Digital

The Future of Location Information in Travel Planning and Discovery

Mar 12, 2014 6:00 am

Google

Promotional image for Google Street View. Google


Yesterday we launched a new edition in our Skift Trends Reports series. “The Rise of Location Data in Travel” looks closely at location data, which has become the engine that powers many of the digital recommendations travelers use to plan their trips, choose accommodations and select local businesses.

Are destination marketers, tourism boards and hospitality industry doing enough to take advantage?

Below is an extract. Get the full report to get full understanding.

A recent Google Study found 70% of travelers start their research online before they decide where they want to travel.

Digital maps and location-centric services like Google Street View represent an overlooked opportunity to discover potential destinations online. If a key goal of destination marketers is inspiring travelers, then simply adding beautiful imagery or a Google Map to a destination website might not be enough.

Location-powered destination experiences offer a compelling way to build digital experiences that help travelers get excited about visiting. In fact, recent creative uses of Google’s Street View feature offer unique opportunities for destinations to experiment with new approaches.

Many destinations already integrate Google Maps functionality into their official destination websites. But one overlooked aspect of Google Maps is the Street View function, which can be used in a variety of interactive, engaging new ways. Globe Genie, a special project by M.I.T. grad student Joe McMichael, is a great example.

The tool lets visitors pick a continent and then digitally “teleports” them to a street level view of a random place in that destination, offering a unique new way for travelers to explore dream vacation spots and get inspired by beautiful scenery. It’s easy enough to see how a tourism board could incorporate a Street View experience customized to a key urban location, building a virtual street-level tour for online visitors in search of some wanderlust.

More recently, Google announced that it would allow third parties to help create imagery for off-thebeaten-path destinations (for example a remote hiking trail in national parks) using its Street View Trekker tool.

In March 2014, Google announced the launch of its first Street View Trekker collaboration with the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, adding street view imagery for Hawaii attractions including Hapunua Beach, Kilauea Iki Trail and the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs.

Google is further augmenting its Street View product with its “Views” destination page, which highlights amazing 360 degree imagery taken inside famous world landmarks and airports, natural wonders and museums around the world. Destinations looking to highlight unique attractions and outdoor amenities could gain an easy PR win and attract potential visitors by taking the initiative to collaborate with Google to photograph and archive this data for discovery by Maps users.

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