The pandemic has certainly affected student housing business operations across the globe in many unprecedented ways. One crucial process that has been impacted is the campus tour. Admissions and housing departments alike need to develop alternate marketing strategies to showcase key campus facilities for prospective students and their families. A 2017 report by APPA – Leadership in Educational Facilities notes that “Students are deeply influenced by their first impression of a campus; multiple surveys of college-bound students point to the campus visit as the most significant factor in choosing an institution.”
Being able to showcase your facilities, particularly student housing, will help you to meet your recruitment and retention goals. Virtual tours of campus facilities are a smart and economical way to allow prospective students and their families to get a “first look” without actually stepping foot on campus. Because my campus was planning on pausing in-person tours of the residence halls due to COVID safety measures, I partnered with Vivid Media to develop an immersive, virtual tour experience for current and prospective students to view residence hall room options.
Through this platform, students and their families can explore the residence hall rooms in more detail to see the various amenities and conveniences that are offered. The virtual tours feature each building with the option to explore each room type as well as the common areas, including study lounges, recreation rooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. In each specific building tour, visitors can click into a menu in the upper left-hand corner of the viewer to choose what type of area they would like to explore. Each room type and area is specifically listed. Additionally, there are four different viewing options to use, including the following: Explore 3D Space, Dollhouse View, Floorplan View, and Measurements. These options can be toggled by clicking on the corresponding icons on the bottom left-hand corner of the viewer. Hovering over each icon with the mouse arrow will indicate what each icon represents. The menu options will change dependent upon the current view that is showing.
Explore 3D Space | Dollhouse View | Measurements
Dollhouse View | Floorplan View | Measurements
Explore 3D Space
In this view, you can literally explore the area by clicking and progressing throughout the room as if you are actually there. Also, if you left-click and hold on the mouse, you can spin the view in all directions. The faint circles on the floor indicate the vantage point from that particular spot.
The Dollhouse View permits you to view the areas as if it were an dollhouse model. Again, if you left-click and hold on the mouse, you can spin the view in all directions. This is beneficial because it gives you a sense of the spaciousness of the room.
The floorplan view gives you a simplistic overhead shot of the room that is being explored. This view can be used in conjunction with the “Measurements” option to manually click on any two areas to take a measurement. This is helpful so students and their parents can make measurements of the rooms for various furnishing and decoration considerations.
The process of working with the Vivid Media staff was easy and pre-planned prior to their coming to campus to film the dozens of different residence hall areas. My staff decorated each of the suite rooms and bathrooms ahead of time so that they were fully cleaned and prepared for Vivid Media to film. The actual filming process took less than one full working day, and I worked with their team afterward to develop the link naming conventions for each of the particularly buildings and associated suites and common areas. Once the virtual tours were completed, I was able to simply add the links to our existing housing webpage so that visitors can easily access each building’s tour.
To find out more about Vivid Media and to view examples from their student housing portfolio, visit https://www.tours.vividmediany.com/education/
Helfrich Advisory Services, LLC is a boutique consultancy that specializes in college and university Housing Operations and Residence Life development, including the public-private partnership (P3) market. With 20-years of professional experience, my mission is to be a leading provider of affordable and practical solutions for the college and university student housing industry.