Mobile apps unlock the full potential of campus tours

Submitted by on Tue, 11/17/15

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Campus tours are among the most important recruitment opportunities for colleges and universities, and the time has come to take advantage of mobile device functionality to maximize the value of different tour types. Smartphones and tablets have created new possibilities for organizations to create media-rich, mobile-optimized content that engages campus visitors in new and more intuitive ways.

Tours are a natural fit for mobile campus apps. Academic institutions that expand campus tour functions through mobile apps can reach more users with powerful content and rich media. Tour apps can engage visitors with video, photos, walking path maps, and even messages through iBeacon integration, letting users consume the content at their own pace, in their own way.

Using tours to engage campus visitors
Content and media are key when creating meaningful tour apps. Including streamlined and powerful information ensures that the app becomes an essential part of the campus experience, not just an optional add-on that provides marginal value. There are a few ways you can create mobile tour apps to deliver on this end:

“Content and media are key when creating powerful tour apps.”

Supplementing guided tours – Guided tours are a key part of recruitment and orientation processes at colleges and universities. They are an excellent avenue for visitor engagement, but some people can slip through the cracks – they might be in a large group and can’t hear the speaker, or perhaps they are extremely interested in only a few parts of campus and not really concerned with everything else. These users, visitors who might otherwise disengage during a formal tour, can use a mobile tour app to view content alongside their guided tour, ensuring they have a positive experience.

Offer independent visitors a virtual guide – Prospective students and other visitors frequently visit campuses to explore on their own and get a feel for what the institution has to offer. They may stop by admissions to say ‘hi’ or just go on the campus website for some ideas of what to see while they’re there. A mobile tour app can give you an opportunity to guide them to key points of interest and enrich their experience through video, maps and similar content–ensuring that they still get their questions answered and see the campus in the best possible light.

A mobile tour can allow international students to get a more intimate look into their new campus as well. For instance, a prospective student in China who may not be able to see his new school until the first day of enrollment, can now tour the campus through the university’s app. For him, or anyone else that may not be able to tour the school, the university experience becomes much more familiar without ever having previously stepped foot on campus.

Unconventional tours – Visitors will want to learn about life on your campus, not just the buildings. You can create any kind of unique tour – such as a mobile tour highlighting the best places to get a cheap meal near campus – to create a holistic picture of the university experience.

Crowdsourced tours – Peer interactions are among the most important components of campus recruiting – meeting a current student who’s had a positive experience at the institution can play a key role in helping a prospective student connect with the campus. You can empower students to create tours that provide their perspective on campus life and add a new layer of peer-to-peer interaction to a visitor’s experience. The University of Notre Dame is in the midst of such a project right now: The university is holding a contest in which it is challenging students to develop new tour ideas and giving them access to no-code development tools so they can actually create the tour themselves.

Mobile tour apps can enrich your campus tour experience.
Mobile tour apps can enrich your campus tour experience.

Tours in action – a quick look at how some institutions are already using mobile tour content
Mobile tours aren’t necessarily a new idea, but leading mobile development platforms are making them more accessible than ever. Because of this, many colleges and universities have already put mobile tour apps into action. Here are a few quick examples:

The University of Arizona – The University of Arizona has created a diverse library of mobile tour experiences, including a basic campus tour, a public art tour that highlights the many art installations spread throughout the university and a heritage tour that emphasizes the institution’s history. All of these tours are housed within the primary campus app, providing a one-stop destination for students and visitors.

Rhode Island School of Design – RISD has made its tour stand out through a freestanding mobile app, something that is especially valuable as the institution has multiple art galleries and exhibitions for visitors to peruse.

Fitchburg State University – Like Arizona, Fitchburg State has built its mobile tour app into its main campus app. The app is particularly noteworthy because it emphasizes video content as a key visitor engagement tool.

University of Florida – This institution is among the largest in the nation and uses a freestanding mobile tour app to help its visitors get the best experience possible during their campus visit.

Future plans – Soon, we’ll be seeing more and more schools integrating iBeacons into tours to provide location-specific data for campus visitors.  iBeacons will enable proximity-based notifications, alerting prospective students and visitors of areas of note nearby.

“App assembly tools can streamline and accelerate development.”

Overcoming the technological barriers to mobile tours
While all of these tour ideas may sound fantastic, you might sit back and think, “This is great, but we don’t have time or money to build a mobile tour app from scratch, so this won’t work for us.” Luckily, the days of complex programming to support mobile app creation are disappearing. Mobile-specific app assembly tools, like Kurogo Tour, are giving any non-technical person the ability to quickly and easily create unique one-of-a-kind mobile experiences.

With app platforms making it possible to delegate, streamline and accelerate development, your institution can jump on the mobile tour bandwagon and start creating a superior visitor experience today.

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