Live Virtual Tours: How to generate business during a lockdown

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the global tourism industry. But as in any crisis, opportunities will always appear. One way to keep your business afloat and retain some cash flow is through live virtual tours.  

Live virtual tours are a great way to show off your business to people who wanted to travel but now can't. People are stuck in their homes, phone in hand, looking for something to do. So why not offer a new way for them to engage with your business? 


Approaching virtual tours during COVID-19

For a live virtual tour, you'll need a practical set up to record your tour and allow interactive communication with your virtual guests. The live experience must feel authentic. You need to be able to answer questions throughout the tour.  

You don't need flashy equipment to record a virtual tour. Your phone will probably do the job. Depending on the environment you're recording in, you may want to invest in a lapel microphone to improve sound quality.

The key to making money here is volume. The more viewers, the better the return. And there's really no limit on how many viewers you can have participating.

With restrictions beginning to ease, people will be keen to get out and travel again. Think of virtual tours as more of a side hustle. They serve as a teaser where people can get a glimpse of what you have to offer.  


Tools to use 

  • Zoom – 'Zoom' is certainly a buzzword right now, and rightfully so, as it's super convenient for larger groups. For the ‘webinar’ option, you can offer a live virtual tour, answer questions, and create an event in your calendar. (TA Tip: to make things smoother using Zoom, have one team member acting as a guide taking the tour, and another team member answering guests' questions.)
  • Google Hangouts – This Google extension feels a little clunkier than Zoom. But it’s a convenient way to connect people as it simply uses Gmail. Also, it connects with Google Calendar, which makes it easy for guests to access the link.
  • Social Media – Live streaming is available on almost all social media platforms. Facebook Live, Instagram Live, LinkedIn Live, and Whatsapp Group are just some examples. However, these platforms are best used for teasers rather than full tours.  


Virtual tour ideas

There are lots of ways to implement a virtual tour experience in your business. Here are a few ideas worth trying.   

  • Attraction tours are an easy idea for tourism businesses. This type of virtual tour experience focuses on providing your audience with glimpses of attractions and points of interest in an area or destination. The guide works like a real physical tour, except that it's done virtually.  
    • When you finish the tour, don’t forget to send invite offers to your audience. This will encourage them to see the locations physically whenever possible.  Try not to be blatant with your marketing, though. Focus on educating your audience about the destination being featured and inciting their curiosity about it.  
  • You might want to showcase a part of your operation that guests wouldn't normally have access to. 'Backstage tours' are a great way to show parts of your business that are not usually public. In a winery, you could tour your cellar or barrel hall. If you run a wildlife sanctuary, you could show off private enclosures or your veterinary clinic.
  • Highlight your wonderful team members. Set up interviews with the people in your business. In a restaurant, this could be your visionary head chef. In a boat tour operation, your seafaring skipper. These people all have great stories to share and provide guests with insights into your business.

Marketing during this pandemic is a case of “out of sight, out of mind." This isn’t the time to be quiet; in fact, now is a great time to be doubling down on your marketing, to be ready when the market reopens.


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