An interview with Steve Barnes


Barnes Creative Studios is a multimedia production company that focuses primarily on luxury travel and commercial real estate. They work with top brands like Starwood, Viceroy, and Princess Cruise Lines, delivering a very high-quality experience with advanced technology like Matterport.

We sat down with owner Steve Barnes to discuss his views on Matterport’s role in high-end multimedia marketing.

Q: Who is your customer?

A: We’re a multimedia production company focusing on luxury travel and commercial real estate. We do other stuff, but that’s two big verticals for us. We work with really big brands like Starwood, Viceroy and Princess Cruise Lines. We have a history of delivering really high-end products and advanced tech like Matterport.

Q: Have you always been looking at cutting-edge technology to enhance what you’re doing?

A: Every minute of every day. I’m looking at a Samsung GearVR, looking at converting some Matterport files for presentation at a conference. I’m going to demo it with a couple of select 3D models that will be good to transfer into stereo. Marketing toward departments. You get the virtual tour and the data to make this, and this is going to be big.

Q: Have you seen VR employed in hospitality? Do you think it’s a useful tool for your clients?

A: It’s already getting employed by some brands. I think it’ll be much more extensible than past generations of similar technology, especially with Facebook’s backing. The pricing is going to be low enough that it’s something that everyone from gamers to marketers will get into. Sure, there will be some fear of technology at the beginning, but it’s going to be used in conference scenarios, hospitality, construction…There are so many uses for it.

Q: Do you find that your clients are ready to jump into 3D, or is there fear in the beginning?

A: I see a mix. With big brands, like Starwood, we’ve already proven ourselves, so we’re a leader in bringing them new technology to get involved with. Smaller mom-and-pop boutiques are going to be a little leery because they just don’t know yet. There’s an assumption that Matterport content is the same old virtual tour stuff of yesteryear. That’s the information we need to deliver. The message is, “I know you think you’ve seen it, but you haven’t!”

This isn’t Google Business View, which is just 2D photography - this is a complete 3D representation of a space, and you’re going to be able to be future proof with your marketing because with Matterport you’ll be ready to go when VR starts getting hot.

I have 100% success rate with all of the people who’ve been with us who have trusted us on Matterport. I take pride in being able to explain tech to them.

Q: Quality wise, what are you seeing that regular virtual tours just don’t offer?

A: The ability to explore. It’s one thing to look at a photo that looks warped, it’s another thing to be able to walk around a room and actually go up to areas that you want to see in more detail. I’m leaning toward the importance of technology - the other stuff is just bells and whistles. Matterport gives you the ability to be closer to things.

The really great thing is that it’s future-proof. The 2D and 3D data you capture with Matterport is evergreen, because it’s always there and it actually describes the space. You’re getting the real data of the real thing, which can be modified and used down the road as more functionality comes online.

Q: Do your clients get value from Matterport models?

A: The value is tremendous. When you hold this up next to standard 2D photography, not only in cost but in ROI, it’s off the charts. I could throw you a million reasons why this is a better option. Everyone’s got the static photo of the room, but this is a virtual tour experience where your customer is not disappointed. Their expectations are met immediately, and you’re able to fully disclose what you’re selling.

You set expectations so buyers are able to make a decision immediately. When you get to a vacation location, there’s no wondering what it will be like. It’s 100% as advertised.

Q: What challenges have you seen when scanning a resort?

A: Unlike a real estate property, [at a resort] you have a lot of experience that awaits outside the window, so when you get to patios or large decks or places with indoor/outdoor living, it’s limited. You hope for the best and overscan, and try to get a few captures outside. I have a really low threshold for errors, so misaligned clouds are a no-go. Marketing isn’t allowed to have mistakes. I know the guys are working on it and it continues to get better and better.

Q: Have you seen any challenges working on ships?

A: There really were no challenges other than the usual glass and metal scenarios when you’re up close. The camera performed very well in a massive ship where you’re rocking back and forth. There are a couple of trade secrets, but once you’ve figured that part out, it’s pretty good. There’s still the outdoor challenge - you can’t really step out onto the balcony of a moving ship and expect the water and sky to look great.

Q: Any interesting locations coming up?

A: It’s non-stop. Yachts to private jets to luxury travel and more cruise ships. I think retail is a big potential market. I’m still waiting to see what Matterport does with including some more interactive options, for instance e-commerce or mechanisms like that. I see it monthly getting better, and I’m always excited to see what’s coming next.

See one of Steve's models below:

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