Expedia-owned vacation sites HomeAway, VRBO right now provide unified virtual tours

As soon as spatial imagery became available, marketers envisioned utilizing it for the travel industry. Feel your self in that vacation spot, the thinking will go, and you’ re ready to register.

One problem for marketing experts is that there are many different kinds of spatial symbolism formats, and different kinds of user interfaces.

Now, Expedia-owned holiday rental site HomeAway and its vacation web site VRBO are presenting unified Digital Tours — 360-degree, linked circular photos that allow a customer to “ walk through a place, ” built from any kind of spherical picture assets and unified under the exact same interface. The spherical photos are usually linked so that a visitor may walk, for instance, from room in order to room.

Individual format, single interface. While other sites have shown 360-degree photos, Senior Product Supervisor Ben James said the HomeAway sites are the first to provide an one file format with a single user interface, however the actual locations could be captured along with any of the dozens of applications and tips for taking linked spherical photos.   When an user goes to HomeAway or even VRBO and sees a key to take a Virtual Tour, the particular proprietary HomeAway player automatically lots in the browser as the 360 circular tour does.

Previously, the different apps and ways for capturing connected spherical photos also came with various players and different interfaces. “ Among the issues we ran into, ” James said, “ was sporadic experiences. ”

At this point, the application provider or production company sends the spherical photo resources in HomeAway’ s own extendable to the sites, along with the metadata that will converts navigation into the HomeAway interface.

Partnering along with two providers, initially. Currently, James said, HomeAway is certainly partnering with two providers, InsideMaps and TruPlace. InsideMaps offers equipment and software for spherical picture capture, and TruPlace provides an expert service that employs its own software program.

HomeAway, he stated, is also working with other application suppliers to support the file format and unique interface. The idea is that, in the near future, also mom-and-pop rental properties will be able to catch spherical photos with an iPhone plus any available application, and share all of them in the proper format/UI to HomeAway.

How to see it . You can test this out here , where a “ take a virtual tour” screen need to show up on the third image. One particular caution: HomeAway is conducting A/B testing, so half the time this page loads the virtual trip won’ t be present. If you can’ t see it, clear your internet browser cache and try again, or even use Google Incognito mode within Chrome.

HomeAway plus VRBO will accept photo assets from InsideMap or TruPlace anywhere in the world, however the focus right now in on creating assets in 20 U. S. markets.

Initial results . James said HomeAway ran tests on 360-degree virtual tours in its user lab, where facial recognition showed that test subjects had twice the emotional engagement than what they familiar with regular photos, but so far you can find no stats as to whether these virtual tours improve engagement or even boost rentals.

Why you should care. Navigable tours are a natural way to marketplace distant locations, but key difficulties of usability and site assistance have been caused by the wide variety of gamers, formats and user navigation.

If successful, HomeAway plus VRBO’ s proprietary effort to resolve these problems may lead to similar initiatives by other travel sites, and maybe may evolve into an industry-wide standard.

This particular story first appeared on MarTech These days. For more on marketing technology, click here.


About The Author

Barry Levine covers marketing technologies for Third Door Media. Earlier, he covered this space like a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and has written about these and other technology subjects for such publications since CMSWire and NewsFactor. He created and led the web site/unit on PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked being an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PERFORM IT BY EAR: The First COMPACT DISC Game; founded and led a completely independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, dependent at Harvard and M. We. T.; and served over 5 years as a consultant to the Mirielle. I. T. Media Lab. You will discover him at LinkedIn, and on Tweets at xBarryLevine.

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