Panoee Features

Hosting Virtual Tours – 4 ways to publish and share your Virtual Tours.

Trịnh Tùng Anh
Panoee CEO & co-founder. Virtual Tour enthusiast & 360 panoramic photographers for 10 years.

What is publishing Virtual Tours?

Publishing a virtual tour is the process of making your 360-degree content accessible online or on digital devices. After editing your content with virtual tour software, you can host it on a server and share it with your audience.

Viewers can then immerse themselves in the virtual experience, navigating through it using gestures, computer controls (like a mouse or trackpad), or VR gadgets like controllers or virtual reality glasses.

The specific hosting method you choose depends on your intended use and how you plan to share the tour.

virtual tour hosting solutions
virtual tour hosting solutions

4 ways of hosting your Virtual Tour

When sharing your virtual tours, you have four primary hosting methods to choose from, regardless of your virtual tour platform is (cloud-based or desktop)

  1. Cloud Hosting: This option typically involves using your software provider’s servers to store and share your tours. It’s often convenient and user-friendly, but may have limitations on privacy or branding.
  2. Domain Integration: If you have your own website, you can often embed virtual tours directly into it. This provides a seamless user experience and allows for greater control over presentation.
  3. Self-Hosting: For maximum control, you can host tours on your own server. This requires technical expertise but offers the most flexibility in terms of customization and branding.
  4. Publishing to Google Street View: This option allows you to share your tours within the Google Maps, potentially reaching a wider audience.

Each hosting method has its own advantages and drawbacks. Consider your specific needs and resources when deciding which approach is best for showcasing your virtual tours.

Cloud hosting

If you’re utilizing cloud-based virtual tour softwares (i.e Panoee), you’ll likely have access to their built-in hosting service. This means your virtual tour will be publicly accessible immediately after you click the “publish” button.

This method is widely considered the fastest and simplest way to publish & republish your virtual tour online, as it eliminates the need for technical skills or complex workflows. With a few clicks, your tour is live and ready to be shared.

When choosing a 360 platform for cloud hosting, consider a few key factors:

  • Does it allow you to customize the tour URL (slug)?
  • Can you integrate your own custom domain? These features can enhance your brand identity and make your tours more easily recognizable.
  • Does it support unlimited publishing?
  • Does it support limited or unlimited of data storage (in Gb)?

The primary benefits of cloud hosting are its speed and convenience. Your virtual tours are always up-to-date and can be refreshed with the latest changes in mere seconds.

Integrate Domain to Virtual Tour

Integrating your domain with your virtual tour is essentially a variation of cloud hosting rather than a completely distinct method – as it directly link the domain to 360 content.

This approach typically involves a couple of straightforward steps involving DNS records. Once configured, your virtual tour becomes accessible through your own custom domain.

Learn how to use Panoee to integrate domain to your Virtual Tour

Similar to standard cloud hosting, your files reside on the provider’s servers so it also offers exceptional convenience, eliminating the need to invest time and effort in managing your own hardware infrastructure.

It’s a streamlined way to present your virtual tours under your own (branded) domain.

Self-hosting Virtual Tour

If you choose to create your virtual tour using PC-based software like krpano, the final product will be a collection of web-compatible files (HTML, CSS, JS, XML, etc.).

To make your tour accessible online, you’ll need to compress these files and upload them to your own web hosting. This self-hosting process typically involves four steps:

  1. Purchase server or shared hosting from a provider (i.e Vultr, Google Cloud, or Amazon AWS)
  2. Set up your domain name to point to your server’s IP address.
  3. Configure the web server environment to properly serve the tour files.
  4. Finally, upload the files to the appropriate folder on server and test whether the index.html file is accessible via URL.

In many cases, virtual tours can be treated as static websites, which means you can utilize cloud storage services like AWS S3 or Google Storage to host and serve your files.

hosting virtual tour in AWS S3 for free
hosting virtual tour in AWS S3 for free

While this approach might require some initial setup, it’s one of the cheapest solutions. Panoee offers a free virtual tour hosting tool and a detailed tutorial to assist you in configuring Amazon S3 for this purpose.

The primary benefit of self-hosting is the level of control and privacy it provides. You can ensure that your hardware resources are dedicated or shared according to your needs, and you have the freedom to implement security measures to protect your tour from unauthorized access.

Before opting for self-hosting, however, there are a few crucial factors to consider. For example, do you have the personnel available to manage the server infrastructure? If not, you may want to explore alternative hosting options that require less technical expertise.

Publish Google Street View

Essentially, Google Street View is Google’s cloud hosting solution specifically for virtual tours. This feature allows users to publish their 360-degree panoramas directly onto the platform.

While Google previously offered a dedicated tool called Google Tour Creator for this purpose, it has since been discontinued. Instead, they have released an API that enables developers to integrate panoramas into Google Maps, adhering to Google’s standards.

Choosing Google Street View for hosting virtual tours presents several advantages:

  1. The service is completely free, ensuring that your tours remain accessible online without any ongoing costs.
  2. With millions of daily Google Maps users, your virtual tour has the potential to reach a vast audience, especially when users search for relevant destinations.
  3. Moreover, like other virtual tours, those hosted on Google Street View are easily shareable and can be embedded into any website.

However, there are some trade-offs to consider.

  • Reduction in 360-degree image quality.
  • It lacks some lots of the interactive features commonly found in dedicated virtual tour platforms.
  • Additionally, the Google Street View API may occasionally experience unexpected issues.
  • Lastly, users have limited control over customization options.
Learn how to use Panoee to publish Google Street View

To maximize the impact of your virtual tours and deliver optimal value to your customers, it is crucial to select a virtual tour platform that offers this publishing feature. Ideally, you would have two versions of your virtual tours: one hosted on your website and another on Google Maps, allowing you to attract traffic from both sources.

For panoramic photographers, offering virtual tours as an additional service can be a valuable differentiator, setting you apart from competitors and attracting more clients.

Use case of publishing Virtual Tour

Share Virtual Tours on the Internet

Once your virtual tour is hosted, it’s time to share it across the internet. You can easily share the tour URL directly on social networks, chat platforms, or send it directly to individuals.

To make the most of your sharing efforts, keep a few tips in mind.

  1. Ensure the featured image for your 360 tour is visually appealing, eye-catching, and provides a glimpse of the overall experience.
  2. Incorporate a 360-degree icon to signal the interactive nature of the tour.
  3. Use text overlays to enhance readability and engage potential viewers.
  4. Remember to update the tour’s title, description, and favicon to create a more authoritative presence and reinforce your brand identity.
  5. Before sharing, verify that the tour is accessible through anonymous browsing.
  6. Additionally, aim for a short and memorable tour URL or slug to make it easier remember.

To guarantee a seamless sharing experience, it’s recommended to either double-check all these requirements manually or utilize virtual tour platforms like Panoee, which offer built-in SEO & marketing features to streamline the process.

You can also consider using quick social sharing tools for platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or unique QR code to provide alternative ways to access your virtual tour.

Add Virtual Tour to the website or Property Listing

One common use case is by embedding virtual tours directly into websites or property listing platforms like Zillow and Trulia.

This integration allows potential viewers to experience the tour without leaving the website they are currently browsing.

Embedding a virtual tour is surprisingly straightforward, primarily achieved through the use of an iframe – functioning much like an embedded YouTube video. As a result, viewers remain unaware of the tour’s original URL.

The most significant advantage of embedding is that it displays the tour under your domain, enhancing your brand’s presence and recognition. Additionally, this method is incredibly simple, requiring no coding skills whatsoever. Anyone can easily embed a virtual tour by simply copying and pasting the provided code.

Deliver or Hand off Virtual Tour

As a professional panoramic photographer or a 360 agency, you’ll often need to send the delivery to your clients so they can self-host virtual tours on their own infrastructure.

These files typically come in the form of a .zip archive, containing all the essential files i.e HTML, CSS, and JS files, along with various media assets such as images, videos, or PDFs required for the virtual tour to function both online and offline – which collectively constitute the virtual tour and enable it to be displayed on a web browser or other compatible platforms.

Panoee virtual tour software offer 2 ways of exporting for delivery
Panoee virtual tour software offer 2 ways of exporting for delivery

Obtaining the output files is straightforward when using offline virtual tour software, as these tools are designed solely for creating virtual tours without hosting capabilities.

However, if you prefer cloud-based virtual tour software, look for advanced solution which offers the functionality to export these files for self-hosting purposes. By choosing a platform that supports this feature, you can easily deliver your clients a complete package that empowers them to take full ownership of their virtual tours.

Present Virtual Tour offline

Virtual tours are increasingly popular as interactive content for events or exhibitions. In many situations, these tours need to be capable of running offline, without the need for an internet connection.

This method is advantageous due to its remarkably fast loading times and the ability to showcase content at the highest possible resolution.

To achieve this, the virtual tour is hosted locally on a computer and can be executed as a standard desktop application.

Another approach involves setting up a web server environment on the computer and serving the virtual tour from the localhost.

hosting virtual tour for offline use
hosting virtual tour for offline use

Both methods enable a seamless offline experience, ensuring that attendees can access and interact with the virtual tour even in environments with limited or no internet connectivity. By hosting the virtual tour locally, you can guarantee a smooth and uninterrupted experience for all attendees, regardless of network conditions.

Choose your publishing method?

Each virtual tour hosting method has its own advantages and disadvantages, making them suitable for different situations:

Cloud Hosting: Ideal for speed and convenience, particularly if you manage numerous virtual tours. It offers streamlined workflow and hassle-free maintenance. Integrating your domain name adds professionalism and brand recognition.

Google Street View: Maximizes your tours’ reach by attracting organic traffic. It can also serve as an additional value-added service for your clients.

Self-Hosting: Ensures data security and longevity as being a reliable backup solution. It also allows for professional delivery of source files to clients, who can then integrate them into their own platforms or use them offline.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so choose the method that best suits your specific needs and resources. Consider factors like the number of tours you manage, desired level of control, and target audience when making your decision.

Among lots of solutions in the market, Panoee stands out as a versatile virtual tour software that simplifies the hosting and publishing process. Its comprehensive features and tools make it a suitable choice for both beginners and experienced professionals in the field.

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