It’s now possible to see a 3D view of just about any New Zealand street, with the arrival of Google Streetview .
It’s revolutionised the way you give people directions, and it has big implications for business, too.
Yesterday I attended a top secret briefing (well, it was pretty informal, but really exciting) along with some other new media junkies to see just what you can do with Google streetview.
If you’re in retail and/or tourism, here’s what it means:
- It’s easier to find you now, and to get a deeper impression of what your place of business is like.
- If you haven’t already listed your business on Google maps or Finda (the service that provides Google its business listings), get on there. It’s free, and it’s arguably more important now than the Yellow Pages. If you’re a restaurant or cafe, make sure you see what’s being said about you on sites like menumania as well. You can’t control the conversation but you can participate.
- Claim your listing. Google maps acts as a kind of directory, and by claiming your business you can enhance your listing with photos and even YouTube video. (More tips on online video here )
Okay, so these points aren’t specifically to do with Google Street View, but they are important developments. Just have a look at what comes up when you search for cafes in the Auckland CBD :
Now, more than ever before, those businesses have the option to give someone a taste of their location. Whether it’s a YouTube video you add, or the streetview image Google captured on its way through, your customers now have more information to go on.
You don’t really need a website any more . But it doesn’t hurt to have one, and the handy embed feature means you can embed a streetview-enabled map on your website, to make sure you’re easy to find.
- Orientation doesn’t just have to be a euphemism for the high jinks of O week. You can give potential students a virtual tour of your campus. One university in Australia did this, and offered a great service to its students. It’s something you’ll have to ask Google to do, since for privacy reasons they normally only photograph public roads. But definitely worth it for your students if they can arrive on their first day, actually knowing where to go.
These suggestions are just scratching the surface of the possibilities. From Google’s press pack, here are some suggestions how any business or organisation can use Google maps:
1. Help overseas and domestic tourists plan itineraries by showing them famous landmarks and lesser known secrets.
2. Promote your business by embedding a street view image on your website and make it easier for customers to find you.
3. Scout for new office locations from the comfort of your chair.
4. Check the location of customer and supplier offices before leaving your desk.
5. Evaluate locations for marketing campaigns, film shoots or product launches.
6. Help new employees by showing them your office location, where to park, or the nearest bus or train stop.
7. Architects and local councils can get a feel for the style of particular areas to help with town planning.
8. News publishers can embed street view images on their websites to show the location of news events.
9. Emergency services personnel – fire, police, ambulance – can view exact locations before arriving.
10. Schools can incorporate street view into geography or history lessons.