Saturday, 31 October 2015

Customised virtual tours on-line

So you want something different. Customised virtual tours on-line
This is the fourth in a short run of posts about virtual tours on-line. The first three have been about Google Trusted Tours. But right now I want to turn my attention to non-Google tours, our own customised tours.
These are great if you want something out of the ordinary.
Anyway, to give you an idea of what we are talking about here’s a few that we made earlier. Click on the images in this post to access the tours. You can click on the maps or click on the ‘targets’ on screen, or use the icons at the bottom to move around the businesses. These are virtual tours.
Cockermouth Leisure Centre customised virtual tour
Cedar Gallery Windermere customised virtual tour
Artemis Gallery customised virtual tour
These are ideal for large establishments, or places with geographically widespread facilities or rooms. It means that there is no need to ramble through plain corridors to get from one room to another or from a swimming pool to a gym area in a large sports complex for instance. 
A customised virtual tour can be designed around what you want to show. They help turn virtual footfall into real footfall and present important value considerations to your potential customers.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Not seeing your virtual tour on FaceBook?

Well, this is a reasonable question. How do I get my virtual tour onto FaceBook?

The first thing to note is that FaceBook uses https by default. ‘https’ means it has secure browsing which helps to prevent hijacking of your pages by others. It has a higher level of encryption.
The impact is that if you want to reference other media (such as a virtual tour) then that needs to be on an https server too! Many people struggle with this. It means that if you try to embed a tour held on a non secure server it will never ever show up on FaceBook.
How do you know if you have a web site on an https server? Easy, look at your web address. If it says http (before the www) then it is not https! You can also check with your host.
Google Street View Trusted tours is https. So these can be displayed easily on FaceBook. We have many examples on our own customised FaceBook tab of 360 virtual tours (above) that we have completed, and many of our clients have included these tours on their FaceBook pages too. They wanted to integrate their tour with their social media. It makes perfect sense. It’s really great for retailers, galleries, restaurants, gyms…. and anyone wanting to make the most of their social media.
You don’t have to use your tour on FaceBook of course, instead you can embed it in your blog and in web sites whether using http or https.
As ever, it’s horses for courses. For instance, we also do customised tours (see next blog) which don’t go on FaceBook unless someone uses https for their web site.
If your expectation is that you want your tour to integrate with your social media then you need the higher level of security afforded by a Google Tour, (unless you have an https web site already). Don’t waste your money on anything less.
Depending on what is requested by a client, we can produce both sorts of tour, all at the same time, thus saving some time, and giving clients both options and freedom of choice.
Next a little more on those customised tours.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Is Google good for your business?

Google has been undergoing some upheavals recently, in terms of organisation, search engines, street view etc. Some things have not changed, for instance what you add on your Business Google Plus page, still drives what is shown on your Knowledge Card when someone searches. What is shown includes your photos, reviews, posts and of course your virtual tour.
And in terms of Street View Trusted, it’s still vitally important to have a Google Virtual Tour. The reason is this:
According to an independent survey, virtual tours help double interest in business listings. After all once you are listed by Google and your knowledge card comes up in the listings then your potential customer has the option to go straight to your Google Tour. No other tours have this immediate accessibility for your customers. And that is the point! Don’t forget that you can also put these tours on your web site. (click and drag on the one below).

For hotels, when comparing a search listing with and without a tour, those who view a listing with a virtual tour are twice as likely to book a room.
Amongst the younger age groups they are even more likely to book a room based on seeing a search listing with a tour!
67% of people want to see more business search listings with virtual tours and only 7% said that virtual tours are unnecessary. So more people want to see more of them. They want to trust what they see and that’s the ‘Trusted’ part of Street View Trusted means.
The Google Virtual Tour increases the accessibility of your business in a Google search. End of story.
Next Up, Get your virtual tour on your FaceBook Page.

Can you trust Google?

Street View | Trusted – what’s this all about?

I thought I would make a specific point about what ‘Trusted’ means in Google’s terms. It’s really important that when searching the web, that not only do you get relevant and appropriate results quickly, it is also important that you can TRUST what you see. (Street View Trusted is basically Street View but indoors, it’s inside a business and works in a similar way to Street View, aka ‘See Inside’).
So, for instance, if you see a lovely hotel room using Google See Inside, then that REALLY IS a room from that hotel and it reflects the typical standard of that room type.
Or, for instance, if on Google Search you see pictures of a spa, or a kennels, or a restaurant…. and then you decide to book on that basis, then what you see on line is what you are going to experience when you get there.
This is the integrity of the Google Trusted system and it’s not only important to Google but it’s important to your customers.
Qualified Google Trusted Photographers such as ourselves produce photographs and Google Tours for hotels, retailers and service providers.
AND as a service provider, retailer or hotelier, it should be important to you that you are accurately and honestly represented on-line.
Equally it’s also important to demonstrate that you are being represented honestly on-line to your customers.
Get your customers to understand the value of ‘Trusted’ when you get your Google tour.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Another fab Google tour from Scientific Arts Limelighting Cockermouth

I don’t put up every tour we do, and here we have a particularly interesting one. Limelighting is a lighting shop set inside a vintage cinema/theatre, so the layout is very unusual. There are layers of lights resting where the seating on the steps would have been arranged and the ceilings are vaulted. My goodness do they do a lot of lights! It's on two floors. Clearly a unique location.

We loved it. And it was very challenging to photograph.

Here’s the tour, just click and drag on screen……

Here’s the Google knowledge card before the Google tour when viewed on a pc:
Before the Google tour on a pc, Limelighting Cockermouth
Now the result AFTER the Google tour with us, clearly now it’s presence on the web is very interesting and inviting and you really know what the business is about:
AFTER the Google tour on a pc, Limelighting Cockermouth
It's even better if you Google 'lighting shops Cumbria', Limelighting is the first on the list and now has a great knowledge card. The pin on the map shows you exactly where they are and you can be a virtual tourist in the shop. Try Googling it now.
Result when Googling Lighting Shops Cumbria
Here's a few of my favourite photos from the shoot - you can see them when clicking 'See Photos' if you bring up the knowledge card by Googling 'Limelighting Cockermouth' or 'lighting shops Cumbria'.
Limelighting Cockermouth
Limelighting Cockermouth
Limelighting Cockermouth
Limelighting Cockermouth
Limelighting Cockermouth

Another fab Google Tour by Scientific Arts, King Kong Climbing Centre Keswick

Well this was a challenge which included not just an extensive climbing facility, but also children’s play areas and castle, cafe, shop and ice wall.
It’s not everyday that you get to photograph an ice wall. Essentially this is a refrigerated room, where climbers can come to learn how to work with ice. In fact on the day we did the shoot, the guys from Berghaus were there testing out their new gear. We had to work fast and took less than a minute to capture the wall. Here we are looking upwards towards the lights and fans. The ropes are hanging down.

I must do my ‘before’ and ‘after’, so here goes, this is what the centre looked like on an iPad before the tour. It has a poor Street View image.
King Kong Climbing Centre Keswick before the Google tour on an iPad
Now after the tour, we have selected the entrance to the shop and centre as the Street View Image, and this is now more appropriate. The See Inside (tour) and Photos are clear and demonstrate what business is about.
King Kong Climbing Centre Keswick AFTER our Google tour on an iPad
And here are some of my favourite still shots from the day – these and others are newly displayed on ‘Photos’ above.
King Kong Climbing Centre Keswick from the outside
King Kong Climbing Centre Keswick
Dragon at the King Kong Climbing Centre Keswick
Children's Castle at King Kong Climbing Centre Keswick
Ah, Cakes! at the King Kong Climbing Centre Keswick

Coffee and Climbing at King Kong Climbing Centre Keswick
King Kong Climbing Centre Keswick
King Kong Climbing Centre Keswick
King Kong Climbing Centre Keswick

A great place for all the family and for shopping!