusTours student surveys continue to point out that ’embedding’ content into panoramic images (videos, photos, navigation etc.) often results in visitors missing key messages. More than 80% of students and parents missed at least one piece of content on each tour stop when the content was ’embedded’ into the panoramic image.”
The message to colleges and universities is clear – focus on building compelling virtual tours that include interactive maps, video tours of important locations (residence halls, dining halls, classrooms etc.), and whenever possible include video tour guides and authentic video student commentaries. Don’t make your tours too complex or force visitors to wander aimlessly as both of these lead to lower visitor satisfaction scores.