New Google feature poised to add area businessesBy Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | October 23,2012People around the world might soon be able to poke their heads into Rutland stores without leaving home.
A Google contractor will spend November in the Rutland-Killington area adding local businesses to the “indoors” feature of Google Maps’ street view.
Google Maps allows a user to search for maps and overlay them on satellite images. Zoom in close enough and Google switches to “street view,” a panoramic, street-level photograph of the area. While not all of Rutland is visible in street view, downtown is.
“Indoors” takes a viewer, well, indoors.
“We take where the street view left off,” contractor Jim Hilker said. “It gives them a whole new level of exposure and Google presence. It’s not just street view maps — it’s attached to their Google search. ... People can tap that and be transported right into the business and look around.”
Hilker said he was taking photos in Burlington last week. He said he did not know the number of businesses nationwide that had signed up, but believed it was at least 10,000.
“It’s pretty much up and running all over the U.S. and Canada and New Zealand and France and England,” he said. “We just went public May 1, even though all of these countries have integrated it to some degree.”
Joining “indoors” costs a “small one-time fee” after which it is permanently in the Google servers, though updated photos can be purchased. Hilker would not say how much the fee is.
“There’s a base fee and then it varies depending on the size of the business,” he said. It’s a small fee — I tell people it’s less than the cost of a typical newspaper ad.”
Business owners must sign up in advance, which they can do at www.streetviewindoors.com.
Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Thomas Donahue was not aware of the program when asked about it last week, but was enthusiastic after reading up on it.
“It seems like a great idea — obviously more advantageous to some than others — but I think it could be advantageous to many,” he said. “Online is where it’s at these days.”
Donahue said the more tourism-related business like hotels and restaurants would be the most obvious candidates.
“Obviously, if you walk into a bank, you know what it’s supposed to look like,” he said. “From a personal standpoint, gymnasiums would be great, fitness centers. People are intimidated walking through that door for the first time. If you can look at it online and decide if it’s for you first, it’s easier to go.”
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