InstaVR Interviews: Meet the VR Practitioners
InstaVR Interviews is a blog series where we turn the spotlight on our customers. We find out why they create VR, how they use InstaVR, and what the future of VR will look like. To read more interviews, visit the InstaVR Interviews homepage.
Conor Todd, Founder of Concierge VR360 (“CVR360”)
CVR360 born from the knowledge that users are captivated by VR experiences; initial use case is for promoting restaurants, combining 360 tour with restaurant specific information
Question: Can you tell us about the origins of Concierge VR360?
The idea started a year ago when I was working for a local marketing company. I was trying to get businesses and clients interested in VR and 360. I was pitching them, “Hey, this has the opportunity to connect with people.”
I’m very interested in the click-through and view-through rates of 360 experiences. The fact that people are captivated by them.
So I was trying to pitch people on the idea that we should be creating some of their content in 360 because people will check it out. And the people that do look at it will stay and really explore it.
At that time, a year ago, I didn’t know about InstaVR. I also don’t have any coding background, to be quite frank, apart from HTML. And my bosses said we don’t have those capabilities in-house, so let’s not pitch it.
But then I started talking with my friend Jessie, who has been developing a VR concept for storage in conjunction with a CMS company. The idea of turning CVR360 into a business started after we stopped offering it at that marketing firm I was at.
I’ve developed it on my own and it’s a simple idea — it started with hotels, and giving travelers a way to explore restaurants in the area before they go. The idea was to mitigate being let down by the experience. We call it “Visual Collateral” when we talk to people at the hotels.
Now that we’ve built the prototype, I’ve started taking it to hotels and showing it to people there. So CVR360 is about putting all the information for a restaurant in one place. We look at so many different places — like Yelp, Zagat, and Social Media. We combine that with the visuals of the environment, giving you a full experience. You can then figure out “Is the ambience to my liking?” and “Does the information on the restaurant make me want to go there?”
Prototype built using still images from the Yi camera; wants to keep VR as accessible as possible to as many people
Question: For your initial app, what equipment did you use? And is it for still images or video?
Filming has been done with the Yi camera. It’s great for now. The whole 360 and VR industry is moving so quickly though. I’ll probably be getting the new Insta360 Pro.
But for now it’s just been still images. That goes with my thought that for that everyday customer — that traveler — we don’t want to make VR any more intimidating than it already is. It’s been difficult for some people to get into 360 and VR because the technology and features have grown so quickly without the everyday person being able to connect with it.
So the thought is let’s keep it very simple using static images. We’ll do more video work down the line, but for the prototype, we wanted to just keep it simple.
Jesse James (UX Designer) with Conor (Right)
Conor uses Apple’s Preview feature and screen grabs to add interactivity
Question: You’ve done some cool overlays in the prototype you shared. Can you discuss how you built those?
That was really easy. I just used the new features of Preview on Apple. It involved finding images online and cutting them down to size to fit the icons. The reason I spent time doing that was to use some trusted names and credit them appropriately. That seemed like the best way to do it.
Hotspots have gotten major use from me. Particularly using Hotspots with text. If you click around in the experience, the Yelp reviews are screen grabs where we’re inserting the .jpgs.
Promotion done through partnerships with municipalities and associated non-profits
Question: What are the distribution and promotion plans for the VR you’re building?
In my mind, InstaVR is the perfect platform to get going on and start taking on clients.
The plan is to work in conjunction with city tourism departments. We want to work with municipalities or non-profits associated with the cities.
So here in Annapolis, for instance, we’re having conversations with Visit Annapolis, which is a non-profit that works with a local marketing firm that does all of the downtown partnerships. All the restaurants are a part of it, and they help them do advertising. It helps promote Annapolis in general.
For distribution, we see the opportunity as let’s partner with these entities that already have big channels that are robust and full of content, that people are used to going to when looking for information about the city. Let’s work in conjunction with them to engage local businesses, to purchase production that we assemble. We can then hand it off to places like Visit Annapolis, saying here’s this great piece of content we produced and paid for, but we’re giving it to you to reach the right people and groups.
We will do a standalone app for iOS and Android. For right now though, we’re just doing Web apps. We really want to make it easy to get to and access. I love the fact that it publishes to the Web, and it looks great on your browser or you can throw it in a pair of Google Cardboard.
Business plan includes filming cost + hosting fees; will provide services to Baltimore-DC-Annapolis-Philadelphia-New York
Question: How do you plan on charging clients? And what geographic footprint are you covering?
We want to go to the restaurants and engage them to purchase production. That would be an upfront cost, basically an hourly fee.
Then we’ll charge them a hosting fee to maintain the content. And the subscription will allow for updates, since restaurants inherently change — new beers, different specials, all those things shift over time.
The subscription could be quarterly or monthly, depending on if they want a lot of updates.
We’re aggressive. We’re going after Baltimore, DC, Annapolis, and then up towards Philadelphia and New York as well. I’m originally from New York, so it’s easy for me to get up there and do work.
Thank you to Conor Todd of CVR360. If you’re in the restaurant, hospitality, or CVB industries, and are interested in utilizing virtual reality for promotion, you can connect with Todd on LinkedIn.