Lately, I have been traveling to New England restaurants, hotels, attractions and other New England businesses without ever visiting.
|Jump Start Your New England Google Virtual Tour|
VisitingNewEngland.com, has formed an alliance with Google’s provider of Google Business Tours. To jump start your Google Virtual Tour, you can sign up on the VisitingNewEngland Google Business View info page, or directly sign up here. A Google Photographer will call you to discuss the participation details.
How is this possible?
Enter Google Virtual Tours - Inside Street Views.
As a consumer and travel writer, I am absolutely blown away by the Google Virtual Tours. An expansion of the popular Google Street View, Google Virtual Tours - Inside Street Views offers interactive 360 degree Virtual Tours that go inside businesses and provide an incredible life-like "you are there" experience.
Need an immediate visual confirmation? Take a look below at this Google Virtual Tour of the Roost Cafe and Bistro in Ogunquit, Maine. All you have to do to start the tour is place the cursor over the photo and move the arrows around to tour this cozy, little restaurant (please be patient as this and ensuing tours load, thanks!)...
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Amazing isn't it? The concept and final product are brilliant, in my opinion. I believe it's a real game changer for how travelers and customers research their destinations, as well as being a potential boost for online business listings.
The Business Advantage
I was telling my tax preparer about Google Virtual Tours for businesses the other day. She sounded genuinely excited, but paused and asked, "What value does it have to a business?"
In one word, "visibility."
For starters, the tours are placed alongside a businesses' Google Maps listing. To illustrate, let's go back to the Roost Cafe and Bistro to see how its business looks on Google Maps. You can check it out here.
The tours also show up in Google search results. How exciting! As an example, take a look at Google search results for Foster's Downeast Clambake in York Harbor, Maine. The "See inside" image link at the top right of the page will take you there.
Additionally, Google Virtual Tours - Inside Street Views can be placed on your web site and social media. Think of how visually stunning this kind of virtual tour would look to your customers who visit your site or social media destinations like Google+ or Facebook!
Take a look at the Cape Neddick Inn in Cape Neddick, Maine, to see how they implemented a tour on its web site and the The Inn at Tanglewood in York Harbor, Maine, for a Facebook example.
A Rave Review
Su Wetzel, who owns The Inn at Tanglewood Hall with husband Andy, loves the new Google Business View technology.
We (signed up) for the tour about a year ago and it is great," said Wetzel. "I especially like the way you can put individual rooms on the web site. There's no better way (online) to get a tour of the rooms. It's amazing, you can really zoom in to get the details."
The Wetzels also had a Virtual Tour of the outside of the Inn -- a great idea as the property features beautiful woodlands, colorful gardens, and fountains.
Su said that future customers that first get introduced to the Inn at Tanglewood Hall through Google Business View become so familiar with the property that they ask where certain rooms are when ultimately staying at the Inn.
"They ask about the rooms," said Wetzel. "We have people come in, for example, and ask where that billiard room is! They really get immersed in it (Google Business View)."
Su also recognizes Google Virtual Tours - Inside Street Views as a marketing tool.
"I have created each tour as a separate page so I can use Google Analytics to see how each one is doing," said Wetzel. "I also like how the tour shows up on Google Maps and search results. When you 'Google' the Inn at Tanglewood, the tour shows up in the results. It's very economical, too!"
The Customer/Traveler Advantage
Remember those 35mm cameras of yesteryear? We took photos on film and had no idea how the photos would look until FotoMat processed the film. It's the same way with restaurant, hotel, travel attractions and retail destinations. How do you truly know what a place looks like without visiting? Singular photos only tell part of the story. Google Virtual Tours - Inside Street Views solves that challenge.
I know, for me, Google Virtual Tours - Inside Street Views is also a great way to rekindle travel memories of places we've been. One of our favorite southern Maine restaurants is the seasonal Inn on the Blues in York Beach, Maine. Here in New England, we have long, cold winters and often need warm summer memories to help get us through. Just looking at the Inn on the Blues through the Google inside street view warms my heart -- the attractive dining room where we feast on phenomenal seafood, the front porch overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, etc.
Take a look at all of Inn on the Blues -- we encourage you to move the arrows to get a view from that beautiful front porch of Short Sands Beach, too...
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Google indoor street views are not just limited to restaurants, hotels, attractions and retail. Other businesses and organizations have signed onto Google Virtual Tours - Inside Street Views, too, including academia, catering, healthcare, hospitality, services and wedding and event venues. Here are some more examples (and, as a reminder, move those arrows to get a full Virtual Tour experience)...
York Hospital, York, Maine
Garde Arts Center, New London, Conn.
Gene Langan VW, Glastonbury, Conn.
My business, VisitingNewEngland.com, has formed an alliance with Google’s provider of this new program. I am truly excited about this partnership as my main business vision has always been to help others, including being a huge proponent of small business. I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I am about this project as I know how much it will help bring visibility to the next level for New England businesses, organizations, institutions or venues. Bottom line: businesses can leverage the power of Google, and the Virtual Tours are stunningly beautiful.
With that said, I look at Google Virtual Tours - Inside Street Views as a potential stimulus plan for small businesses, the ultimate informal trip planning guide for travelers, and an invaluable tool for getting to know businesses better. Now, that's doing good business and doing business good!
Editor's note: if you are a businesses owner interested in Google Virtual Tours - Inside Street Views, you can learn more and sign up for more information on the VisitingNewEngland Google Business Virtual Tour page. You can also sign up directly right here to get more information.