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Petersfield, Hants, United Kingdom, 2009/09/20 - Surrey’s County town of Guildford launches virtual tour and interactive map to encourage ‘internet’ footfall to the High Street. Using a combination of Google Maps and panoramic photos and still pictures to allow users to virtually visit Guildford.
Surrey's County town of Guildford has launched a virtual tour of their town, that plans to attract 'internet' footfall to the High Street. The tour, which uses a combination of Google Maps and sequences of either video, static, or 360 degree panoramic photography, is supplied by VR2020.com and is seen as 'pioneering' by Guildford Town Centre Manager, Chris Howard. "We already have over 35 shops, restaurants and businesses signed up and are really delighted that there has been so much interest, particularly in the current economic climate.'
Hosted on the town website guildford.org.uk the technology allows internet users to 'virtually' walk through the town centre's High Street and discover secret side streets; exploring local businesses through 'hotspot's on doors or entrances, users can visit, experience Guildford's colourful retail, restaurants and business by viewing the media rich imagery. They can even download brochures, menu and make table reservations at participating restaurants! A 'Google Map' is also available so users can take the tour from featured hotspots and are able to 'get their bearings'.
Sal Cardu, creator and supplier of the technology through his company VR2020.com, said, 'We know that 85% of off-line shopping begins on-line. As shoppers and visitors search, they will be able to experience what Guildford has to offer. When they find a business that they're interested in they can download menus or special offers, send the tour to other people and even easily print off the hotspot page they are interested in, along with the map and accompanying information and contact details.'
The customer or tour-user can 'virtually' step into participating and are able to email shops and businesses as well as make contact using Skype and VoIP. The participating shops and businesses can control all the content themselves through a simple content management system and therefore keep content fresh and relevant.
Phil Metcalf from Loch Fyne in Chapel Street said, 'I think the virtual tour is a fantastic use of modern IT and hopefully Guildford will be the first of many cities to use this. The panoramic photos really help to show off the city.'
Jo Harbottle and Carol Clark from Jo Clarks in the High Street said 'In the 16 years we have been in business this is the first time we have ever been excited by a marketing proposition and it is also the first time we have got involved. It is a great idea and we think our customers who haven't found us yet “will love it!'
Independent consultant, Janet McWilliam, who has helped Sal Cardu and Chris Howard to get the Guildford project off the ground said, 'Lots of market towns around the UK could benefit from this sort of technology. We know people like to research areas before they travel and we know that visitors often are not aware of how unique and distinctive many market towns can be. This technology is really exciting. It allows these two parts to come together and offers users an 'appetising wide-ranging experience' of Guildford that normally one wouldn't get until at least their first or second visit.'
Kevin Lorimer, Chairman of Guildford Town Centre Management Group said, 'The 360 technology used is also truly 360. And helps turn the web into an experience and it is this experience that we hope will encourage people to the High Street to visit Guildford town centre and Guildford businesses in person.''
For more information about this Guildford Project (guildford.org.uk), please contact Chris Howard on 01483 444331.