Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

December 30 2013

How Google is Reshaping the Hotel Industry

By David McMillin

The hospitality industry is built on the idea of the experience. Now, Google is helping make sure guests understand how that experience really feels at different properties around the world before they make reservations. Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group and Best Western International have both signed on to be part of Google Business Photos within the past week. In the program, Google hires photographers to capture images of hotels to provide 360-degree panoramic views of lobbies, rooms, bars and restaurants.

Online users have been able to view images of hotels for quite some time, but the majority of these “virtual tours” offer static photographs that fail to give any real sense of the property. As today’s online and mobile users grow accustomed to being able to use Google Maps’ Street View to tour neighborhoods, the idea of a still photograph is feeling very outdated. Additionally, Google Business Photos will undoubtedly play a key role in the search results that turn up when any prospective guests are comparing properties online.

SEE ALSO: 5 One-of-a-Kind Hotels in the US

“Consumer decision making in the hospitality category is increasingly moving online, and the internet is becoming more of a visually-driven medium,” Dorothy Dowling, senior vice president, marketing and sales, Best Western International, said.

Translation: a picture isn’t just worth a thousand words anymore; it’s also worth higher occupancy rates, a more robust online presence and ultimately, a stronger brand.

While Best Western is solely integrating Google Business Photos, Carlson Rezidor, which owns Radisson, Radisson Blu and Country Inns & Suites, is testing a number of other Google tools. In December, the brand began testing Google Wallet to allow mobile payments at checkout and Google Indoor Maps to help guide guests through the interior of a property with CAD drawings and floor plans.

SEE ALSO: An Inside Look at How Google Approaches Face-to-Face Conferences

Interested in learning other ways the hotel industry will change in the near future? Click here for a preview of three key trends set to redefine the guest experience.

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