Has your business adapted & evolved to meet the Coronavirus challenge? - What to do if no-one's willing to visit you?
I don't know what will happen of the next few weeks given the CoVID-19 outbreak; neither does the Government, nor scientists working in the area (they're still collecting data and assimilating it) but what I do know is that it won't last forever and perhaps not even past the summer of 2020. If you're an events manager that has already had to cancel or postpone your event, or a nursery owner that has had to close for now, what are you doing to get people through the door of your venue, so you have bookings for later this year and beyond, when, for now, people are too worried to venture out to view your facilities?
We're still in the early stages of this pandemic and there are solutions for business continuity such as allowing staff to work from home where possible. Most of the solutions I've heard about essentially add up to the same thing: Don't meet other people and stay away from crowds.
Events due at the NEC from last weekend were either postponed (The Photography Show) or cancelled (The Home Automation Show) with a knock-on for my sector. I have heard from events photographers that their services have been stood down for now. All understandable, but I suspect events managers are concerned with the current situation. Venues rely on people visiting sites so they can see their layout; where the bars and toilets are situated, or what access is like for exhibitors. Of course, their will be photographs on websites showing the highlights of the venue. That's great, but it doesn't help get a sense of the space, the style, the serviceability of the venue.
This week we hear that private nurseries are temporarily closing and it will be on the minds of these business owners of how many parents will have had a change of circumstances, preventing them from using a nursery's services once things get back to normal. Unfilled nursery places mean less profitability, yet without the ability to show parents around the facility how will they get new kids signed up?
A possible answer for both sectors are virtual visits in the form of 360° photographic tours. These tours are similar to Google Street View with its panoramic images of streets, roads, houses and open spaces, but these 360° photos are of indoor places. No; it's not quite the same as actually being in the venue, but, with a virtual reality (VR) headset (available from retailers from as little as £15.00, which are used with smartphones) your prospects could view your place room by room; floor by floor. 360° photography is a simple method of creating a set of images that take in all aspects of your venue's facilities and, by compiling these images into a tour, your 'visitors' can walk through the site without leaving their own home or office. All the tours are online, so as long as your visitors have internet access, they can view them even without a VR headset. Access is via a standard, modern internet browser such as Google Chrome, Apple Safari or Mozilla's Opera, from smart phone, laptop, tablet or desktop. Being as the technology is platform agnostic, tours operate across any hardware as long as it has a display.
What else can these tour do? You can embed video, stills photography and internet (hyper)links into the 360° photo scenes, as well as information notes for any area that may require more explanation. For example, your nursery could use this to explain how many babies can use the cribs in the quiet room or, at a venue, to detail the fire exits for each floor.
Would you like to see an example? Here are two. For Ramsgate Football club's 360°photo tour, there's coverage of the grounds, stands, hospitality room and the clubhouse area with its bar. It shows where to park and how to access the stands to see a game. Notice the branding at the bottom of each 360° photo too. tour.urhere.co.uk/tours/EjcN6XKMc
At Dartford Big Local, its retail space also has an AV enabled meeting room and co-working spaces. You wouldn't know that if you'd merely wandered in from the street. The tour, embedded on home page of its website, shows the entire layout out the building. www.dartfordbl.org.uk/
Tours with 360° photos may be as few as a couple of panoramic images to 40 or 50 plus. These could be part of a solution for any manager looking at business continuity where getting people viewing facilities is hampered for now because of the restrictions of movements. For a full tour, prices are £249, allowing for up to 15 panoramic scenes and hosting for the first year. If your venue is in Kent or South East London, that is an all in price (no additional travel costs) If you are looking for a simple one or two images for a tour, costs are only £80/hr (plus any travel expenditure) Full details are available from me by email.
Here's an offer for friends of Supply My Business: Commission me create your 360° business tour before May 22nd 2020, and I'll defer the invoice for three months from when the work is carried out. With work slowing for many businesses right now, I recognise that cash flow could be a barrier to using this service, so this offer means you can get the work carried out and use it now - when you'll need it most!