Huge Demand For 360° Virtual Tours

The global trend of adding virtual tours and images to business websites is now taking off in in the Bay of Plenty, with demand across all industries growing by the day.

ScanView, based in Mount Maunganui, is the only company in the Bay of Plenty delivering customized 360° virtual tours for businesses which allow people to explore any given space from the convenience of their laptop, tablet or smart phone.

ScanView owner Mike Watt began operating in Tauranga and Rotorua last year but is now expanding to Waikato and Auckland on the back of phenomenal growth.

His impressive client list already includes Skyline Rotorua, ASB Arena, Experience Comvita, Olive Tree Cottage, ClubFit Baywave, the Redwoods Treewalk, KitchensRUS, Princes Gate Hotel, Cutters Cove Resort Apartments, Whakarewarewa – The Living Maori Village, Tamaki Maori Village, Te Puia and the Ellerslie Event Centre.

Businesses focus a lot of time and effort preparing their physical premises to attract customers but often that’s not replicated online where today’s consumer is making their decisions about where to book and spend their money,” Watt explains.

“The interactive virtual tours give customers the best view of a business and the added confidence to visit or make a booking. You can step directly inside any type of business including tourism attractions, hotel rooms and restaurants, to view it as if you were standing there in person.”

Independent research conducted for Google in 2015 showed those who view a business listing with a virtual tour are twice as likely to make a booking, while millennial customers (aged 18-34) are 130 per cent more likely to book if a virtual tour is available for them to see first.

ClubFit Baywave manager Stu Stevenson says leading fitness businesses worldwide all now have a ‘virtual’ element to their websites, and 360° tours are essential.

“People are often looking for certain pieces of equipment or certain size spaces to exercise in. A virtual tour allows everyone on a smart phone or tablet to make a buying decision before they even turn up. That’s the age we’re living in now. If you’re serious about showcasing your business you have to be able to do that effectively online.”

ClubFit’s virtual tour was filmed and uploaded in March. “We think over time it will definitely make a difference to the amount of people who turn up, ready to go.”

ASB Arena business development manager Gillian Houser says having 360° virtual tours of the different event and conference spaces available has been “vital in building our business”.

“It has allowed us to showcase our venue to perspective clients assisting in bookings, floor plans, AV and lighting. It’s ideal for people at a distance who haven’t yet had the opportunity to have a site visit. It just helps describe the venue a lot more than a standard photo and assists in the early negotiating and planning process.”

Aside from reaching new customers on their own website, businesses can also increase their visibility on Facebook and Google. The 360° tours feature on Google’s main platforms including Google Search and Google Maps.

Olive Tree Cottage owner Lisa Patillo says the 360° images ScanView put together were “beautiful” and have helped boost her overall Google rankings. Over 8000 people have viewed their virtual tour off their Google Maps listing alone.

“The tour allows brides who are overseas or outside Tauranga to see our venue as a whole and how it flows, not just snapshots of the place. It gives them greater confidence when making a booking,” she says.

Watt says Bay of Plenty businesses are also boosting their social media following, with clients reaching tens of thousands of people when they post a 360° image on their Facebook page.

“Our virtual tours are proving to be a huge hit on social media. Customers like the Redwoods Treewalk in Rotorua are getting a lot of positive feedback on their Facebook page every time they share a 360° image where users can click and drag the images in the posts. It’s proving to be very shareable content and enabling businesses to extend their reach to a new audience.”