• Don Byrne

10 Ways to Use Virtual Reality for Museums and Nature Reserves

Updated: Jan 20

With the recent push for "Social Distancing" over the last year or so, many of you may be wondering how this may affect your long-term business goals and fundraising capabilities. A Virtual Tour may be one answer. Read on to find out how "Virtual and Augmented Reality" can not only bring visitors through your doors--virtually of course--but also educate, inform and turn them into virtual advocates to help promote your business. Linking to a "Donations Landing Page" can even help in fundraising. With those potential benefits in mind, consider the following ways to help promote your organization in these chaotic and unpredictable times:

  1. Take visitors on trips they couldn't otherwise take - With people keeping their distance and avoiding crowds, now may be the best time to reach out to potential visitors by opening your tour grounds or museum up to older and disabled visitors by using VR technology on their mobile and laptop devices. Our tours also work great in VR headsets. Hospitals have been stepping into the Virtual Field Trip arena to allow people with hospital anxiety to get familiar with the environment before they arrive. Zoos also have been using this technology to allow sick children to view the animals from home. Read more here! We can even help get your tour on Google! See how Google is using virtual tours to promote the arts with its new Arts and Culture app.

  2. Show potential visitors what they're missing - While we all want actual visitors to come to our locations, right now it's just not possible. Give visitors the option of seeing everything you have to offer from the comfort of their own homes or even the parking lot if you're forced to close your doors. This is also a great option during the off-season and on bad weather days. But make sure to keep them up-to-date and encourage them to come in and visit your place in person when things settle down! Read how real estate has been using Virtual Tours to help sell homes!

  3. Show potential donors what you're building - Do you have a special project coming up and want to let people know? Consider using a series of text messages or a narrated "walk-through" or "virtual 360" tour to show potential donors exactly how their contributions will help. We can even add video clips, photos, and aerial footage if needed. When the job is done, add before-and-after 360 panoramas that explain how all the updates will benefit new visitors. And remember to thank your donors for their support by sending a link to the finished project when you're done.

  4. Educate your visitors with a Digital Field Guide - One of the best ways to use virtual technology is to create a "Digital Field Guide" with photo galleries and descriptive text to show them various areas of your preserve where native flora and fauna reside on your property, or different sections of your museum. The field guide allows viewers to get in-depth knowledge of the different animals and plants in their surroundings, or in the case of museums, detailed highlights of your displays. This is a great way to show visitors things they might not get to see during their visit--depending on the time of year.

  5. Let students in Elementary and High School classes take a Virtual Field Trip from home - Allowing teachers to show students different ecosystems, environments, plants, and animals at your location is a game-changer. Not only are they getting an updated look at these areas, but they also have the ability to take control in their own hands and choose their own storyline. See some examples here. Our process creates SCORM (or Sharable Content Object Reference Model) compliant virtual tours similar to how the DVD standard makes sure that all DVDs will play in all DVD players. This means teachers can add and integrate your virtual tours into SCORM compliant online courses and MOOCs.

  6. Use tours to help with fundraising with links to Donation pages - Encourage viewers to become donors by adding links to your donations page throughout the tour. Then promote "social sharing" so they can advocate for your natural area's protection and your organization's continued funding needs. Create a link to a special page on your website for that specific reason, and give them options to a variety of causes.

  7. Let viewers explore your land with YouTube video links - Adding videos, aerial footage, testimonials, photo galleries, and even 360 video to your tour allows you to show viewers scenes that they might not see on a walk-through visit. You can even link to existing videos on your own YouTube channel!

  8. Upload your 360 Video to YouTube or Facebook - Both social media platforms allow viewers to experience full 360 video and are GREAT ways to attract visitors and lead them back to your website.

  9. Use those same 360 photos on Facebook- Consider creating "animated GIFs" for Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to reach the younger crowd on those platforms and reach a more diverse audience. This allows them to get a sneak peek into the Virtual Tour without quite clicking on the video or website.

  10. Re-Use the individual 360 photos - You can even re-use the panoramas we create on dedicated web pages for particular projects or initiatives that need visual support. We can show you ways to embed these photos and even full tours on your own website to keep people focused on what you have to say.

We're here to help, and these are just TEN ways we can do that--and we can probably think of a dozen more. Please note that they are NOT mutually exclusive. Re-purposing the digital assets we can create to use in other creative projects has been a mantra at The Post House for many years. Just ask about how we can help you save money with our Batch and Release web video campaigns or video/virtual tour combo packages!

We hope you find these tips useful. Combined with our free social media marketing tips, (available free to non-profits only) you’ll be able to get interested prospects the information they’re looking for...and reach more customers and supporters. If you need help deciding which of these would best suit your needs, please give us a call. You can reach us at or by phone at 715 858 0454.

About the author: Don Byrne is an award-winning producer and cinematographer with over 30 years of experience in video production and photography and a lifelong passion for protecting the environment. His company, The Post House, is a boutique video and 360 virtual tour production company in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The Post House is one of only a select few companies in Wisconsin and the upper Midwest offering a full range of professional video production AND 360 Photography/Virtual Tour production services. In 2019, they were awarded the "Best Video Production Company" in Volume One's Best of the Chippewa Valley Reader Poll. They were recently awarded a Gold Award of Excellence from The Communicator Awards for The Ridges Sanctuary | Mobile version.

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