Hodge: Virtual tour vision turned into business reality for Kelowna man

With a click of the computer mouse viewers can ‘tour’ any Marchante client business—restaurant, hotel, winery, salon, gym, etc.

I never stop being amazed with the amount and diversity of talented people there are in our community.

Some time back, I met with an interesting and hard working fellow name Elie (Eliecer) Marchante, who held a vision of a virtual tour  business.

After many months of hard work and determined slogging, Marchante turned his vision into a reality, starting up his impressive online business Virtual British Columbia Tours (vbct.ca).

His company provides business owners with a virtual tour technology of their business, allowing potential customers and clients to watch a 360-degree view of the facility.

With a click of the computer mouse viewers can ‘tour’ any Marchante client business—restaurant, hotel, winery, salon, gym, etc.

In addition, a company can embed their virtual tour onto their own business website as part of a top-notch marketing tool.

Marchante’s company takes the recently developed ‘street-view’ concept directly inside the doors of business giving customers a sneak preview of what to expect before physically venturing into the store or facility.

“The response by business owners, once they see what I can do to assist them, is heart warming. Virtual Tours takes the potential client or customer into the business from the comfort of their easy chair and home computer,” he smiles.

Of real note, however, is that very recently, his hard work and resilience paid off. Marchante’s Virtual British Columbia Tours is now part of one of Google’s project: Google Business Photos.

Wow. That is a huge feather in his cap and well deserved.

Google recently launched a Business Photos Program in Canada to help businesses attract customers, and went in search of specially trained photographers, of which Marchante is now a member.

His generated panoramas of businesses interiors may be seen on Google Search and Google Maps, as well as Google+ Local pages. When potential customers search for a business by name on Google, they will see the images displayed directly on the search results page.

Businesses get higher visibility when consumers search on Google maps for a particular type of business in a geographic area, since the local listings are located on a map at the top right of the results page.

This is a superb way of displaying your business decor, ambience, and other unique qualities of your business (menus, product selection, and more).

The new program is already utilized in some selected cities within various countries including Canada, U.S., Australia, New Zealand, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom. So the new virtual tour business trend is certainly about to take off.

Most Kelowna and area businesses can participate in the program. For more info contact Marchante at info@vbct.ca, go to his website at vbct.ca or call him at 250-470-1063.

For more information go to http://maps.google.ca/help/maps/businessphotos/


Speaking of amazing talent, make sure you hustle down to the Kelowna Community Theatre tonight (Friday) for the encore performance of One Hit Wonders, performed by Rann Berry and his remarkable group of talented musicians.

Berry’s Vegas-like show is a wonderful trek down memory lane of musical nostalgia, bringing back to stage a plethora of favourite catchy tunes that owned the airwaves at some point or other during the past 50 years.

Berry and clan will play famous songs such as Indiana Wants Me, Seasons in the Sun, and other hit tunes made famous by folks whose names most of us have long forgot.

Doors open tonight at 7p.m. with music starting at 8 p.m.

Berry is well warmed up and ready to go.

I know, because last Saturday, Tez and I spent a delightful night at the Blue Gator listening to him and his band, Random Act.

Wow, that was one packed house of music fans. I have never seen the dance floor at the Gator so full for an entire night.

Amazing performances by all the musicians (an all-star band in reality) led by the smoking guitar of Mike Jervis, fine bass work of Michael Goc, and hot sax of Curtis Tulman.

What a wonderful night. Gator owner ‘Moby’ had a permanent grin glowing all night.


I am feeling a tad bit like a big ole bear ready to tuck down for the winter. I ate so much food on Saturday (as a hard-working judge) at the Raise the Roof Barbecue for Habitat for Humanity that I could hibernate away the entire winter.

Great food, great fun. Well done. Judging delicious food is a tough job but someone has to chew it.


A hearty ‘hurray’ to my good friend and former Kelowna city council colleague Graeme James, recently nominated as the B.C. Conservative Party candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country in the next  provincial election.

James is a great fellow, and as hard working and honest of a gentleman as they come.

As I have said  in the past, Graeme and I seldom agreed on anything, however, I always respected the passion, sincerity, logic and conviction behind his opinion.

His ability to cut through the B.S., find rational or a salient viewpoint, and then hold fast to it impressed me.

Not to mention his quick wit, sense of humour and big heart. Go get them.

Kelowna Capital News