There were many exciting things happening at Algonquin College. They had recently opened the new $45-million DARE District (Discovery Applied Research and Entrepreneurship) and a multimillion-dollar welding lab. These spaces housed many important programs that would be crucial elements in adapting their learning model to the future, and fostering industry-academic collaborations. Algonquin’s marketing team sought a way to share these developments with prospective students.
Led by Tracy White, Marketing Officer Team Lead, the team began evaluating virtual tour solutions in the market. They were seeking a product that was user friendly and interactive, while being capable of generating inbound inquiries from interested prospects. The team decided that Circuit was the right platform to tell their story in an immersive way.
Algonquin’s marketing team opted for a two phase approach to production - the first phase during reading week when campus was quiet, and the second in the summer to capture outdoor spaces at their peak. Beyond Media was hired to take on the 360° content production and set-up, and guided the team through a proven 5-step process. Faculty marketing was involved in production, ensuring that labs and learning spaces were staged and set up for photography. Tracy recalls that “members of the faculty appreciated the College highlighting their program-specific classroom and labs. It enabled the faculty to boast about their facilities and give students a new perspective on their program of interest.”
The marketing team used Circuit’s editing tools and preview functionality to review content and descriptions with faculty and ensure proper accessibility tags on all media files. The content was reviewed, proofed, approved, and ready to go live. The site launched, and the marketing team was impressed with the finished product.
“We wanted a virtual tour that would help bring each campus to life by showcasing the most captivating program labs, social spaces, student services, and more. Circuit helped us achieve that,” --Tracy White, Marketing Officer Team Lead
After a collective round of high-fives, Algonquin got to work on integrating it within their marketing mix. “Algonquin has utilized tours in numerous ways, from links on webpages and email campaigns, to being an interactive element at events, as well as highlighting campuses and programs in recruitment presentations,” says Tracy.
At the Ontario College Information Fair, they set up a large touchscreen for recruiters to display virtual tour content. “We wanted a fun and interactive way to showcase our virtual tour with as many of the attendees as possible. The touchscreen gave our recruiters a visual while they were speaking with individuals or larger groups of students.”
When COVID-19 hit, Algonquin was prepared to take action online. "With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the College had to cancel its open houses. The College repurposed the virtual tours and changed its in-person open houses to virtual ones." Taking it a step further, Algonquin hosted virtual guided tours focused on its campuses, with a campus tour guide walking through 360° views of spaces on a Zoom video conference.
The feedback from prospective students concluded that the tour was well received by Gen Z. “Prospective students enjoy the interaction with the campuses and programs. They are able to focus on scenes that are relevant to their interests and skip locations that are not. This gives them a more personalized experience.”
With an increased focus on integrating Circuit into their digital channels, Algonquin is seeing an upward trend on traffic and results. “The results of the virtual tours have exceeded expectations. Our virtual tour is a leading engagement tool. We are delighted to see unique traffic to pages also continue to grow.”
Check out Algonquin's virtual tour here.