On the afternoon of August 4, 2020 in Beirut, copious amounts of ammonium nitrate negligently stored for six years in the city’s port exploded without warning. When the dust and debris settled, the stats were devastating: 190 dead, over 6,500 injured, 300,000 homeless, 40% of Beirut severely damaged, and $15 billion in property damage was sustained.
Smushkies - purveyors of exquisite cakes, cookies, and coffee - were among the thousands of local businesses shattered in the explosion’s wake. Billing itself as “Your everyday hangout spot for a unique and relaxing experience in the heart of Mar Mikhael,” the boutique dessert shop began the laborious rebuilding process. After months of blood, sweat, and tears, Smushkies made a triumphant return in time for the holidays as a vibrant message of hope, peace, resilience, determination, and love.
Elie Korkomaz, Entrepreneur and Founder of Virtual Tour Lebanon (VTLeb), documented the grand reopening with his Matterport Pro2 camera and dozens of engaging multimedia tags.
“Mar Mikhael street was damaged the most by the explosion and Smushkies was totally destroyed as the video and pics tagged in the 3D tour illustrate,” says Korkomaz.
As part of VTLeb’s social responsibility to its community, they approached Marwan Sweidan, the founder of Smushkies, and offered to create a 3D virtual tour for the store. The tour received enthusiastic and positive feedback because it illustrates the determination and resilience that the Lebanese people, especially young entrepreneurs, have shown throughout all of the country's difficulties for years.
It’s also a case study for the positive power of social media with engaging content.
“People shared the Smushkies’ 3D tour on their social media channels,” continues Korkomaz. “It played a big role in re-welcoming existing customers to their favorite store and introducing new patrons when it reopened its doors.”
“Multimedia tags were added all over the space to feature photos of the delicious specialty items Smushkies offers. Moreover, two multimedia tags acted as call to action messages. The first directed visitors to download the company’s app, and the other directed customers to shop online for their favorite sweet treats after they were introduced to several delightful recommendations throughout the tour.”
Smushkies’ aims to expand both locally and internationally through franchise partners. The VTLeb team realized that Matterport could help businesses such as Smushkies create a consistent experience across multiple locations and franchises.
When introducing the business idea to potential franchisees, a digital twin creates an amazing first impression about a store’s concept, ambiance, and spirit. It also helps potential partners get a full understanding of the store’s technical aspects such as design, partitions, measurements, equipment, and how products are displayed.
“As Matterport partners in Lebanon, our team at VTLeb is committed to making the best out of the resources and technology at our disposal to add value to the businesses and lives of people around us,” boasts Korkomaz. “Within this context, VTLeb is launching a new initiative to support, as much as possible, companies destroyed or majorly affected by the Beirut explosion but managed by now to rise from the ashes to reopen their doors.”
“VTLeb will grant a 50% discount to any business - restaurant, pub, art gallery, boutique, retail shops, guesthouse, and more - that would like a 3D virtual tour of its rehabilitated space captured.”
Along with its philanthropic efforts, VTLeb’s virtual tours are changing the game for industries of all shapes and sizes.
“Real estate, for instance, is one of the biggest winners,” concludes Korkomaz. “Clients can now virtually tour a property from anywhere in the world using their laptops, tablets, or smartphones without being physically there. They can check out the 3D dollhouse of a property, the floor plan, have an immersive and detailed walkthrough, and take accurate measurements.”
Retailers are also profiting from 3D tours. Due to current health concerns, customers are shopping virtually more than ever. The VTLeb team recently created 3D virtual tours for three major furniture showrooms in Beirut, featuring an area of more than 1,000 square meters each and using more than 200 multimedia tags for each showroom. Moreover, they created virtual tours for other industries and fields, such as hotels, health and beauty clinics, exhibitions, and many others, with Matterport technology leading the way.