People planning a trip to Miami Beach now
can scope out hotels before they book by taking virtual tours at
SuperTour.com, a Web site that provides indoor and outdoor views of
properties in the city.
you to get something close to a try-it-before-you-book-it
experience, said SuperTour CEO Jim Schoonmaker.
Whats the beach
like? The pool? The restaurant? Are the rooms comfortable and
the standard, 360-degree photos that many travel sites
But what makes
the site next generation, Schoonmaker said, is its digital
notion of a virtual tour is that youve got a map, and you can spin
around and see something, said Schoonmaker. That technology has
been around a while, but its not really the experience of being
technology Schoonmaker called panamorph, SuperTour enables users to
move beyond the 360-degree globe to another point of
We allow you to
walk through the space, said Schoonmaker. You experience the
transition between different globes.
asserts that the increased mobility of the virtual tour lends
visitors a sense of confidence because they can see beyond a small
set of canned pictures that hotel management wants you to
On SuperTour.com, users
can walk from place to place on hotel grounds.
The system also
enables users to walk down Ocean Drive or onto the beach. In
addition to hotels, the database includes a number of restaurants,
museums and attractions, all of which can be explored.
displays a map on the right panel and an eye-level view on the
left. The map shows the location, the direction of the current
view, the location of other observation globes and the routes
Kiosk is provided for each hotel. Clicking Overview provides a
hotel description on Expedia. Reviews opens up reviews from Trip Advisor. When
the subject is a restaurant, the system provides multiple reviews
from Frommers, AOL CityGuide or other sources.
If the user
clicks on Rooms and Rates the system offers a choice of going to Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz or the
hotels own booking engine to compare prices or to book a
with Web sites can work out arrangements with SuperTour to link to
the site and enable their Web clients to book through the agency
site so agents can earn commissions, although the amount of the
commission must be negotiated privately with SuperTour.
negotiating a partnership with SuperTour, travel agents can use the
system to take their clients on virtual tours of hotels, then book
them any way they want. There is no charge for using the
At the moment, I
think that travel agents are going to benefit more than we will,
Schoonmaker said. The content is there. We can use their IATA
number and work with them to share the commission structure. We are
already hooking up with some of the larger firms.
building its client list in Miami Beach, where it now works with
100 hotels. About a third of them have the full walk-through
The company also
works with about 100 hotels in Las Vegas. It launched at the end of
March in Puerto Rico with 30 to 40 hotels and plans to cover 15 to
20 of the most popular Caribbean destinations by the end of the
reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].