This year, I’ll be a maid of honor for the first time. And the bachelorette party destination? Vegas. Cue the Bridesmaids-style panic.
So here’s what I need: a hotel that’s on the Strip, swanky enough to make the bride happy and affordable enough that the other bridesmaids won’t kill me. Thankfully, the newest version of Google Maps has exactly what I need: interactive, high-resolution 360° hotel images, right there on the map. I can locate the Strip, search for nearby hotels and immediately experience what it’s like to stay in them.
Unfortunately for me, this new feature is just starting to make its way into the hotel world (don’t worry, I’ll probably still hold it together better than Kristen Wiig). Google began adding panoramic images of business interiors as part of the Google Business Photos feature back in 2010. Until now, the 360° tours have been used mostly by restaurants, stores, spas and the like.
Now, two major hotel chains – Carlson Rezidor and Best Western – are jumping on the bandwagon. Best Western announced they will launch Google Business Photos for their 2,200 North American hotels by the end of 2014, while Carlson Rezidor is planning to add photos of 100 Radisson and Country Inns & Suites hotels across the continent.
Of course, we all know that visuals are vital, and these interactive tours give guests the chance to experience hotels even more vividly than they can through still photographs. The images are powered by Google Street View technology and are taken by Google-trained photographers. Thus, while many hotels feature 360° tours on their websites, the Google Business Photos will be both more consistent and – in the viewers’ eyes – more trustworthy, since they are provided by certified third-party photographers.
The images will showcase everything from the lobby to the bar to the guest rooms and even the meeting spaces and swimming pool. So while parents can determine whether the hot tub is close enough to the pool to keep an eye on the kids, wedding planners can confirm that the banquet hall really does have the perfect setup for both dining and dancing.
The tours are available on Google Search, Google+ and Google Hotel Finder, but the biggest plus for my particular quandary is the integration with Google Maps. If I’m starting my stylish-yet-not-horrifically-expensive-hotel search in Google Maps, I want immediate access to those tours. I click on a hotel that’s perfectly located on the Strip, and voila! I’m inside the hotel without taking a step. Winning the viewer’s Zero Moment of Truth is faster and simpler than ever.
Don’t wait for your visitors to arrive; open your doors now with Google Business Photos. The MOHs of the world will thank you.
Laurel Reese – Assistant Project Manager
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