Committing to a university is not a small undertaking and with so many factors to consider, virtual experiences are one of the finest ways to give prospective students insights into the qualities of your institution.
The best virtual open days and online tours communicate what separates that institution from its competitors, uniquely and powerfully, playing on the strength of a university's culture and the student experience.
Following our blog on creating an award-winning virtual open day experience, we've scoured the web to track down five of the best examples to give you inspiration for your institution.
The University of Sydney - using aspirational dialogue to convert potential students
While many virtual tours feel sterile and empty, often being filmed out of hours, the University of Sydney's virtual tour bucks this trend and stands out for its unique combination of time-lapse footage and inspirational dialogue delivered by existing students.
The video gets across how vibrant the campus feels, and visitors can quickly jump between the different sections of content or sit back and play the entire overview. The overall feeling you get is one of confidence, inspiration, and authenticity.
This institution is clearly aware of the power of its virtual tour experience since a section on the homepage is dedicated to promoting it to visitors.
Seattle University - providing a compelling narrative provided by a student ambassador on campus
This virtual experience is powered by You Visit, which has a winning formula for immersive tour content.
Calls to action are presented at the top of the screen regardless of the content being viewed, and the features are plentiful with options to navigate using the map, and around the selected locations.
Bringing the experience together is a student ambassador superimposed over the content, providing a useful guide for visitors across the locations and scenes covered by the tour.
The University of Sussex - delivering insights from groups of existing students in a conversational format
Many online tours are negatively affected by bandwidth, but the University of Sussex puts control in visitors hands by allowing them to select the quality level at the outset.
The experience once you enter is unique. A film of the campus automatically plays while you navigate to content about socializing, living in Brighton, sports, recreation, and accommodation.
The magic ingredient here is the dialogue from groups of students, which plays while you view scenes from various areas of the campus. It feels like you're listening in on natural conversations. They bring an authentic voice and unique insights that prospective students will appreciate in helping them assess what it would be like to attend the University.
Swinburne University of Technology - letting the visitor take control through 360-degree images and film
This virtual tour feels like a microsite and is really effective at showing off the campus and student experience through timelapse and slow motion content panning across various scenes.
Many virtual tour experiences still lack clear calls to actions, but Swinburne University has wonderfully simple navigation and logical flow to content with options to get in touch, find courses, and to register.
For prospective students interested in technology, it will be a joy to take control of 360-degree images and video content to get inside views of the labs and technology-infused spaces.
Manchester Metropolitan University - using student ambassador videos to deliver content for each faculty
Manchester Met's virtual tour is really unique in how it guides the visitor. The opening screen invites you to scroll, and as you do so, the walkthrough begins, taking the prospective student along a defined path to meet various student ambassadors in different areas of the campus. This journey is provided on a timeline at the top of the page too so users can take control themselves.
The clever twist is that each faculty has a corresponding student ambassador video which visitors can jump to depending on their course preferences. This makes the content feel more relevant to them.
The experience presents a logical journey, which culminates with a screen requesting prospective students to register their details on a simple form.
Virtual tours are changing the way universities recruit
This group of top rated virtual experiences shows us how to create an authentic student voice, showcase facilities through video with high-quality production values, and provide logical flows into other relevant information on courses, facilities, fees, and accommodation.
But this is just the beginning. There are scores of exciting developments emerging from full HD virtual reality, integrated live chat, automated chatbots, to embedded social media feeds. In combination, they can create even more depth to virtual experiences, and the future looks bright for this crucial student touch point.
How will your virtual open day or virtual tour connect with tomorrow's students to support their application decision? We'd love to hear.