Year in review 2018

What an amazing year!

Great team, fantastic clients and still the same passion for innovation in capture technology.

The end of the year provides the perfect opportunity to look back over the last 12 months…

We were lucky to install our panoramic selfie capture solution at prime events across the globe - helping brands to amplify their visibility on social media. From the hot Australian Goldcoast (Commonwealth Games) to the cold, snowy peaks of Jasnà in the Czech Republic (Coca-Cola Olympic Village), we've travelled the world.

On our home soil, we successfully launched two permanent installations in Brussels during the summer. Tourists took more than 35.000 panoramic selfies at Grand Place and The Atomium - promoting the city among their friends and family.

But the highlight of this year is undoubtedly the strategic partnership agreed in August with Picsolve - the leading digital content capture partner for world-class visitor destinations. Our collaboration had started earlier in April with a first permanent installation at Studio City Macau but working now closely with their team is very inspiring. We can't wait for 2019. The best is yet to come.

Happy New Year!

Panora.me signs a technological partnership with Picsolve

The strategic partnership agreed with Picsolve not only focuses on the panoramic selfie technology, but also on the development of other content capture innovations.

After two years of existence, the Belgian startup announced today the signature of an exclusive strategic agreement with Picsolve. With 500 facilities around the world, Picsolve is the leading digital content capture partner for world-class visitor destinations.

For Picsolve, this agreement includes a worldwide exclusivity on the panoramic selfie technology developed by the startup financed by Leansquare (Meusinvest). Successfully launched in summer 2016 on the Grand-Place in Brussels and in the Atomium, panoramic selfie allows tourists to trigger a photo device from a high viewpoint. They then receive their panoramic selfie through email: a short video which starts with a close framing, then zooms out spectacularly, to reveal the location’s panorama in its entirety.

Since then, Panora.me has installed the solution at several events, like the Earth Hour Challenge in Dubai, the Commonwealth Games in Australia, or even the Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas. Last week, the Panora.me teams were ready to get down to the job during National Day and on Tomorrowland. They are actively preparing the next Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix, which will take place at the end of the month in Spa-Francorchamps. A few months ago, Panora.me also installed their device permanently in Studio City Macau, on behalf of Picsolve already.

Picsolve is backed by Eight Roads, the propriety investment arm of Fidelity International Limited (FIL). Apparently, the British group appreciated the work quality provided by the Belgian startup, as the partnership also foresees R&D collaboration on new products to come.

Raphaël de Borman, CEO of Panora.me: “We are very proud of the progress made by our company from its beginnings almost two years ago. But, to develop on a global marketplace where growth is clearly located in the US, in Asia and in the Emirates, it was essential for Panora.me to be involved with a major actor like Picsolve. Thanks to them, we now have access to the best tourist and recreational sites around the globe, while benefiting from their 25-year experience in the industry. Being appointed to work on new products is also very exciting for us. It’s a huge challenge we are eager to embrace.

Destinations and Selfies – A Perfect Union!

The selfie has become a new form of art and expressionism over the last decade and is cultural phoneme that is arguably here to stay. Theme parks, attractions and other tourist destinations are exceptionally popular locations for taking and sharing selfies. The smartphone, accessibility to Wi-Fi and popularity of social media have combined to create a utopia for tourist destinations as the visitor becomes a promoter of the destination which is amplified to their family and friends. For the destination, this is a win-win as most consumers today are more trusting of social recommendations and word of mouth when planning their next activity.

These destination-promoting selfies act as endorsements of where to go in your free time, where to book a holiday, or what theme park or museum to visit next. Destinations even promote selfie taking with iconic symbols for their cities and or the use of hashtags so once posted and shared there is no doubt where the selfie was taken. 

Destinations can improve and recruit more of their visitors to act as promoters to drive more visitors to their destination. With a better-quality selfie or User Generated Content such as a Panora.me selfie, destinations can further broaden their reach to attract even more visitors.

At Panora.me, we empower iconic attractions, destinations and sponsors around the globe to get the big picture. Our innovative panoramic selfie technology provides an immersive and engaging iconic selfie taking-point. Once the guests spot the remote cameras located 150 meters away, the selfie is triggered. The guests can then purchase their panoramic selfie in the form of a ‘digital postcard video’ that is first an up-close zoom of the guests; then it pans out to show the iconic area in its full panoramic view.  The visitor can then post their selfie promoting the destination with the most amazing selfie.

Photography and theme parks provide excellent opportunities to purchase a photo with our favourite characters, in front of iconic castles or while testing our limits on roller coasters. The Panora.me selfie gives new life to attraction photo concessionaires with much-needed innovation with the panoramic selfie at a time where print photo purchase are on the decline and selfie-taking is on the rise. Panora.me unlocks missed opportunities and helps destinations and photography operators ‘get the big picture.’

Panora.me appoints Deborah Eicher as International Business Development Consultant

Panora.me, the worlds’ first provider of panoramic selfie technology for the global leisure and entertainment industry has appointed Deborah Eicher as International Business Development Consultant.

Eicher brings over 18 years of commercial and marketing experience in the leisure and entertainments industry, has an MBA, ICAE and is on the Board of Directors of the IAAPA Foundation. Eicher, who operates as London based Eicher Leisure Consultants, has provided business development consulting to companies such as HB Leisure, Scruffy Dog, RWS Entertainments and Local Measure. Eicher specialises in global strategic business development having worked in the US, Europe, Middle East and Asian markets.

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Eicher has an extensive background in photography operations in the leisure sector as former Picsolve President, Head of Market & Industry Relations and Business Development Head in US, Asia and the Middle East. Eicher will harness her knowledge of the global leisure photography market and introduce and integrate the Panora.me selfie technology across the globe.

‘The leisure consumers have changed the way they take, buy and share photos and the selfie is here to stay. The Panora.me selfie opens up a whole new level of capturing memories. It gives consumers access to the kind of content they can’t produce with their smartphones. The panoramic selfie is a video postcard that captures the unique location in the whole view. Guests want to share where they are and what they are doing, they want to be immersed and part of the photo taking process. The Panora.me technology is truly unique and provides guests with an amazing selfie that they love and want to share. Additionally, guests are becoming the venues’ promoters as they post their video instantly and share with family and friends.’ Says Eicher.

CEO and co-founder of Panora.me Raphael de Borman says ‘I am very excited that Deborah has joined our team to lead our growth in new markets. Deborah has valuable experience and key connections in the industry to help us identify photo partners for our panoramic selfie technology.’

Panora.me currently partners with Dakota Photo and provides the panoramic selfie technology to the Real Madrid Football Club Stadium Tour & Museum. Panora.me is also partnering with major concession photography companies to run pilot programs at iconic sites. In the meantime, the Belgian startup continues to operate temporary installations in tourist cities and at prime events across the globe, helping destinations and brands to amplify their visibility on social media through guest-generated content with the panoramic selfie.

Visit their website at www.panora.me for more information or get in touch.

How Smartphones Changed the Way Destinations Promote Themselves

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This is how we used to take pictures

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This is how we take pictures now

While it’s true that disposable cameras are making a comeback, smartphones aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Quite the contrary, especially since roaming fees tend to disappear, which allows tourists to be connected virtually anywhere.

1.5 billion smartphones were sold in 2016, which represent a 5% increased compared to 2015 and 2017 is well on its way to beat the record as the iPhone 8 Plus seems to be taking the cake for best phone camera.

Those devices have changed the way tourists -and people- take pictures, forever.

Two major shifts

Smartphones -and selfies- in combination with instant internet access leads to a new sociological paradigm for photography:

  1. People are now the center of attention

  2. Pictures are meant to be shared

How big is it? According to data from Hootsuite, as of late 2016, 40 billion pictures or videos had been uploaded to instagram since the app launched in 2010 and 95 million were already being uploaded every day.

But that’s not all...

Mobile phones… and mobile tourists

Thanks to the multiplication of low-cost airlines and cheap stays, people tend to travel more and more every year. The number of stays at tourist accommodations within the EU has increased by 35% over the course of 6 years.

This means that the travel market is growing and cities can’t afford not to try and get their share of the cake. Especially since it’s a big, fat, 7 trillion dollars cake.

A tale of many cities

This situation pushes destinations to compete for the attention of tourists, which results in fierce place branding strategies.

An alarming fact you can’t afford to ignore is that social media channels and word of mouth have become the main influential factors when it comes to picking a destination.

This state of things highlights the importance for destinations to take to social media to promote themselves.

Barcelona set a huge social media strategy, organizing its efforts by focusing on 350 city social accounts, developing a brand voice and creating a Social Media Council set to oversee the matter.

Social media is not just a gadget anymore, it’s a central part of touristic communication, which leads to massive investments from municipalities and public organizations.

Tourist Generated Content

If taking to social media is definitely the way to go, the question of the source of the content is essential.

We already mentioned that social recommendations and word of mouth were at the top of list when it comes to make a decision about where to go on vacation.

In other words, social media users are influenced by their peers or people they admire, which is why cities must focus User Generated Content to get people interested in their destination.

You might have an amazing photographer and great postcard-like views to share and you should but that’s not where the bulk of the money is.

Visitors are the best ambassadors, that’s what destinations should be investing in.

Hashtags

Hashtags are what makes navigation on Instagram so easy and constitute the easiest way for users to find pictures related to what they’re interested in.

When it come to travel, a myriad of unofficial communities organized themselves around “IGers” type hashtags such as #igersUSA, #igersParis, #igersZGZ (Zaragoza) or #igersBCN (Barcelona).

Every city, every tourist office and every landmark’s goal should be to dominate the social media arena in their particular sector, put themselves out there with pictures and hashtags referring to it, even if it means having to launch it and set a trend. And we’ll see how that’s possible.

But it is not enough to have plenty of pictures on social media. It’s easy to spam pictures and hashtags or have people do it, but it’s not worth anything if the result is not qualitative. Destinations shouldn’t just present a beautiful image of themselves, they have to show excitement, because that’s what make people take decisions.

What has been done so far?

How do you set this kind a trend? You need to do two things:

  1. Give tourists an exceptional sight or experience that involves taking pictures

  2. Ask them to share their experience, thanks to the pictures they’ve taken.

Albeit, if the picture’s worth it, they’ll share without being asked. Because, you know, that’s what people do.

New-York and San Francisco: The cities spray-painted stencils on the ground near important landmarks to help tourist get the best angle for their selfies.

Norway: For more than 20 years, Norway has been capitalizing on its roads, asking architects to design mind-blowing picnic spots. The concept has been gaining attention from traditional and social media.

Amsterdam: The city had deployed an impressive set of letters saying Iamsterdam in front of the well renowned Rijksmuseum. It became its official brand, locally as well as internationally. The #iamsterdam can be found on more than 928.000 public Instagram profiles, along with #iamsterdamsign or #iamsterdamletters.

Montreal: The city placed a frame branded with the #MTLMOMENTS hashtag at the top of the Mont Royal. The hashtag was shared close to 350,000 times via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter; web traffic increased by 22% and Tourisme Montréal’s YouTube channel recorded 2 million hits.

Brisbane: The city of Brisbane installed huge letters on the south bank of the Brisbane river for the G20 summit of 2014. Even though it was intended as a temporary installation, popularity among locals and tourists turned it into a permanent attraction after the original letters were taken away for security concerns and replaced by brand new replacements, ready for selfies.

Toronto: The Canadian city also set its own letters in Nathan Phillips Square, right outside Toronto City Hall. Various hashtags ranging from #xoTO to #share 3Dto allow to track tens of thousands of social shares.

What’s next?

Brussels: The Belgian -and European!- capital decided to bet on innovation, unleashing the power of panoramic selfies...

The concept? People take a selfie, a regular selfie. Except that they orient themselves towards an HD panoramic camera located 150 meters (164 yards for our imperial system-loving readers) away at a higher point. The result is a short video starting by showing a close up expanding into the whole area around the participants.

Over the course of 21 days, 20.426 visitors (67% foreigners) took a total of 8.017 panoramic selfies, resulting in the #brusselsandme hashtag being found on 748 public Instagram profiles and 2.842 selfies being shared at least once on Facebook.

We don’t know yet what results the operation will yield for Brussels in the near future but one thing is for sure: if you offer a pleasantly uncommon experience to your tourists, they will gladly share it on social media!

In the end, cities, like any brand, have the ability to summon the power of social media and user advocacy, turning “passive” visitors into “active” promoters.

It just needs a little nudge!