MN Orchestra Open Rehearsal

Behind the Scenes – Virtual Tours for Theatres

I’m happy to announce virtual tours for theatres and event centers in 2022! It’s great for performance attendees to get to know the theatre safely from their own device, earn trust and be compelled, and buy a ticket to a show.

Behind the virtual tours, being knowledgeable and experienced in theatre and performance center layouts started with me at the age of 3 in Rochester. With my Dad in the male chorus, my Mom performing on the organ, and 2 older sisters who played the piano, it was inevitable for me. So I begged my parents for piano lessons… at 3.

Honors Concert at Northrop circa 197X

A favorite childhood memory was doing well enough in the MTNA piano competitions to where we were rewarded by playing group piano concerts at the UofMN Northrop Auditorium. If any of us 3 siblings made it, our parents took us up from Rochester to “the cities” to stay at a hotel… with a pool!

I guess I was the tiny kid.

This is eventually what familiarized and compelled myself to notice the different looks of theatres, auditoriums, and performance event centers. The vibe, acoustics, acceptance for dorks, and the sheer music made me want to learn more. I eventually became a Music major in college and played a senior recital in our college auditorium, and that was close to it for my performing career.

Linda (cellist), myself (hair!) circa 199X after the Senior Recital at CWU

This experience and knowledge makes for great theatre virtual tours. Being in the audience for so many events, plus performing enough to know the backstage and secret areas make this niche a perfect fit. Plus, after doing virtual tours and digital marketing in other industries, this just makes perfect sense.

There are plenty of people out there who have experiences similar to mine. When it comes to music and the arts, we’re naturally more passionate and want to know more about you, the theatre venue we’re thinking of visiting.

In your virtual tour, showcasing driving directions, where to hang my coat, showing where the restrooms are, and of course viewing the different seating options to choose are completely compelling. These are the benefits I like to provide others who are thinking of visiting your theatre.

That’s my story. What’s yours whether it’s for music, arts, or theatres in general? Sound off on Twitter!

Yellow Flowers

6 Tips on How to Stage and be Ready for your 360 Virtual Tour

You’re ready for your virtual tour. You’ve hired a company, or are thinking of hiring one. Whichever the case, here are some good pro-tips from experience to help you stage your tour and be ready beforehand.

Staging works great for both Google and custom tours, and it can really help stand out for the latter when you combine color schemes, table of content, and hotspots (info spots) to the virtual tour.

The Google tours are what people are first used to seeing as your Google tour will automatically be placed in their Maps results. These results are visited often, and may even provide indirect SEO benefits.


Here are some useful tips

In general, it’s great to have a bright interior space. If not, we have editing tools to improve all photos taken. Ensure that all your lights are working properly to have consistent light throughout the tour.

Stage your place

Stage your place just like you would want to showcase to a customer as they walk in your door. It’s these virtual, visual impressions that can bring people from their device and ready to walk in your door.

Display your safety protocols

Not just staging, but displaying your safety protocols helps make it safe, compelling, and ready for people to come visit you. Especially since 2020, customers are more conscious of distancing and sanitizing.

Safety Protocols at Check In

Safety protocols at check-in

Watch for the weather

It’s hard to measure the weather. When possible, days that are at least partly sunny are superior. Some of the 360 photos are exterior and having some blue in the sky help make the tour more compelling for the user.

Mayo Civic Center

Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, MN

Showcase specific photos

If you have machines, products, scenes, or anything you want to call out, let us know. You can have specific photos of these for your custom tour.

X-Ray Machine

X-Ray Machine

Think about Stills and Tiny (little) Planet photos

Think about opportunities for stills and Tiny Planet photos. These can be a great, creative way for your use on social media and other content. Be the center of your planet!

Twitter Post on Tiny Planets and Stills

Here’s just another example of what can be done. This is a plain scene, although you can have features such as your staff be the center of the planet!

Armory - Minneapolis

Armory – Minneapolis

Consider HIPAA and other precautions

From either HIPAA laws or personal choices, your location may need to be empty. For this reason, LocalMN is available for your tours on weekends.


LocalMN provides both custom and Google tours for you for 2 reasons:

The custom tours are superior. There are tables of contents, branding, your color schemes, and the control and assurance that all the arrows point to the right direction. This is what we recommend you embed on your website with a short and easy code that we provide for you.

Also, the tool we use to create these virtual tours allow us to publish both the Google and custom tours in not a lot of extra time. We pass this saving to you and you get the best of both worlds!

We have a lot of experience in Google My Business (now Google Business Profile). Have your virtual tour created by us and hit us up with any questions.

Virtual Tour Photo

Virtual Tours During COVID

Virtual tours for businesses have been very compelling well before the COVID pandemic came. They simply let users tour your location to get a good feel and then hopefully visit you.

Some of you are open, some of you are not. COVID still brings a challenge. Potential customers can’t just show up in person beforehand, but you can keep your visual process moving forward. 

hallway

Benefits of Local Business Virtual Tours

Visually showcase your social distancing guidelines
You may have plexiglass at your arrival to separate you from customers or social distancing floor stickers. Showcase these in your virtual tours to help ensure safety for your visitors.

Reach more potential customers with less
By letting people remotely tour your location, you can reach more while keeping face-to-face contact low to help limit the spread.

Increase conversions
At the end of the tour, you can direct users to book a reservation or appointment. It can be as easy as placing a simple form on your respective web page.

Virtual Tour Options

  • Google Street View and virtual tours – show in your Google My Business (maps) profile and it’s highly searchable
  • Custom virtual tours – like the Google Street View tours, and with customized features and branding for your business to embed on your site, social media, and other relevant places
  • Matterport – very popular and a definite leader in the real estate industry

One myth: “Having Google Virtual Tours helps your SEO rankings”. Beware of this claim. This can arguably be indirectly true since the more complete your Google My Business profile is, the better your local SEO rankings are in general. A Google virtual tour will help. With that said, virtual tours do not have a direct impact on your SEO rankings.

We hope this all helps you understand virtual tours and the impact it can make.


LocalMN specializes in virtual tours. See our Google and custom virtual tour page for more information.

Happy 2020! Showcase Your Google Listings with 360 Photos and Virtual Tours

First of all, Happy New Year! I hope you had a fun and safe New Year, and all the best wishes for you in this new decade. 

In 2010, 360 photos and virtual tours really didn’t exist. In fact, Google My Business (GMB) listings didn’t launch until June, 2014. The Rochester Post-Bulletin even recognized this in a piece written in August, 2017.

Here are a few known findings from Google:

  • When searching for businesses, consumers use mapping products 44% of the time
  • Listings with photos and a virtual tour are twice as likely to generate interest
  • On average, 41% of these place searches result in an on-site visit

A brief overview of Google 360 Street View Trusted Pro Photographers:



Have you used this as a consumer? If so, you may have gotten great visuals of inside a location, implied directions, or compelling photos enticing you to visit their door. Maybe a show at First Avenue?

You can easily bring your location to life, and this is just one part of Google My Business that can help.

Here’s to you! Happy 2020, and all the best in using Google tools to help benefit your business or organization.

Localmn Interactive offers Google Street View Photography services with plenty of knowledge, experience, and local search strategies.

New Google Local Marketing Kit for the Summer of 2019

Google has taken another step to take your local marketing efforts easier and more streamlined this 2019 Summer with their new local marketing kit. This ties in nicely in your Google My Business (GMB) profile.

Create custom posters, social posts, and more from reviews and highlights on your Business Profile on Google. All for free.

From the new Google Marketing Kit

In addition, it provides video and promotion options.

This Google-provided video is currently pretty cheesy, yet gives options including easily embedding the YouTube video within your content such as this blog. As of yet, I don’t know if you can customize this.

Another new opportunity is pre-made (social) Google Posts. They also give you the option to share these on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, plus a downloading option for you to share wherever in your content you feel relevant.

The current examples they seem to have are a bit generic, but I see them useful for filler Google Posts. My mind may change tomorrow, although I don’t see these as useful for Facebook and Twitter. I’d rather see updates that tell more of a story. But maybe that’s just me. Example:

Google Social Images
Google Social Images

If you’re a restaurant, hotel, or any other business prone to potential positive reviews, this is certainly worth filler posts.

At an enterprise level with multiple listings, this opportunity is a must with proper management. For stand alone local businesses, I have a couple reservations.

The best (or worst) part of it is that Google owns all the data. Yep, they still own the local search content you provide. For this, they even own the analytics although they show you an overview in your GMB panel. I only imagine that they use all of this to help calculate your overall authority in the results, and indirectly, your rankings in the local 3-pack.

Google does get info for these based on both content you provide in your own free Google My Business (GMB) profile combined with ratings or your organization.

very-friendly
New Small Thanks with Google Replacement?

I was a huge fan of the Small Thanks with Google Site that gave you free posters to showcase the positive things customers say about you, but the site’s now down. There’s no redirect and is now just a broken 404 page. The above-mentioned Google local marketing kit seems to be the replacement along with the other opportunities.

Google has a pretty strict policy regarding obtaining user reviews, and a lot of fantastic articles have been written regarding this. In a nutshell, soliciting positive reviews is bad. Reminding people they can leave honest reviews is good. Google is now showcasing the latter with new window decals.

Review us on Google
Review us on Google

Have you or your company/organization used the Google Local Marketing kit yet? We’d love to hear your experiences!

Single Lane on Nicollet

Businesses and Community Along Nicollet Open Streets Minneapolis

One thing I look forward to when going to Open Streets events is to look at local businesses and community involvement along the routes. Open Streets Minneapolis – Nicollet is amongst my favorite. On a single lane street that’s usually too dangerous for drivers to view anything other than the road, these local businesses are often overlooked. It’s encouraging to see them all on foot, especially if they have an event presence in front of their storefront.

Businesses

I’ve been to the St. Paul Selby Revival a few times but not the one in Minneapolis. It’s right on the Open Streets Nicollet route and they engaged with the community by having different bands play throughout the day. I believe that the Minneapolis Revival chicken and waffles are available everyday and not just Sunday, but maybe someone could confirm or deny in the comments. Transit is a good way to get here, too. The 11 and 18 Metro Transit buses take you right here along with the Nicollet and Blaisdell Ave bike lanes that cover the jaunt.

Band setting up outside the Minneapolis Revival

Band setting up outside the Minneapolis Revival

Curran’s Family Restaurant has been a comfort food staple for decades and is right on the route. Like Revival, the 11 Metro Transit bus and Nicollet and Blaisdell bike lanes take you right there. There’s a parking lot as well for drivers. They have what’s known as the tastiest Monte Cristo. They could’ve displayed for free in their own parking lot, but paid for the honor to be on the street in front of their own restaurant. I’m not a fan of this charge.

However, they were selling cookies and beer on the street and were kind enough to let me take a quick photo of them. They even offered to let my phone juice up with one of their chargers, but I digress.

Curran's Crew

Curran’s Crew outside of Curran’s Family Restaurant

Nicollet Hardware on Nicollet is a welcoming community store and community presence for the Nicollet Open Streets. Also, the most Minnesotan Google review and response you may find this week.

Nicollet Hardware

The most Minnesotan response to a review you’ll see this week

Here’s a visual example of using their space as part of the Open Streets Community.

Nicollet Hardware

Nicollet Hardware presence at Open Streets Mpls – Nicollet

The patio at Pat’s Tap is welcoming for events like Open Streets, general people watching, of course their food, and the day of the event, Lagunitas specials. Like other Nicollet Ave businesses, it’s really easy to get to by transit, foot, or bike lanes.

Pat's Tap

Pat’s Tap and Lagunitas food and drink specials

Protip: For you businesses and orgs on the Open Streets University of Minnesota + Motley route, consider a Google Post to help cross-brand your business along with the event.

Awareness

I’m always interested in learning how a few things tick, especially when it comes to bringing neighborhoods together in all four seasons. The Samatar Crossing post comes to mind as I’ve now used it a few times for either walking transportation or to see a soccer match at Currie Field.

The Art in Public Places group were kind enough to show me the plan for the Green Crescent project and greenspace between Lake Street and the Midtown Greenway, just off the new-to-be Lake Street Transit Center. Just like the Samatar Crossing, they would be looking for public artists to help make it engaging through the greenspace. Open Streets is one way they’re getting the word out.

Art in Public Places

Green Crescent calling for public artists between Lake St. and the Midtown Greenway

Little did I know, most benches in the city are from US Bench. For revenue, they sell advertisements highly visible on the bench itself for transit users. I guess this isn’t new, but didn’t know that one company provided most of these. According to one esteemed councilperson, they the Clear Channel billboards of benches and can possibly be used this winter to help build awareness for the Our Streets Winter Sidewalk Maintenance study and initiative.

 

US Bench

US Bench – Clear Channel billboards of benches

Pets

There’s always something special about taking a day to dedicate a city street to those to walk, bike, roll, stroll, eat, drink, and play. It’s all about the community, especially those with 4 legs. Often, the popular question, “can I bring my dog (or pet)” to Open Streets?”. Of course you can, they don’t worry about traffic, road diets, or infrastructure, and they’re cute, dangit.

Least Dangerous Staredown

Least Dangerous Staredown

Doggie hanging out in the sun

Doggie hanging out in the sun

Music

Music bonds people together. It makes sense that multiple musicians are always lined up. Pick your genre and you’ll mostly find it right on a street corner or a makeshift stage. Hot Pink Hangover played a a few acoustical sets on the NW corner of Nicollet and 35th.

Hot Pink Hangover playing an acoustic set

Hot Pink Hangover playing an acoustic set

Sgt. Danny was cool enough to show me his cajon box drum along with his foot tambourine.

Cajon Box Drum

Cajon Box Drum

These guys played right by the Driftwood Char Bar on the 44th block of Nicollet. They put on a great show including the accordion player/singer swinging his accordion like a flying-V guitar at times.

Band playing by the Driftwood

Band playing by the Driftwood

Roadrunner Records always has some kind of outside presence. The last time I was here, they were selling vintage albums. This band outside was really catchy. I didn’t catch their name, but if you know please let us know in the comments!

Band outside or Roadrunner Records

Band outside or Roadrunner Records

Community Engagement (fun!)

Where else can you close off a main street and play life-sized Jenga on the side?

Life sized Jenga at Open Streets

Life sized Jenga at Open Streets

And there’s bike polo right on Nicollet. Better than car traffic.

Bike Polo on Nicollet

Bike Polo on Nicollet

Our friends Beth and Tim helping people out at the Streets.mn booth.

Beth and Tim keeping the Streets.mn fort down

Beth and Tim keeping the Streets.mn fort down

Of course, there were plenty of runners enjoying the event’s Run for Beer 5K-ish.

5k-ish Run for Beers participants

5k-ish Run for Beers participants

If you’re interested in sponsoring, getting a spot or volunteering for the upcoming Open Streets University of Minnesota + Motley Open Streets, you certainly can. I look forward to attending the event as I’ve never been to one at this location.

More photos were originally taken for this post. If you like, there’s a shared Google Photos album for you to see as you please!

Article originally posted on Streets.mn


LocalMN Interactive provides content marketing marketing and local search services to the Twin Cities area communities.

The Lonely Hat

We’re Still Minnesota

We're Still Minnesota

We’re Still Minnesota

The game is over, the condo neighbors in Downtown West, Minneapolis went to their respective condos and we wake up tomorrow for a new day. Many of us will be watching the Super Bowl LII in a couple weeks, albeit maybe more for the ads and commercials or Justin Timberlake’s Halftime Show (and Pink singing the National Anthem). We’re going to extend our January discount for a few days until after the Super Bowl on Feb. 4th.

Contact us or keep on reading…

New Websites and redesigns are all custom and responsive to all devices. Our WordPress Front End Developers makes it super easy to add content on your own once the site is live. We also include local up-to-date photography to where you are (we come out for this) for your site, and of course an in-house meeting to scope out your needs before we start.

Google Trusted Street View photography are deeply discounted. We’re going all out and cutting it in half. Was $500. Now $250. We come out in the cold to take up-to-date, current photos, 360 degree photos, Virtual Tours, and give you up to 4 hours of Local Search Consulting. You win!

To get started, just fill in the quick form here and enter “SKOL” in the subject line. Your information will not be shared with any outside sources. Ever. Only Eagles fans would do that.

We’ll change the header now.

We Are Minnesota!