Google unveils biz photo service in Indianapolis

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Thinking about having dinner at St. Elmo Steak House in downtown Indianapolis?

Now you can take a virtual tour of the iconic restaurant without leaving the comfort of your own home, thanks to a new service Google made available in Indianapolis on Tuesday.

The online search giant launched its Business Photos service in April 2010, but it’s been limited to larger cities such as Chicago and New York. Within the past five months Google also rolled out the service in Atlanta, Baltimore and Cincinnati, as well as internationally.

For St. Elmo, Google’s Business Photos was an easy sell, said Bryn Jones, the restaurant’s director of marketing.

“It literally lets people inside your business without having to go there,” he said. “For us, there may be an event planner in California that we can show a 360-[degree] view of one of our meeting rooms.”

Contracted photographers took more than 300 photos of St. Elmo’s interior, which spans three separate buildings, to provide a fluid tour of the eatery.

Anyone who enters the St. Elmo name into Google can take the tour by clicking on a “see inside” tab next to the restaurant’s listing on the search results. St. Elmo also has uploaded the tour onto its Facebook page and will have it available on its website within the next few weeks, Jones said.

The cost of the service starts at $300. St. Elmo paid $700, plus another $800 to include its downtown and north-side locations of sister restaurant Harry & Izzy’s.

Indianapolis resident Cassandra Salimeno and her husband Damian are two of four independent photographers in Indiana that have completed Google’s certification process to shoot the virtual tours on a contract basis.

They’ve completed about two dozen jobs in the Indianapolis area, including photo shoots for Cigar Haven in Fishers, Grapevine Cottage in Zionsville and Fishers, and for the Evan Lurie and Eye On Art galleries in Carmel.

“The hardest part is explaining to people something they haven’t seen or heard [of] before,” Cassandra Salimeno said.

Google lists about 100 photographers in the United States who are certified to take business photos.


  • Google Business Photos Is Growing Fast
    Since this article, we have shot Google Tours for nearly 100 Indy businesses! Most of our clients have said, "It's already paid for itself". We hope to put all Indianapolis Businesses On The Map! Just Google, TourTheMap.Com
  • Get food stamps
    Food stamps are cheaper than eating out. If I knew what restaurant you were I would never eat there. You probably cut out pest control service too.
  • Great deal from a Google certified photographer
    The price didn't seem high at all - I think it's a down right great deal! I've seen panoramic virtual tours start at $4800.00 plus you have to pay for their travel fee - we had them come out to our business and we were more than satisfied with their expertise, their professionalism, and the fact they deliver EXACTLY as they promise - no fancy sales promises and no high pressure sales TACTICS - as a business owner i don't suffer that kind of nonsense. I want my investment to have a return and this definitely does. By being on a Google platform that has ties to a satelite location it builds trust to the consumer that you are not some fly-by-night company and that you have a business that is committed to their customers.
  • A reasonably priced service
    I'm one of the Google Trusted photographers in Indiana. In response to the last comment made, the Google virtual tours can be embedded on websites and social media pages, like Facebook and the viewer can experience the tour w/o having to leave those pages. In addition, when the business embeds the tour, they can pick the point at which they want the tour to start. This can change as many times as they would like and can be embedded multiple times, too. As far as pricing being high, I have to say a comment like that surprises me. I have done research and found that similar tours w/o Google as the host, can cost thousands of dollars. Matter of fact, the going rate is $200 per panoramic photo. We have been charging around $30 per panoramic photo. Keep in mind our cost as a photographer, too. We have taxes to pay, healthcare, overhead, legal fees, accountant fees, equipment costs, gas, mileage, marketing, and a lot of other costs, including our time. We too, are just another small Indiana business providing a great service to other Indiana businesses. I encourage all business owners who are interested in learning more, to research it. On Google's site, they have all the Trusted Photographers listed with their websites. You can see, we're fair market value maybe even slightly under. We also encourage you to contact a business who has had this done, we haven't had any negative reviews about their tours or us.
  • Priced Highly
    My first concern was that the price seemed high ($1500 for three locations). My company will provide fantastic panoramic virtual tours with much more interactivity for less. Then, I wondered, "Who owns the tours when they're completed?" With us, the client owns the tour, and can disseminate it however they choose. Plus, visitors can view the tour without ever leaving the client's site, according to the client's wishes. Actually, sounds like another winner...for Google. (This is not intended to be an advertisement, but a broader view of the virtual tour market.)
    • Don't Be Underwhelmed
      By using Google Business Photos, businesses can easily embed tours on websites and Facebook without special plug-ins and costly monthly fees, making it very different from other sites and firms. Additionally, these interactive tours are not only integrated on Google Maps, but they are also integrated on the business's Local Plus Pages, Google Search Results and other Google Properties.
    • Underwhelmed
      Other than the fact this has the Google name attached to it, how is this different from the technology that hotel and real estate sites and architecture firms have been using for several years? It's cool technology, but it's not new.

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