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360-Degree Views of Local Businesses Coming to Google Maps

Business virtual tours



“Sometimes it seems like the crowd is 10 percent Google employees,” said Yaron Milgram, owner of the restaurant Local Mission Eatery.

Of course, the tech crowd comes with certain advantages, and it was through a contact at the company that Milgrom became aware of a new project called Google Business Photos and signed the eatery up to be part of the pilot program.

Soon, users of Google Maps won’t simply have the option of zooming in on, say, the front door of a stranger’s house in another state, but will be able to take detailed virtual tours of businesses. In April 2010 Google announced its plan to include photos of businesses’ interiors on their Google Places pages, and in May 2011 the company announced its plan to take things a step further, providing 360-degree views of business interiors.

On Nov. 28, a Google photographer paid an off-hours visit to Local Mission Eatery to shoot the interior while it was devoid of patrons.

Milgrom said the photographer arrived with a camera on a tripod “with some relatively fancy hardware, but not ridiculously fancy.”

Milgrom thinks giving people the opportunity to tour his business virtually will encourage people to come into the restaurant, a modern but homey space with lots of wood accents, a living wall, a cookbook library, and a coffee and pastry bar tucked in the back. He also thinks that it will create an added value for potential customers who can call and reserve specific tables after viewing.

And there’s also the added advantage of getting in on the ground floor.

“I think in the short term, people may come to our website just because we’ll be included in the initial launch,” Milgrom said.

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