360 photo tours have been around for some while – I’ve been carrying them out since January 2019 – and despite the push to video, 360 photo tours offer significant benefits over other media.
360 photo tours biggest advantage must be its user’s interactive experience: Unlike video or still images, visitors get to interact with the environment: They can pan, zoom, and navigate through the space at their own pace, providing a more immersive experience than other media.
360 photo tour of a new build flat in Rochester, Kent, UK
Linked to this interactive experience is the ability to link several scenes together as a virtual walkthrough: Viewers virtually “walk” through a property as if they were physically present. This helps them get a better sense of the layout, flow, and spatial relationships between rooms, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the property. Many 360 photos tours allow viewers to view in a virtual reality headset where the experience is as if you are actually in the property.
Of course you can view property in a video and for many that will be enough – but it means viewers have to view the material in the predetermined sequence set by the editor or (heaven forfend!) the estate agent. 360 photo tours give users control over what they see. They can focus on specific areas of interest, skip sections, or revisit particular spaces as needed. Additionally, with the ability to zoom in on high resolution material, viewers can see enhanced details of elements such as architectural features, brick-work and roof tiles.
Engagement and Retention: The interactive nature of a 360 photo tour tends to increase user engagement and retention. Potential buyers or renters are more likely to spend time exploring the property in detail, increasing the chances of a positive impression. Link this to a call to action such as an email or a telephone call means viewers are more likely to reach out to the owner or agent of that property over others.
For some people a 360 photo tour means better Time Efficiency: I have architectural clients that use the quality images in tours as a virtual visual inspection tool so the architect doesn’t have to frequently revisit the site. Not just saving time, but money too.
Cost-Effective Production: While producing high-quality videos can be resource-intensive, creating a 360 photo tour is usually a more cost-effective solution. The technology required for capturing and displaying 360-degree images is becoming increasingly accessible; for example, it’s possible to use a smart phone camera and specialised (low cost) software when creating the individual 360 photos. This tends to be a slower process over a dedicated 360 camera, but the results are certainly acceptable for many instances.
360 photo tours therefore provide unique and engaging ways of presenting properties, offering benefits in terms of interactivity, user control, and a more immersive experience compared to traditional still images or videos.