If pictures are worth a thousand words, 360-degree virtual tours are worth a million.
Brian Mumpower and Jim Soyster recently created a virtual tour of The Discovery Center to allow visitors to “walk through” exhibits online. Their company, InSight, provides a variety of marketing tools. (TMP photo by M. Hudgins)
And that's exactly what Murfreesboro-based InSight Commercial Real Estate Services aims to provide its local and national clients.
"Why give your clients a slideshow when you can allow them to step into the picture and walk through the property?" Insights president and CEO Brian Mumpower asked. "We help our clients by providing very innovative, very interactive marketing solutions."
After years of working in the corporate world to provide various companies marketing solutions coupled with a series of layoffs during the recession, Mumpower was convinced by a mentor to branch out on his own. He partnered with Stephanie Mumpower and Jim and Helen Soyster to launch InSight.
That was two years ago -- since 2010, the company has provided commercial real estate services for nearly 90 million square feet in at least 30 states.
Operating from a modest office on Franklin Road, InSight offers its clients -- both local and national -- a variety of marketing services.
"Essentially, our business model deals with commercial real estate. When I built the business, I built it do be diverse," Mumpower explained.
"We handle a lot of different aspects of commercial real estate. We don't sell it -- at least not yet -- but when it comes to commercial real estate, our services are designed to assist our clients at different levels, whether it's property inspections, marketing their business or doing architectural surveys."
Specifically, InSight's capabilities range from business-to-business marketing solutions and capital planning services to facility life cycle analysis, project and program management and property condition assessment services.
Perhaps most unique to the company is its 360 virtual solutions, and how 360 degree video can be used for tours and emergency tactics, alike.
"I've always been a visionary; I come up with ideas that other people couldn't," Mumpower says. "I really took this technology and put it in a lot different areas. A lot of people have seen it used for home and condo sales, but I took that and put it on steroids."
In fact, Google representatives contacted Mumpower about project collaboration, but InSight's technology was too advanced for the web giant.
"We utilize our 360 technology to create sticky websites that are fun to explore are the ones that improve your bottom line through enhanced marketing," InSight gushes on its website, insightcre.com.
"Virtual Tours Increase Your Business….period! By letting people see your real estate, store, hotel or restaurant your website could be working harder for you. Whether you need a HD virtual tour or if you need a whole new 360 degree virtual tour website project — call us. We do work on a national level."
In the case of a natural disaster or immediate emergency, InSight's 360 tactical surveys help clients assess risk or respond appropriately. A clear example, says Mumpower, is that of Joplin, Mo., which has begun documenting its neighborhoods and schools.
"People may have a drawing of what the building looks like, but if it gets completely obliterated, (it's important to know) what the building looked like before and where there could be potential survivors," he explained, adding that virtual assessments offer 360 tactical and disaster assessments.
From mom-and-pop shops to mega malls, these virtual tours can be beneficial to a wide range of companies. InSight touts national clients like Starbucks, Bank of America, Well Fargo, Dollar General and Wyndham Resorts. InSight is even working on a large-scale project assisting architects with design changes to its restaurants.
That said, Mumpower insists he treats "my mom and pop clients just the same as I would treat my national clients." The company works hand-in-hand with local business like The Discovery Center at Murfree Spring to regional clients like Opry Mills.
"Every client is equally important," he says. "We have national reach, but we're a small, locally owned business, and we like to do business locally. We really can help clients whether it's a store or a museum or a restaurant. If they have any need whatsoever, and if they can benefit whatsoever from having people online view their business, then we actually can enhance that by doing the 360 tour."
Mumpower visited The Discovery Center at Murfree Spring in Murfreesboro with his family and struck up conversation with an employee about the benefits of virtual tours, remembers Jennifer O'Neal, grants and communications coordinator with the Center.
"A lot of people who have visited our (web) site have really enjoyed having the (tour) there," she said. "It's one thing to read about what we do and to see some still pictures, bu to actually go in and get yourself familiar with the place … it's especially good for parents with kids who have sensory issues, so they can plan for areas to stay away from."
Because The Discovery Center partners with traveling exhibits which change every three or four months, Mumpower re-shoots the video tour regularly to update the website.
Currently, a Tinker Toys exhibit is available to celebrate the company's 50th anniversary, but come May 26, a treehouses exhibit will take its place. Visitors can climb the treehouses and learn in a hands-on manner about its inhabitants and environment.
"Because of the way technology is, (Mumpower) and his crew are so quick, they'll shot that day, and then by that afternoon, it's already up on our website," O'Neal said.
InSight also partnered with the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce and Smyrna Airport Authority to market some property in the area, according to Paul Latture, president of the Chamber.
He met Mumpower at a Chamber networking event and ended up hiring InSight to work on the project.
"(It) worked out successfully in terms of what we wanted," Latture said, adding that Mumpower did a flyover of the airport and virtual tours of the airport and hangars.
"We've rented the hangars out (for use with) music videos; they've actually done several out there."
The company also helped market available properties to real estate clients by making videos, promotional information and statistics available in one package.
"For us, it worked out well; it's a marketing tool," Latture continued.
And for the community, InSight speaks volumes of the types of leaders located within Rutherford County.
"We're certainly proud to have a business like that," Latture said. "We benefit directly from our relationship with him for the product he put out on the airport authority in Smyrna."
Mumpower also said he's working on a project to create a virtual community tour of the City of Murfreesboro to better market it for individuals or companies looking to visit or relocate to Murfreesboro.
"It will map the town so you can actually virtually walk around the town," he said. "It would allow businesses to market themselves and let people get a good flavor of the community."