The Argument for Digitally-Enhanced Campus Tours

The Argument for Digitally-Enhanced Campus Tours

As the number of students expecting to attend colleges and universities increases year over year, many higher education institutions are (unsurprisingly) focusing on building welcome centers and campus tours that drive excitement for prospective students. Although welcome centers are most frequently visited by students, they are actually the first stop for many prospective students and their families, alumni, and other guests. First impressions are important; and as schools can make only one first impression, they are pulling out all the stops to make their campuses more enticing and friendly to newcomers.

College visits and tours are the undisputed champions of college recruiting tools and are key to convincing prospective students to apply and admitted students to commit. In the midst of mounting competition in student recruitment, schools are focusing on building central hubs and programs that reflect the heart and character of their respective campuses so visitors can envision themselves as a member of the community as soon as possible.

Welcome centers are vital because they serve as information portals for the rest of the campus. Any necessary information for visits are obtained at these welcome centers — from directions to specific buildings and offices, where to park, and what types of programs are available. Campus tours are tangible and provide students with the opportunity to create personal connections to a campus by experiencing it first-hand.

When it comes to the future of campus recruitment, colleges and universities need to ramp up their recruitment arsenal. Independent research confirms that tours are the number one most influential factor when it comes to making the biggest decision.

So, how can campuses elevate their visitors’ experience and drive more students to apply to their schools? Consider this — an easily accessible, interactive, virtual campus tour that bridges tradition and technology, and appeals to the masses in a sustainable and eco-friendly way.

Accessible for everyone

Although official campus tours run year-round, not every student who visits can make a scheduled tour, or they simply just don’t want to. In fact, 75% of high school seniors have toured a campus on their own without the aid of a tour guide, which could equate to thousands of students taking unaccompanied tours of college campuses each year. This is a missed opportunity for campuses to speak to prospective students’ interests.

A mobile campus tour could easily capture all students (or any visitors) who visit the campus unofficially. In today’s day and age, 94% of 18-29 year-olds in the US own a smartphone and 96% of 16-24 year-olds in the UK own a smartphone — many who use smartphones as their primary means of staying connected to the world of digital information. As Admissions teams continue to innovate their existing programs by bridging tradition and new media/technology, there is a real opportunity for schools to support their standard recruitment tools with digital enhancements.

Appeal to different types of visitors

The benefit of a virtual campus tour is that it allows you to carefully craft your story in an authentic narrative that will play well in recorded form and be more appealing to the masses because you’ll be able to reach and appeal to more people.

Instead of focusing on only one type of tour experience, you’ll be able to craft experiences for special interests — this is the perfect opportunity for you to help prospective students identify with your existing student population and imagine themselves as part of your student body. And while you certainly won’t be able to cover every type of student, you will be able to get a wealth of perspectives by having students contribute their own personal stories to different tour tracks.

The University of Oregon created a comprehensive campus tour that includes different student profiles, admissions and housing FAQs, and landmark information — all of which was designed to be completely updateable! With Guidebook, you have the ability to create multiple tours within one app.

Here are some examples of different tours that can highlight unique aspects of your campus:

  • Facilities tours (i.e. dining centers, libraries, lecture halls, gymnasiums/fields)
  • Multi-language tours (Guidebook currently supports these languages)
  • Public arts or landmarks tours (i.e. the surrounding city or the campus)

Extend their experience post-visit

While it’d be ideal for visitors to retain every bit of information and have the same great experience on a tour, the reality is that people take in and retain information in different ways — people following the same tour can remember completely different information and have entirely different experiences!

A mobile campus tour is something that prospective students can keep in their pockets and go back to whenever, wherever they want. If done correctly, the virtual campus tour can become part of a bigger strategy that follows the prospective student throughout their decision-making process, making sure that your message continues to resonate long after they’ve left your campus.

You’ll also be able to gather data from your mobile campus tour — something that can’t be done with a paper map or paper agenda. End each of your mobile tours with a clear call to action; this is the perfect opportunity to collect data so you can continue to improve your recruitment strategy. And it’s a great opportunity to find out if your student visitors are interested in applying!

Here are some questions you can ask:

  • Are you interested in applying?
  • Did you enjoy the tour?
  • Was there something missing from the experience?
  • Would you recommend it to a friend?
  • Are you more likely to apply after taking the tour than you were before?

To learn more about how you can create a mobile campus tour, click the button below to schedule time with one of our EDU consultants.

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