Today’s consumer likes to scout potential destinations, especially if there’s travel time involved. They’ll use review sites like Yelp! to make sure the business gets approval from other visitors, and often use Google’s street view to check out the outside and also make it easier for them to find once they are there.
But imagine if you could offer that potential customer another option -- what if you could let the customer step off the street and into your business and look around, just like they do on Google’s street view?
This option already exists. All it takes is a certified Google photographer to take panoramic shots from inside your building and upload them to Google. The pictures -- or virtual tour -- will even appear in your search results as a “see inside” link (see this example of a Cleveland tavern) on the right side of the page, giving people a preview of what to expect from your business. You can also put the tour on your website, creating a new way to interact with potential customers.
Making a virtual tour is a great way to show people what you have to offer without the need for them to leave their living room, and they are a proven method of increasing interest.
Google conducted a survey in July 2015 and found the following:
- Virtual tours help double interest in business listings. Those who view a virtual tour are twice as likely to be interested in booking a reservation, and among those 18-34, they are 130 percent more likely to book based on the virtual tour.
- Two out of three people want more virtual tours. 67 percent of those surveyed indicated they want more business listing to include virtual tours. Only 7 percent said more virtual tours were unnecessary.
Who can benefit from a virtual tour?
Businesses in the restaurant, hospitality and retail sectors are most likely to benefit from a virtual tour. If your business is unique, a virtual tour is a great way to show potential visitors the ambiance and decor of your location, helping entice them to visit you in person.
More than 70 million unique smartphone visitors use Google Maps each year and nearly four million sites embed its functionality. These are all visitors that could be presented with the option of a virtual tour of your business when searching for places to eat, places to shop or places to stay.
Still photos are better than nothing, but the panoramic nature of the virtual tours allow the visitor to take control, looking where they want to look and getting a good feel for your business. There’s also a sense of trust that’s established. Still photos can be framed in a way that hides imperfections or makes things look bigger or more deluxe than they really are. A virtual tour allows the visitor to look around, getting the full experience and knowing there is nothing hidden or exaggerated.
Why not take advantage of something that entices web visitors to see your business in person while also setting yourself apart from the competition?
Todd Shryock is the director of content for Emerge. If you are ready to create a virtual tour for your business or have further questions, contact him at tshryock@EmergeInc.com.