July 9, 2021

5 Things to Ask Your Virtual Tour Agency Before Hiring Them

Photo by Thomas AE on Unsplash

Many businesses are catching on to the power of virtual tours and the impact they can have as a marketing strategy. 360 virtual tours are known to increase the number of clicks on your website, improve your position on a search engine results page and have proven to boost ROI. Industries from real estate to hospitality are jumping on the bandwagon of hiring a virtual tour agency as part of their marketing strategy especially with the shift in our current socially distanced world where virtual communication is dominating our society. As a client, one may not be completely familiar with how a virtual tour shoot is carried out and as a buyer, it is important to know all the needed information before hiring the perfect agency. Here is a guide to help you along before setting up a virtual tour in Singapore.

Why choosing a quality agency is important

It’s always common for buyers to approach agencies with cheaper rates but in the case of virtual tours, cheaper definitely does not mean better. Shooting a 360 virtual tour in Singapore is a personal and customised service and a good agency should be able to create a virtual tour that speaks and sells your brand. However, if you choose the most affordable agency that does not attempt to understand your brand, you may have to fork out even more money to get your virtual tour redone. Some agencies may be pricier than others but you’ll have more confidence that you’re placing your marketing budget into a reliable and quality service. Professional and skilled agencies come with a holistic set of skills, which include the technicalities of using a camera, advising the client the best way to shoot their space as well as ideating suitable interactive features to cater to the client’s goals. Here are some questions you should ask a trusted virtual tour agency in Singapore before diving into a project.

1. What kind of software do you use?

Besides photography skills, a professional virtual tour agency should also have the relevant programming skills to create the most effective, engaging and customisable tour for your brand and website. More affordable agencies may sometimes use standard templates to programme your virtual tour. These templates are similar to sites like WIX or Squarespace, which limit personalisation. These fixed templates only offer a limited design and interface, which may not suit your brand. However, highly skilled agencies will have more experience and proficiency in sophisticated software such as krpano and programming languages like HTML and JavaScript. These programmes can create customisable products for more complex projects that may also require 3D rendering through modelling software and rendering engine such as 3ds Max and Lumion respectively. 

By enquiring about the software a virtual tour agency uses, it is much easier to tell a quality and skilled agency apart from an average one especially if your project requires elaborate designing.

2. What equipment do you use?

Depending on the space, the virtual tour agency may choose to use different equipment and it’s important for a buyer to know the basics of the cameras used. The most common types of equipment used are DSLR cameras and Matterport Pro2 Camera. Both these cameras have their advantages and limitations and will be chosen according to your space and goals. A DSLR camera stitches panoramic images together to create a 360 view of the room. It offers incredibly crisp and clear images that can also be edited post-production. It can also render spaces that have yet to be built and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor venues. 

In comparison, the Matterport technology is not as customisable as a DSLR camera when it comes to editing the images or the UI/UX interface. Matterport cameras are also not suitable for outdoor lighting but a massive advantage is that they have an added “3D Dollhouse View” feature that allows you to have a bird’s eye view of the space.

Overall, a professional agency will have the expertise to advise you on a suitable camera so make enquiries before you book them.

3. Should my venue be empty when the space is being photographed?

This is an important question especially if your venue is busy with employees and patrons walking in and out every day. Again, consult with your virtual tour agency and they will be able to give some advice. Usually, with 360 panoramic tours, faces can be blurred out during post-production but for a more professional and clean look, it is recommended to have the venue free of staff and clients.

4. How many virtual tours have you done for other businesses?

When it comes to any business, proof and reliability is the foundation when trusting another agency with your brand. You do not want your money to go to waste so asking for a portfolio of past projects is extremely important before hiring a virtual tour agency. To gauge if an agency provides a professional and quality service, here are some details to look out for. Whether it’s an indoor or outdoor venue, the lighting should not be too over or under-exposed but the space should be well-lit. Furthermore, transitions from one point to another should flow seamlessly without any delays. Some virtual tours also come with added embedded features like hotspots and infoboxes, but sometimes an agency may add extra unnecessary features, which may complicate the tour and even cost more money. Lastly, look out for client satisfaction through personal reviews of past projects.  

5. What is the time frame to get the final product?

While every agency is different, the average time it takes to shoot a venue can range from 30 minutes to an hour for a single panorama. Once the shoot is over, it will take the agency a few days to stitch and edit the images, together with a team that will work on the different interfaces of the site as well as any added features. Once the post-production work is over, your virtual tour will be published through a URL in a couple of days. 

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

There is a reason why visual content such as videos and interactive tours are doing well to help market and bring in a bigger audience. These types of content are attractive and engaging, which is a great tool for an online marketing strategy. As virtual tour photography can come with a few technical details, it is always important to enquire with a variety of agencies before picking the company that suits your brand’s needs.