"Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going."
- Paul Theroux


Views and Interviews

April 2022

In conversation with Justin Santosh
Founder, Intellimedia Digital Solutions

This interview is with Justin Santosh, Founder of Intellimedia Digital Solutions. With over 30 years of programming expertise and 25 years of experience in Internet Technologies, Santosh has helped big brands streamline communication and business functionality in the digital domain, specially web and multimedia.

He has been involved in some of the first websites ever to be built for the internet in the mid-90s, prior to which he built ecological stochastic models for various projects including some funded by the United Nations.

Santosh’s expertise includes strategy, planning, design, development, implementation and project management proven across projects of all sizes for clients across the globe - including IBM, Philips, NASA, SAP, Toyota, Sony, Biocon, Wipro, Dell, Cisco, Tata, Titan, Air Deccan, TetraPak, Aditya Birla (PSI Data Systems), GE Power Systems, GE Medical Systems, Johnson & Johnson, Ford Foundation, Liberty Mutual, Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD), and others.

He holds a Ph.D. degree in Behavioural Ecology from IISc, is a Sun-certified Java Programmer & Developer. When time permits, Santosh plays drums in a rock band.

In this interview, we talk to Santosh about using 360-degree panoramas for the hospitality industry. Ongoing developments in enhancing customer experience are changing the ways people interact with marketers in physical and virtual environments. And technology enhanced platforms are shaping customer experiences and adding value to the purchase journey.

Here’s our first question to Santosh about virtual, augmented and mixed platforms, and what makes them so immersive and interesting.

Are 360-degree panoramas adding an exciting visual dimension to customer experience?

The need to enhance customer experience is bringing about new ways to interact with people in physical and virtual environments. If you compare older formats with emerging technologies, you will see an immersive pivot point in 360-degree panoramas – you’re almost there, with the ability to look around you. (As opposed to looking at still images or linear video footage.)

360 degree segments can be very real, placing you right in the middle of the immersive experience.

In the 360-degree interface, users can actually look around “anywhere” they want to, either by using a head set, moving their phones around, or by simply dragging the panoramas on a laptop, mobile device or smart TV, using the remote.

Using navigation controls, you can explore visual panoramas both horizontally and vertically. It is this perspective that takes the experience right up the immersive quality scale. Which means you can actually go deep sea diving or take a spacewalk side-by-side with an astronaut - instead of just watching it like an episode on TV.

Where can 360-degree panoramas be used in a company’s promotion efforts?

Innovative digital marketing practices are increasingly adapting creative to suit 360-degree galleries, virtual tours and 360-videos.The objective, once again is to achieve that magical immersive feeling that brings your product or property closer to the real thing.

Virtual tours are probably the most widely used application of all immersive experiences, but the choice of format depends on time, budget, and the end application. In the simplest version, multiple 360-degree panoramas are interlinked with the help of intuitive navigation. This allows users to control how they move between various panoramic scenes providing a very realistic feel. In addition to being able to look around, users can zoom in or out, and move in any direction they want.

Can you visualize a video walkthrough at your property without a video shoot? Virtual tours can be repurposed to derive customized walkthrough videos. Short, stylized bursts of eye-catching video segments are another interesting way to use panoramas on social media. Virtual experiences can be a huge draw at events and exhibitions - either on large touch screens or through VR Headsets.

Screen shot from a “Virtual Tour” showing navigational aids (thumbnail menu and hotspots) to enable users move through a virtual tour.

(Click on the image above to view the tour. )


Is there a larger benefit to resort owners who want to use 360-degree implementation for their properties?

On projects currently managed by us, we have seen an appreciable increase in online views of 360-degree panoramas as a result of improved search engine rankings on a business listing. Independent research has also shown that complete listings, including carefully chosen visual content are more likely to generate interest and deliver reach to targeted audiences.

Here are some research-based key benefits directly linked to 360-degree visual experiences:

  • Increase in search for virtual experiences by users
  • Increase in lead generation via search
  • Increase in interest generation on Google listings
  • Increase in customer motivation driving purchases
  • Increase in overall website traffic

360-degree panoramic images on Google Steet View / Google Maps experience a large number of organic views making it a good SEO tool at zero additional cost.

(Click on the image above for a live view on Google Maps. )

Looking at your dashboard, here’s what’s possible:

  • 360-degree panoramas can be embedded on a website and directly added to major platforms like Facebook, Google Maps, and Flickr.
  • Interactive Virtual Tours can be embedded on plain vanilla, static websites as well as dynamic sites driven by a CMS like WordPress.
  • 360-degree videos are also supported by YouTube and Vimeo.
  • There are clearly visible SEO and customer conversion benefits of adding 360-degree panoramas to Google Street View.
  • Call-to-action functionality can be built into the virtual tour including information display and links to enquiry pages, e-commerce product pages, and room booking pages.
    (These are just examples – a lot more is possible.)

There are other formats that can be derived from a set of 360-degree panoramas. You can generate walkthrough videos that can be used across-the-board – on Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, E-mail, and anywhere else a “normal” video can be used.

And as I mentioned earlier, the sky’s the limit. And waiting to be explored.

Pilot Virtual Tours exercise at two AIRDA resorts.

The links featured here showcase two resorts used in our pilot exercise for AIRDA. This is currently work in progress and awaiting feedback from other member resorts.

We are also working on a brief guide (a worksheet) to help clients understand typical components that come into play on a 360-degree project – inputs related to time, equipment and other overheads. If you would like updates, please get in touch.

When you click on any of the links featured, you will be taken to a virtual tour page that will open in a new window. As you explore individual frames, each panorama can be dragged around in any direction with the mouse (or finger) or by using the navigation icons. The thumbnail images at the bottom of the virtual tour interface can be used to navigate between scenes.

Intellimedia Links

Intellimedia VR samples
Intellimedia Google Map 360 collection

All images used are courtesy of Intellimedia Digital Solutions

Content Disclaimer: The views expressed in our interviews and stories do not necessarily reflect the official policies, practices and guidelines of the All India Resort Development Association, or its members. These views are based on personal experiences, private opinion, or open source information. (Images used here are either "paid-for" stock photos, images shared by the people we interview, or images under one of the open source licenses such as Creative Commons and others.)

Here’s a link to some recent interviews done by us on the AIRDA website

Virtual Tours

Welcome to AIRDA's virtual tours gallery - an initiative to provide an enhanced visual experience of our member properties.

If you would like to see how 360-degree panorama can work for you and give your customers an enhanced visual experience, please get in touch. Write to us at info@airda.org for more information.


Benefits for Resort Owners

What does an AIRDA membership mean to resort owners and developers? AIRDA comes in as your industry partner, conscience keeper and business catalyst - with a wide portfolio of support services.

Benefits for Consumers

What does AIRDA mean to holiday seekers and prospective customers? AIRDA comes in to provide information and offer guidelines on making the right timeshare decisions.

Get in Touch

Email: info@airda.org
Phone: 080 41255007 / 08


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