Google wades into personal trip planning with Tour Builder
In an effort to enable people to share their stories (be it related to leisure travel, places visited while on military service etc), Google has launched a storytelling service by the name Tour Builder.
The service, launched under the Google Earth product umbrella, allows anyone (with a Gmail account) to create a tour by mentioning the tour name, description, ability to mark list of places visited on a Google Earth map, add pictures and videos to a place, and finally save it as a tour.
By default, a tour is saved in private mode. Users have the option to share the tour with their friends and social channels.
The list of places mentioned in a tour is mapped visually on a Google Earth map. Once a tour is shared (via a link) with a person, the viewer will be able to go through it place-by-place like a digital rich media story book.
Below screen grab shows various places a US marine cop has served in his career from 1963-1967.
Tour Builder service was initially targeted towards veterans, but later Google opened up the service for everyone.
Tour Builder can be compared to the DTour service launched by DoubleTree in association with YouTube. DTour is designed to inspire people to travel by allowing users to pin locations in a map, add pictures and tips to a location.
Also, Tour Builder can be compared to the Google Maps service where users can create their own map with their travel destinations marked, and also save it. Tour Builder is essentially a structured, rich media version of the “My places” feature of Google Maps.
Below screen grab shows a 15 day Europe tour itinerary with all destinations marked in Google Maps.
Possible use cases for Tour Builder in travel industry:
- People sharing their trip experiences via stories by pinning their place of visit, along with pictures and videos of every place
- OTAs and other travel product selling services can create a Tour for every holiday package product. For example: A 7 day holiday package to Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong can have a Tour created in Tour Builder with places of visit in each of these three destination in sequential order, there by giving a visual face to the text-based itineraries.
- Hotel chains can leverage Tour Builder to map all hotels of a chain in the order of their opening, adding hotel pictures and videos to each destination in the Tour. This becomes a visual “About us”.