Virtual walk around Wellington's highlights
Start-up company Beek is giving the world a virtual peek at Wellington tourist attractions, restaurants and hotels.
The company creates virtual walkthroughs of sites and buildings for the web to provide prospective visitors with an interactive destination guide.
Chief executive Ben Knill says customers include Wellington Opera House and St James Theatre, the Duxton and Bolton hotels, the Conservation Department – which commissioned a tour of Somes Island – the East by West Ferry, and Petone's Stansborough Mill.
The three-person company has also photographed well-known Wellington scenes such as the waterfront and the Mt Victoria lookout, and customers can use those and others' pictures as part of their virtual guides.
The tours are embedded on businesses' websites – much like a YouTube video.
"Everybody is selling everybody else as a destination. There's no point going, `We're a nice hotel, come here because we're doing cheap rooms'. People aren't going to go somewhere because the rooms are cheap; people go because there's lots of cool things to do.
"We enable people to show what's around them and give an impression of what the experience is like.
"You can look around the Bolton Hotel and look at the rooms and pool and the gym and the restaurant, where menus flip up, and there are voiceovers of people describing it and music ... from there you can go straight out into the street and go to Te Papa and the zoo and check out a few of the restaurants along the way."
Mr Knill says Beek charges on a per-scene basis, with each scene costing about $200 to shoot and $100 a year for hosting and support.
Early feedback indicates the virtual walkthroughs do generate business, with Irish bar d4 reporting an upswing in bookings from people outside Wellington, says Mr Knill, a finalist in young tourism entrepreneur category at the Tourism Industry Awards.
The firm has teamed up with Positively Wellington Tourism, which will promote its service to tour operators. It wants to find other online partners, and is looking to raise capital to further develop its back-end systems.
"We are looking for people internationally who want to be able to offer the same product. We'd give them the back-end system so all they would do is take photos and upload them."
The company plans to develop its software so people can download interactive tours of sites to their iPhones, iPads and Android smartphones, and – once they've visited – superimpose their own images and videos on them.
"People can make an itinerary and show people where they're planning on going or where they've been."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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