By ABBEY KUNKLE
Special to the PRESS
The South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce met Feb. 24 for their monthly meeting. The goal of the Chamber is simply to promote business, and welcomed Karla Fernandez Parker of K. Fernandez Marketing along with Google representatives Elijah and Kristie Whites who gave a presentation on the benefits of the program Google Business View.
The Chamber provided coffee and pastries and opened with an “Introduction Express” where business owners and community members provided short introductions ensuring a comfortable and open environment for questions and discussion to take place.
Kristie Whites, owner of Austin-based marketing company Serving Social along with Elijah Whites, director of photography at Rebranding360, presented an overview of the program. This program provides consumers with an opportunity to walk through a business on a virtual tour, which is powered by the similar Google Street View technology.
Virtual tours have been done in the past, but Google Business View differs in that rather than a video, the virtual tour is made with a series of photos digitally stitched together allowing users to zoom in or move to different areas when and where they want. According to the representatives, 87 percent of customers research a business online before they ever walk through the door and 97 percent of them use Google. Along with the virtual tour of a business, the Google agency will provide high quality images all of which will be housed on the business’s website as well as on a free Google Plus page and similar social media sites like Facebook and can be accessed on a computer or mobile device. As stated by Elijah Whites, “Google makes sure that we capture your business for what it is and what you have to offer.” Furthermore, the program boasts a full turnkey service that provides experts to assist with websites, graphic design, and coding images with keywords that aid businesses rank higher in online search engines. In regards to the importance of rank on Google searches, Kristie Whites said, “Basically, guys, to break it down for you, if you’re not on the first page of Google, you’re basically in the Sahara because not many people travel past the first page when searching.”
Chamber President Roxanne Guenzel said, “We thought this was important to all of our businesses because we don’t get an opportunity to hear about innovative ideas and ways to promote your business, and we felt like anything that we could do, that the Chamber could do, to help you understand how you could better promote your business to people who are tied to their phones that come here was important.”
Later this month, the SPI Chamber of Commerce Business Services Committee along with the University of Texas Pan American (UTPA) Small Business Development Center will present a training class on ‘Insurance Options for Small Businesses’ to be held March 26 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the South Padre Island Visitors Center.
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