Out of Box (some may say crazy) Idea

Idea For Creating a Memorable Experience

One area in social media I believe holds tangible and relatively immediate benefit is the creation of a virtual experience for potential capital investors. Industry experience suggests an excellent tactic to introduce your community to a potential investor is the familiarization tour (FAM tour). How useful would it be to be able to get the same value from a FAM tour without the cost?

Enter the concept of a virtual FAM tour. A virtual FAM tour would introduce your potential investor to your top properties/buildings and the assets of your community, but without the expense and delays in scheduling associated with a typical physical trip.

Virtual FAM Tour

Far-fetched? Not really. A virtual FAM tour can be as simple as a reapplying the proven real estate industry model that allows you to evaluate a house from your own computer.

The website Home Debuts is a great example of that technology in use. Even the federal government provides a virtual tour of the White House, albeit a static execution.

I appreciate this isn’t rocket science. But, I just saw a YouTube video entitled Athens Street Tour that helps introduce people to the community. It got me thinking again about the concept. I believe this is potentially a very effective way to showcase your buildings and shovel ready properties. Combine a video of your sites with some testimonials from local executives successfully building their business and a tour of your community’s assets to deliver a powerful overview of what you offer. Make the video available on YouTube and promote it aggressively to CEOs in your target industries and site selection consultants.

Existing Examples of Virtual City Tours

Here are some virtual city tours that, in my opinion, are pushing in the right direction. They demonstrate the potential for successfully applying this concept. None are strategically right on target, but think of them as proof the concept can actually be executed.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

New York City, New York

Ventura, California

Dubai City, UAE

If you Google “virtual city tours”, you will find a lot more examples. Most have a decided travel & tourism focus. But, collectively they demonstrate what is possible.

How To Consider Starting

My thinking would be to reach out to your local Travel & Tourism organization to determine what their experience, or thinking is regarding the use of virtual tours to showcase your community. It would be fantastic if the exercise could be a positive collaboration.

The second group I’d reach out to would be local creative Agencies. This is the kind of work they excel at and may be willing to support the effort on a pro bono basis (particularly if it presents an opportunity to put their Organization in a positive light with local CEOs).

The third group to consider asking for support is local real estate companies. They may be a great resource to help you with thinking through this type of project and getting the video work done.

And of course, the leaders of your private sector companies may be extremely helpful. Beyond funding, they can help you determine what information is key to include and whether you are presenting it in the most productive manner.

Thoughts?

I am certain that some communities have leveraged this idea already. It would be great if we could collect as many examples as possible. If you know of any, please leave a comment and include a link to the community’s virtual tour website. I’d also appreciate your thoughts on the basic concept.  Is it an out-of-the-box idea or just a crazy one?

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17 Comments so far

  1. Fred Burkhardt

    August 1, 2012

    I believe that, just as the “Chamber Directory and later the DVD tour, the virtual fam tour will become a common vehicle for community marketing. In many respects it has been here for several years. The formalization of the process may now be accelerating.

  2. Jim Walton

    August 1, 2012

    Good topic, Ed,

    This is a service we are going to begin offing. Because of the availability of web/video technology, we can walk a visitor through the key selling points of a community. Specifically, we will develop tours aimed at site selection consultants, real estate brokers and c-suite execs.

    Jim Walton
    Brand Acceleration, Inc.

  3. Ed Burghard

    August 1, 2012

    @Fred – I think you are absolutely right. There is no reason community’s shouldn’t have been using the technology already.

    @Jim – I think your service will be very well received, particularly if it is designed to deliver information that makes the evaluation of the location easy. I am guessing that done well, this approach will result in a community making the short list for appropriate capital investment deals more often.

  4. Wanda Compton

    August 1, 2012

    I believe larger cities receive value for money in virtual tours. I’m not convinced on the smaller towns and cities, that do have investment opportuntities. The challenge being, while there is business opportunities (i.e. I live in a prosperous oil & gas town in a rural setting), the lack of ‘lifestyle’ options as it relates to recreation infrastructure, retail, professional services, closeness to major centres, etc. makes for a difficult sale on the ‘full package’ of the area.

  5. Robert Mead

    August 1, 2012

    Ed, having just completed many college campus tours, the FAM tour seems perfectely positioned to help prosepctive students and parents get a real sense for the schools they are targeting. With travel costs and time allocation required for visits, a FAM tour would be an excellent way for Univeristies to show off their best equities.
    Wonderful idea.
    Keep me posted on your progress.

  6. Ed Burghard

    August 1, 2012

    @Robert – Great additional application.

  7. […] find many other examples. Most have a decided travel & tourism focus.  You can also read a thought-provoking piece by The Burghard Group about the potential of Virtual FAM Tours […]

  8. Sara Dunnigan

    August 3, 2012

    Ed, we have a local company who has built a fascinating sales presentation platform for tablets that I think could be used in this way. http://www.nimblepitch.com

    It could offer a high level of customization (drag and drop multiple media types from your digital “catalog”) and I love the “post” tracking tools.

  9. Ed Burghard

    August 4, 2012

    Click on any one of these homes and imagine it is a building you are trying to attract a capital investor to and instead of music there is a voice over sharing relevant information about the features – http://www.realtourfusion.com

  10. […] decided travel tourism focus.  You can also read a thought-provoking piece by The Burghard Group (http://strengtheningbrandamerica.com/blog/2012/07/out-of-&#8230😉 about the potential of Virtual FAM Tours […]

  11. Ed Burghard

    August 6, 2012

    Special thanks to Jason LaVanture for finding this example of a city tour. Look at it for the possibilities if the tour was designed with a capital investor in mind rather than a tourist or potential resident. Imagine also how helpful this tactic might be to support a company’s employee transition into your community. Here is the link – http://rtvpix.com/SC-8931-CBWC56-01?h=500&w=700

  12. Ellen Pemrick

    August 6, 2012

    I agree with Wanda that this idea might not work as effectively in smaller cities and towns. Potential investors often aren’t as familiar with these communities and need to get beyond any outdated negative perceptions. In addition, small towns tend to offer different kinds of investment opportunities that may be better presented in person.

  13. Edward

    August 6, 2012

    @Ellen – You may be absolutely right. But, the value of a virtual tour is to increase the odds of making the short list for an RFP. I think the difficulties and cost of companies visiting small towns in preparation for creating the short list might argue that small towns could benefit even more than cities. The trick would be to ensure the virtual tour doesn’t reinforce preconceived perceptions. Just a thought.

  14. Mark Barbash

    August 11, 2012

    Ed: I think that this idea has great potential to also advance the site selection process (which already starts on the web) and challenge communities. For example, if a virtual tour could be linked to some variation of a community’s GIS program or Google Earth, a site selector could see the specific location of key infrastructure (rail, power, fiber, etc.) as well as identify proximity opportunities.

  15. Ed Burghard

    August 11, 2012

    @Mark – Great build! I’ll be seeing the CEOs of Atlas and ZoomProspector in Houston at the IEDC meeting and will bring your idea to their attention.

  16. […] August 4, 2012. […] decided travel tourism focus. You can also read a thought-provoking piece by The Burghard Group (http://strengtheningbrandamerica.com/blog/2012/07/out-of-…; 😉 about the potential of Virtual FAM …  […]

  17. […] stimulate your imagination, you might enjoy my post on Virtual FAM Tours. It is one example of how to leverage the shift to online assessment of […]

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