Virtual Tours and Senior Living Communities : When to consider them
Updated: Jun 23
Time is our most precious resource, each and every one of us determines how to spend it on a daily basis, what it is worth, and ultimately, what it isn't worth. Finding ways to save time, not only your own, but that of your teams, your families, your clients, and customers, is an essential practice we all need to implement each and every day. Not only because its the right thing to do, but because your competition is.
Anything we have then, that has an ability to save time (our or others) should be viewed as a highly lucrative opportunity worth looking into.
Enter Virtual Tours, an ability to travel somewhere instantly, take a quick walk-though, learn a little bit along the way and move onto the next opportunity or experience within minutes.
What are Virtual Tours for Senior Housing?
Virtual Tours are experiences that can be had of a facility, location or event remotely, away from the place at a time and location that is of the viewers choosing. No driving, no appointments needed, no time wasted. Let me reiterate that, no one has wasted their time.
These can be for specific amenities, location, rooms, full tours . . . if you can stand in a location, you can create a virtual tour for it.
Imagine working with an elderly parent that needs to move into a memory care facility. While nothing will ever beat an in person tour, if you have the ability, at your fingertips to tour your top 15 facilities in a matter of minutes, and narrow it down to the top 5 to visit, everyone wins.
Or perhaps you are a community director for a large senior living community, you always want in person tours, we fully understand that, nothing beats if for closing a deal. Virtual Tours are never meant to replace an in person tour, instead, capture opportunities that you may not have had otherwise as well as keep you relevant since your competition is using them. Remember, this is not about changing your sales process, its about capturing more leads and helping showcase your facility in a way that saves your clients time.
Why Virtual Tours Matter for Client, and their Families?
We live in an ever evolving world, one that needs information faster and more readily available than ever before. This trend is not going away, its steadily increasing, keeping up with this is important.
As people evolve to take in more data, quicker, they ultimately make larger decisions more rapidly. While this is not overall bad, it does put technology at the forefront of the decision making process, and giving people everything they need to make those decisions, and the correct decisions means the difference between a new resident and a lost opportunity.
Allowing someone or their family members to virtually walk through a facility, "meet" community and activity directors, witness events that make you unique, help shape how they proceed. It creates a comfort level, a familiarity and a connection that did not exist before. It ties them in a little deeper, and gives them a greater sense of comfort in the decision that they are ultimately making.
Not only can you save them time and increase their comfort level, but you have now given them a bar in which all other communities are compared to. If after touring three or four facilities, they can always use the virtual tour as a quick comparison to make sure they are making the correct decision moving forward.
If, conversely, they have already toured one a handful of communities, and are close to making a decision and they come across a virtual tour, it costs them no time or energy to simply watch a virtual tour, and decide if they would like to tour it in person. As a virtual tour is an opportunity to put a best foot forward, it may convince this person to come in for the in person tour even if they were close to making a decision already.
Types of Virtual Tours - Know what you are getting
360 Photos - This is the most basic of all, it is a photo that is taken in a 360 Panorama, stitched together to create a single image. There is no motion, no movement, its simply a photo of everything around.
Matterport - A far more advanced version of the 360 photo, this is the first thing we would consider a Virtual Tour. Matterport takes photos from multiple sections of a property to create a full walk-though complete with floor plans and a doll house view, great for showcasing the basic layout and structure of a property
360 Video - Video filmed in a 360 degree field of view, stitched together to create a seamless experience for that particular location. With 360 video you can have music, audio tracks, and voice overs. These are especially handy if you want to add a personal touch of "Why our Community"
3D 360 Video - Much like the experience above, however a more intricate process. These experiences are primarily designed for headset displays. If this is something your team thinks they would like to implement at any point in the future, planning for this up front means you do not need to re-film anything down the road. The beauty of this is that is should not cost much more, if anything, to create this at the same time as the 360 video above
Full 360 Self Guided Virtual Tour - These are a combination of components of all of the above with interactive elements that allow the user to take their own tour of a location however they want.
Asking upfront what kind of experience you will be getting, and how it is produced will let you know the overall quality of the final production.
For example, with our 3D productions we film in 8K x 8K with a cinema quality virtual reality setup. Videos filmed in 4k x 2K will have a lower overall quality to them and have a shorter shelf life.
Why does it matter?
This is not about changing how business is done, nor is it about replacing in person tours, this is about saving time, and generating more interest sooner. If a Virtual Tour can get a family member to an in-person tour one month sooner, that is one more month that a room is occupied.
Another benefit that often goes unnoticed is the added familiarity with a property one received after taking a virtual tour of a facility. They know what to expect, they know why they are there, and ultimately, they are more prepared to make a decision . . . this is effectively their second tour.
On the flip side, for a perspective resident, their are few surprises, they have seen it all already, and while their may be a few minor differences depending on season, time of day, and time since the virtual tour was completed, overall, they are much less likely to walk in disappointed or uneasy. They know what they are looking at.
Should you offer virtual tours?
Like most things, analyzing this question comes down to a number of factors of whether or not it is important, and how important it is. If a community has little competition in a marketplace and almost always has a waiting list, for the time being, there is likely little reason to consider a virtual tour.
However, this is usually not the case.
The greater the competition there is, the more need there is to find ways to stand above the crowd, or at least stand shoulder to shoulder with them.
If all the communities in your area offer virtual tours, and yours does not, do you lose out on potential residents, and how many? If you do, how many is acceptable?
If your competition doesn't offer virtual tours, and you do, do you potentially win more in person tours? Do you capture a greater interested and excitement?
If family members often are making a decision for their parents, would it be helpful to them to see a virtual tour to have a conversation? This could then allow a smaller group arriving at the facility, making scheduling and planning on their end easier.
Do family members making these decisions live nearby? If not, does a virtual tour offer them an opportunity to tour a community remotely to make a quicker decision for mom or dad?
Does your community have a fear of virus spread? Or will you limit tour sizes, number of tours etc? Virtual Tours are a great way to combat the fear associated with the spread of COVID. It keeps fewer people touring the facility, fewer person to person contacts . . . everyone wins.
There are a host of reasons to consider adding a virtual tour to your marketing plan, the above are simply the prime reasons our clients consider using them
What should they cost?
This greatly comes down to the package that is required and what you need, location, facility size and number of facilities (if a package is ordered).
Knowing how you want to use the content, and what you want to use it for is the most important step here. There are a number of up-sells and "offerings" that sound great at the time, however long term add little benefit over how the majority of communities use virtual tours.
Primary use of content we have found is on websites and social media. With a few looking to use content for personal visits. Communities want something clients can click on, take a tour and watch a quick few videos to get a sense of a place before scheduling their tour. This also works for social media posts like Facebook and YouTube. Here, 360 video productions and a self guided experience should suit most needs perfectly fine. For us, this is then a simple video production, depending on the size of the facility its a full day of filming with our crew, three weeks of editing, post production and creating a virtual tour.
Some companies offer subscription models, but most tend to run in the $500-$900 per month, not including setup costs. While these seem like a decent deal up front, it doesn't take long before these monthly costs over-run what an upfront cost would have been. Its also important to note, that with a subscription cost, their may be limits on how the content is used and distributed, and ultimately what happens with the content if the subscription is canceled. The question that must be asked, how long is the contract for, and what happens to the content if we no longer want to pay a monthly fee?
We on the other hand charge a standard flat rate, with a base price starting at $4,500 for a facility under 100 doors (rate for travel may apply), and offer a 15% discount bookings of 4 or more facilities up front. Here, once final payment is made, the content is yours, and there are not additional costs unless further projects are needed.
Conclusion : Not a simple Yes or No
As with most things, there is no simple answer on whether or not a community should offer a virtual tour, they are simply tools to help both you, your team, and your perspective residents (and their families) save time, and ultimately, money. How much of both depends on the community itself, but if a Virtual Tour could help you do either, or both . . . it is worth the consideration
However, as virtual tours begin to take a larger foothold in the industry, and become the norm, not offering one as part of a media package can potentially put a community a step behind its competition. Virtual Tours are not a matter of it, simply when.
If you have Questions, please let us know
We have been filming Virtual Tours for over 5 years, have worked on hundreds of real estate projects and know our way around the industry. We are always happy to help.
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