OCTOBER 16, 2013 By Kavita Sherman
Busy corporate event planners are always looking for an edge to get their jobs done quickly. Google Business Photos may be the shortcut they need to minimize travel and make decisions faster and easier.
Launched in January, 2012, Google Business Photos is a “gee-whiz” tool that is part research, part fun. Event planners can take virtual tours of small- and medium-sized businesses, using their computer or mobile device to explore, engage with, and tour a business. The fun comes from the game-like features in Google Business Photos, which enable viewers to interact with the business by zooming in, panning up or down, moving closer to something, and rotating 360 degrees to examine all the business’ customer-facing spaces.
“Google is using this technology to create a visceral experience for people,” Gery Petrof, the owner of Gery Petrof Photography and a Google Trusted Photographer, says. “Businesses that offer venues where corporate events can be held are using Google Business Photos to give people the opportunity to ‘visit’ the site beforehand and, hopefully, attract them to come in and want to take a tour.”
According to Petrof, Google Business Photos relies on Google Maps and its Street View technology to create 360-degree virtual tours of corporate venues and retail spaces.
“It’s interesting how integrated Google products are,” Petrof says. The Google Business Photos he shoots for his customers appear in Google searches, Google Maps, and on his customers’ Google Plus Local Places pages. Additionally, the images can be embedded in and displayed on the customer’s own business webpage and social media profiles.
While many retailers use Google Business Photos, some nonprofit organizations are giving it a go. For instance, the conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) is using the technology to bring a 21st century approach to its marketing efforts. The conservancy hired Petrof to photograph its facilities, including Happy Days Lodge, Stanford House, and the conference center and Stone Cottage at Hines Hill, as a way to tout its facilities to people who want a different experience for their weddings, meetings, retreats, and/or catering events. The images Petrof took appear on the conservancy’s website and provide a panoramic walkthrough of CVNP’s facilities. Plus, prospective customers can easily share the virtual tour with colleagues and friends and get a sense of the rental spaces before they actually visit.
A business that wants to be part of Google Business Photos doesn’t need technology wizardry to get started. The main requirement is that a Trusted Photographer or Trusted Agency manages the process. In Cleveland, there are five photographers—all of whom are independent contractors and/or business owners--who have the Trusted Photographer certification, meaning that they are trained to take high-quality photos before processing and uploading them using Google’s proprietary software. Google handles the technicalities of creating the 360-degree panoramic walkthroughs, but it is the photographer who ensures the images flow as they should before they are published. After the photographer signs off, Google Business Photos are published within one to three business days.
The cost for the photographic and upload services start at $399, a one-time fee since there is no cost to be part of Google Business Photos. Plus, the business owns all rights to the images taken.
According to Petrof, the set-up, staging, and photo shoot take approximately one-and-a-half to two hours. Google’s privacy policies mandates that any person(s) shown in the panoramic imagery have their faces blurred out. However, with customers who want to show people, Petrof uses another technology and service so they can appear in the photo.
Locally, retailers have been Petrof’s most ardent customers. Recently, he photographed Vitamix’s factory store in Solon, where Vitamix sells its certified reconditioned blenders at prices beginning at $329.
“Google Business Photos brings in customers who view specific items during the virtual tour,” Petrof says. “When they arrive at the store, they are ready to buy.”
© 2013 CBC Publishing, Inc. Used with permission.
FEBRUARY 25, 2013 BY Rainer Hildenbrand & Cynthia Gale
This past autumn, my wife and I contracted with Gery Petrof, a Google Trusted Photographer to create a VIRTUAL TOUR of our 22 year-old art gallery, All Matters, on Main street in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Although we were somewhat skeptical at first, we decided that the benefits of having our place easily accessible on the web in all its 3-D splendor was at least worth a try.
The procedure to have this done by Mr. Petrof was simple, straightforward and painless. With a small deposit, Mr. Petrof proceeded to take the necessary photographs and within three days, the tour was on the web. We were able to place it on our own website with a simple link.
We were so pleased with the activity the virtual tour brought to our business that we arranged to have a HOLIDAY VIRTUAL TOUR created for All Matters Gallery as well so that patrons and customers could see the how our space was decorated for the Holidays. Eventually we decided that to have seasonal VIRTUAL TOURS made for us as our exhibits change with the seasons.
We considered the VIRTUAL TOUR to be the wisest PR advertising dollars we’ve spent in two decades of business. Some of the benefits we have experienced are:
The VIRTUAL TOUR doubled the number of gift certificates we sold during the Holiday season.
The VIRTUAL TOUR brought in customers who had seen a specific item on the tour they wanted to purchase.
Customers emailed friends and family who were going to be visiting the Chagrin Falls area for the holidays (and other special events) and invited them to take the VIRTUAL TOUR to see if they would want to visit our business during their stay. This also resulted in increased sales.
All Matters Gallery’s artists were able to send their patrons, family and friends to our website and take the tour to see their work on display at the gallery.
We can send potential suppliers, artists, and employees the link to take the VIRTUAL TOUR to give them a sense of our business in advance of negotiations.
You really have to take a VIRTUAL TOUR to appreciate the scope of this technology. On a computer, smart phone or tablet, you can begin from a 360-degree panoramic street view, then enter the gallery through the front door and proceed at a leisurely pace throughout the business, stopping wherever something catches your eye, zoom in, pan up or down and rotate a full 360-degrees from multiple points in the space.
We highly recommend a VIRTUAL TOUR for any business that wishes to expand it’s exposure to the public in a favorable, yet inexpensive, way.
© 2013 All Matters Gallery. Used with permission.
SEPTEMBER 5, 2012 BY KATHLEEN COLAN
Have you seen Google’s new business photos technology? It’s a cool and powerful tool for small businesses looking for inexpensive and creative ways to attract new customers to their bricks-and-mortar locations
Google says they want to give small businesses a helping hand by offering the new technology. It lets customers virtually walk around your business like never before. The technology features a 360-degree, street view of your business which gives online visitors a virtual look inside your location.
If it sounds futuristic, it is! Through the use of Google’s Maps and Street View technology, a Google Trusted Photographer, now can create an online virtual tour for your customers that hopefully will inspire them to walk through the door.
Once you’ve contracted with one of Google’s Trusted Photographers (and we highly recommend Gery Petrof), you’ll be able to use the 360-degree panoramic interior photos of your business on Google.com, Google Maps, and on your Google Plus Local Places page. You can also link and display your tour on your business webpage and on your social media profiles.
Petrof is [certified by Google as] a Trusted Photographer and has some amazing examples of how it works atwww.gbizphotos.com. To get a glimpse of what it can make your business look like, check out the example businesses on his website.
Once you hire a photographer — and Gery says rates range from $300 to $800 — the photographer will process and upload the photos to Google, who will then render the 360-degree panoramic interior of your business on Google.com, Google Maps, and on your Google Plus Place Page listing.
© 2012 YOUR STORY SEO
SEPTEMBER 1, 2012 by Google, Inc.
For the third consecutive month, Gery Petrof, is recognized as a Top Performer in the Cleveland market. Google rewards Trusted Photographers that meet monthly goals for number of published photoshoots and posts a ribbon by their name on the Business Photos website.
Furthermore, monthly ribbon recipients are listed first in their city. In these ways, the monthly ribbons allow top performing Trusted Photographers to stand out to local business owners.