Virtual Reality Can Bring ROI
Virtual reality is able to produce a return on investment in ways you may not have imagined.
Suzanne Sanders is the Director of Marketing for YouVisit. YouVisit focuses on the practical needs of consumers as they first created virtual tours for colleges. The founders of YouVisit are Taher Baderkhan, Abi Mandelbaum and Endri Tolka. They launched the company in 2009.
Mandelbaum said to the Miami Herald, “We had friends that ended up at colleges that weren’t the right fit for them.” YouVisit began bringing “Virtual Guided Walking Tour” to many industries including hospitality, travel/leisure, education, real estate, music festivals and more.
Sanders has noted that YouVisit’s best sales are one to one direct sales. Their main issue has been that a lot of people don’t have VR headsets, although that’s now changing as more VR headsets hit the mainstream. She thinks that how people go about the web is going to change as more advanced applications are developed. Sanders said, “We’ve done some experiences you can do travel-wise that make you feel like you’re really experiencing it for yourself.” She talked about how virtual reality will be able to expand more as different experiences are created. Let’s say for example, someone plans a trip to Austin. They could then view different experiences for music venues, museums, restaurants and anything else they’re interested in to better see that city before they visit.
She noted that the colleges that utilize YouVisit’s virtual tours, have received a 30% increase in physical visit request and they’re experiencing a 12.3% conversion rate. The company also analyzes “engagement” which they base off of how long it’s used. The average engagement is 10.4 minutes based on their 1,000 tours. YouVisit has fewer than 1,000 customers as some customers go on more than one tour and the company has about 100 employees which is triple the size from 2015. YouVisit’s Sales and Partners Director, Mike Turino, said, “We’re known as being the virtual reality company to figure out ROI for enterprise clients. We have a lot of use cases from Microsoft’s facility in India, to Cisco Systems’ threat intelligence ecosystem that they use on their face to face meetings; everyone uses it for trade shows. We have situations like Red Roof Inn, Visit Houston, Mercedes-Benz – they’re all there. At the end of the day, what matters to Turino is the numbers. He said, “Our clients are not clients that are just creating content because they’ve got a big budget and they want to show something off; our clients are coming to us because they need to fill an ROI. That’s why we’re pretty successful with them.” And Turino added, “A lot of companies take a 360-degree camera, mount it somewhere, and say “We can do VR.” We’re not that company… Our model that holds us accountable every year to show an ROI. No one does that. That means when someone signs up with us, we’re telling them, “You have no obligations to renew next year; we have to show you the ROI.”
Turino said that’s why they have a 90 percent custom retention rate at YouVisit. In regards to virtual reality hitting the mainstream successfully, Sanders said, “ I would love personally to be able to try on clothes from home, because I don’t like shopping… I’m a mom, and I hate shopping, so I’m slowly increasing my digital buying behavior, but there’s clothes I have to try on. Imagine if I could try it on with VR, and really see it on my body. I think some people are concerned about the touch. I’m not as concerned, but it would be nice to touch, and people are building out that technology.” She thinks that virtual reality is the next web platform after mobile, but we need to get over the equipment hurdle in order for it to really work well. She does think that’s going to happen though as brands like the New York Times have shown innovative ways of marketing when they sent out Google Cardboard headsets to their print subscribers.