Why Does It Cost Tens of Thousands of Dollars to Develop a Virtual Tour?
It is true that creating a new virtual tour or interactive map is not the cheapest marketing activity that you could do for your website. There is this belief that to do a map it costs tens of thousands of dollars. Although this isn’t necessarily untrue it doesn’t really tell the whole story. There are lots of pieces that must come together to make this project successful.
Costs vs. Value
Before we dive into the costs I think it is very important to take a step back and do a cost/value analysis. When someone says, “This project will cost X to complete. Is that too much money?” then they have already asked the wrong question. A big problem with the way most budgets are setup is it’s a spend it or lose it approach. There is no analysis on the return on investment.
It doesn’t matter if a tool or project costs $200 or $200,000. What you need to ask is does the value of doing this project far outweigh the costs of doing it. That is one of the reasons that we’ve created an Interactive Campus Map ROI Calculator.
Content Is King
We have all heard the saying that Content is King. This is an essential concept to understanding any web project, especially a virtual tour or interactive map. If your content is stale, wrong or not engaging then the project will ultimately be a failure. Just to be clear, when we are talking about content we refer to not just text but video, photography, audio, 360 panoramas and/or a map illustration. Because of this we always advise new customers and prospects that getting great content is the most important part of a successful tour. Content is also something that is tricky to put a price tag on. Most of our competitors make their money by selling you content services, mainly videography and photography.
Good videography and/or photography can absolutely make or break a successful virtual tour, but I’d argue that all things being considered it is usually best for you to do this yourself. Most schools have a photographer and/or videographer, and if they don’t then they have someone local who they work with on a regular basis. Simply put, you are probably going to get better and cheaper results from your local guy than someone flown in to create this content for you. Let’s not forget that your local person probably also has B-roll that can fill the gaps. This also holds true for videos with a tour guide. It’s more authentic to leverage your student ambassadors or tour guides for these videos anyway! We’ve seen some great examples of schools that let their students lead this video effort.
Remember, not only is content probably the most expensive part of this specific project, but you can bring most of it in-house to keep costs down. The one exception to this rule is usually the map illustration. Of course I’m also a little biased because we work with some of the greatest cartographers in the business. Cartography is not as popular of a specialty as a photographer, videographer or writer.
Time Is Money
We have talked about how content is king and it’s important to remember that creating content takes time. So if you do go down the step of creating it in-house then you should figure out how much this time is worth.
Software Is a Small Piece Of This Puzzle
So hopefully at this point you see that the software isn’t a big piece of this project. There are even some powerful free options out there like Google Map Maker. Of course nothing is free because even Google Map Maker has its own pros and cons. Where we have really tried to build our product and business is providing a powerful software solution with lots of customization to meet your specific needs. Software like this shouldn’t cost you tens of thousands of dollars and guess what… it doesn’t.
Interested in learning more? We’d be glad to setup a free consultation and tell you how we can help.
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