Virtual tours in the hospitality industry are commonly used as tools in the marketing and sales activities of hotels. They have proven to be a good way of introducing spaces of varying sizes, e.g. hotel rooms and meeting spaces, to customers.
In this new series of blog posts, we will explore aspects of sales tools for hotels from different perspectives. This first blog post in the series highlights some issues with virtual tours, and their life cycle in relation to ordinary sales tools.
According to Wikipedia, A virtual tour is a simulation of an existing location, usually composed of a sequence of videos or still images. It may also use other multimedia elements such as sound effects, music, narration, and text.
Virtual tours in the hospitality industry are commonly used as tools in the marketing and sales activities of hotels. They have proven to be a good way of introducing spaces of varying sizes, e.g. hotel rooms and meeting spaces, to customers. Some virtual tours have also additional so-called wow-effects in them to better catch the attention of the potential customer, such as opening animations, etc. Their value in the tour lies mostly – if not solely – in their wow-effect.
In the short term, these single wow-effect virtual tours generate initial wow-differentiation, a lot of attention and heightened expectations of ongoing benefits. However, in the eyes of the customer, the novelty and differentiation will quite soon start to wear off. These types of wow-effect reliant virtual tours soon become boring to regular users – even annoying. At some point in time, most venues have something similar, and the benefit is just not there anymore. This may lead to investing in the next marketing gimmick, resulting in a low marketing Return On Investment. See Figure 1.
Figure 1 Standalone virtual tour lifecycle in marketing and sales
On the other hand, if the virtual tour solution is part of a practical, everyday sales tool, which supports the marketing and sales activities of the hotel, the situation changes completely. A well-designed sales tool solution builds on the best aspects of the virtual tour and allows the addition of new use cases and functionality over time. This in turn will result in a higher ROI. See Figure 2.
Figure 2 Sales tool lifecycle and growth path
In the upcoming Best Practices blog post series, we will go through a number of practical cases how we have seen hotels reap the full benefits of a virtual tour as a part of a sales tool. Stay tuned!