The Ups And Downs of Virtual Tours — Should Your Tour Guide Business Have One?

Virtual tourism is a way to provide an immersive experience of any destination with the help of technology — one can walk around and explore any location without visiting it in person, using their mobile phones, laptop screen, or a virtual reality headset.  Since a virtual tour is created using a combination of still images, video, audio, narration, and other virtual reality elements, it delivers an experience that one cannot get from browsing through images of a destination alone. 

Virtual reality vacations have undeniably become popular since 2020 as physical traveling came to a standstill during the pandemic. But now that restrictions have been eased and things are going back to the new normal, are virtual tours necessary for your tour guide business? Let’s find out.

What are the pros of offering virtual tour experiences?

Here are some key benefits of adding virtual tours to your list of offerings:

Deliver a high-quality experience 

Virtual tours can help tour companies deliver a better experience. Since tourists are no longer constrained by time or their physical ability to see a place, they can explore a location of their choice at their own pace, as long as they have access to the necessary software. 

Moreover, traveling physically to a popular destination often involves putting up with a huge crowd and unwanted noise that can put tourists in a foul mood. But that’s not the case with virtual tours — since they can enjoy any destination from the comfort of their home and not fight to be part of a crowd jostling for space, they are more likely to enjoy what they see. 

Target more travelers

A vast majority of travel enthusiasts are still cautious of traveling in the post-pandemic world. As a result, it is possible that tour guide companies may lose out on the business from their regular customers. 

But by offering virtual tours, they can target newer clientele — especially those tourists who otherwise would not be able to afford flight tickets or hotel costs to travel to their dream destinations.  Such tours can even help draw the interest of those travelers who might not otherwise consider visiting a particular location due to disabilities and limited mobility.

Market the business better

Creating digital tours of popular destinations can help tour guide businesses to stay ahead of the curve and market themselves better. One would no longer need to flip through pages of a physical travel brochure as virtual tour videos act as an interactive one that anyone can access anytime they want. Such tours can also give travelers a compelling reason to visit the locations in person as they provide a near-perfect visual of what the place looks like in reality and allow them to imagine themselves at a travel destination. 

In other words, by letting them ‘try out’ their holiday, tour companies can visually excite a traveler, create a more potential prospect, and increase the chances of receiving a booking. 

What are the cons of offering virtual tours?

Even though virtual tours are trending, they are not perfect. Here are some of the chief disadvantages of virtual tours:

Limited social interaction with travelers 

Humans are social beings who crave contact. At the end of the day, tour guide businesses are all about bringing like-minded travelers together and creating shared experiences. 

Virtual tours can make travel a very isolating experience and not give a chance to tour companies to allow tourists to experience a destination up close by immersing themselves into the culture, heritage, cuisine, and several other things that make a vacation special. 

The steep learning curve in setting up virtual tours 

Creating mesmerizing virtual tours is no cakewalk. 

Tour companies will need to invest in basic equipment and plan all the shots in advance in order to deliver a 5-star experience. To completely replicate a traditional tour experience where tour guides can easily interact with the guests, tour companies may also need to add a digital avatar that is available to interact with the users through a voiceover. Moreover, they may also need to record many different virtual tours and customize them to cater to the needs of different types of travelers.  

You can use an online video editor to easily resolve most of these challenges and make your recorded footage more engaging by adding filters, fun transitions, text, and background music. 

Is it time for your tour guide business to create virtual tours?

Tour operators worldwide have faced unprecedented revenue loss due to the pandemic and are constantly looking for ways to bounce back from the downturn. But it remains to be seen whether pivoting to virtual tours can genuinely make a difference to such businesses, given that digital tours can never become a replacement for visiting a place in person. 

Having said that, they can still be a valuable resource for marketing the business and targeting prospects who have not made up their minds about traveling to a destination. 

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