April 25, 2020

Are Virtual Tours finally going to see an increase in adoption during the lockdown?

Muhammad Okunade

The COVID-19 pandemic has come with a devastating effect on most sectors of the economy. The Real Estate sector is one of those hit hardest by the lockdown. Construction has been halted on all sites, developments are being stalled as a result of the exchange rate volatility and agents are having difficulty closing deals. While some aspects of Real Estate may remain shutdown, some others such as property viewings and showroom tours might have a way around the unforeseen circumstances on ground. This is where virtual tours come in.

Tour of Smile360 Clinic by 360 Humans
Tour of Smile360 Clinic by 360 Human

A virtual tour is a computer simulation of an actual tour of a physical building or outdoor area. Virtual tours aim to create immersive experiences so viewers feel like they are visitors physically present in the actual places. It is usually composed of a sequence of videos or still images. Virtual tours are good alternatives when there are constraints to being physically present in the location. 

Virtual tours could be in the form of regular videos recorded in the sequence which would have ordinarily been followed during the physical tour of the space or could come in the form of interactive 360° videos which are recorded using a collection of cameras at the same time or an omnidirectional camera which can capture every direction at the same time. There are usually controls attached to the video which allows viewers to zoom, pan and move around the area. This is the most common form virtual tours take. Virtual reality or VR is another form tours could take. Virtual Reality is an emerging technology that offers immersive experiences through VR headsets and other specialised gear that allow viewers navigation within the content. Virtual Reality also has the advantage of allowing users to interact with the environment they are inside. This could allow prospective occupant customise spaces to their taste in real-time and see how those spaces could adjust to their needs. It also allows design consultants and developers to review conceptual designs and have an experience of the building before moving to construction.

Design Review using Virtual Reality. Source: TEBIN
Design Review using Virtual Reality. Source: TEBIN

Virtual tours are already being deployed in a variety of industries including Real Estate and Hospitality for property inspections by potential occupants or buyers and in Architecture where they are used for design reviews. Retailers in the furniture and fittings space are also exhibiting products in their showrooms using virtual tours. Virtual tours also enable travel enthusiasts view their favorite destinations from their devices. 

According to Yemisi Akinyemi of 360Human, there has been more interest in virtual tours by real estate companies during this lockdown and they have been able to close a couple of deals as a result. In response to the increased demand of virtual tours by developers and agents, PropertyBase was created. It is a listing platform which allows prospective buyers tour and indicate interest in any listed property on the spot. This speeds up the entire process and allows developers to show and  sell their properties without leaving their homes. Business has been good so far during this period for the company and she expects this trend to continue when the lockdown ends. Other virtual tour service providers in Nigeria include Gidivirtualtours, ClymaxVisuals and CleecDesigns

Virtual tours help in saving costs and valuable time in going to the locations. They eliminate the need for logistics to manage large crowds or multiple individual sessions. They also have the potential of reaching far more people and help boost conversion. Virtual tours could also help companies stand out from competition. There are some potential concerns to be wary of however. Fraudulent agents could take buyers on a virtual tour of a property and sell them an entirely different one. Virtual tour providers could also close deals they are not authorised to using the recordings they made as bait. There have also been some reported health cases associated with frequent viewing of virtual reality content.

 

Final words

Virtual tours are a great way to experience spaces from the comfort of your device and with the continued development of virtual reality along with the emergence of augmented reality, the future of virtual tours looks promising. Also, the current restriction in movement due to the COVID-19 lockdown makes a great case for the adoption of virtual tours by Real Estate developers, property agents and vendors.

 

Never been on a virtual tour before and want to experience one? Check out this cool tour of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja by GidiVirtualTours and this 5-bedroom Duplex at Bera Estate by 360Human for free.

 

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