Latest assault on travel from Google: A virtual tour guide for mobiles

Following Google’s movement of Schemer to mobile, the company continues to push deep into the mobile travel application space with the FieldTrip app for Android.

FieldTrip promises to be a friendly travel companion that will make discovering the world a more fun, engaging and digitally enhanced experience through social connections, information and discovery.

Using a bit of nostalgia and encouraging a more playful “never stop exploring” reminiscent of the endless adventures of childhood, FieldTrip is positioning itself as a tool to facilitate that great travel emotion: wonder.

From Google:

Field Trip is your guide to the cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you. It can help you learn about everything from local history to the latest and best places to shop, eat, and have fun. You select the local feeds you like and the information pops up on your phone automatically, as you walk next to those places.

The functionality involves taking all of the information from various sources across the web, and making it accessible on a mobile device according to a user’s location – and delivering it seamlessly, without the user even opening up the app. The user has granular control over what interests her, so relevant content can be pushed to her as she moves through physical space in real-time.

This seamless delivery of information is perhaps the most obvious indication of where Google is heading: a world in which ambient information is sifted and curated with no user input, and then tailored and delivered specifically to that user.

By partnering with reputable publishers, Google has a detailed destination database from the start – Arcadia, Atlas Obscura, and Daily Secret unveil local treasures; Thrillist, Food Network, Zagat and Eater dish up food-related tips; CoolHunting and Remodelista for notable products and places; Songkick and Flavorpill cue up the local music.

Categories available for discovery are: Architecture, Historic Places & Events, Lifestyle, Offers & Deals, Food Drinks & Fun, Movie Locations, Outdoor Art and Obscure Places of Interest.

Other interesting features include:

  • full integration with Google Offers
  • full voice support, so the app will talk to you as you drive and experience the places around you
  • creation of local feeds that deliver location-specific content
  • intelligent algorithm that will learn from your likes and dislikes
  • social sharing of experiences that also includes Facebook and Twitter (not just Google+)
  • optimized for mobile – rather than tablet (Google was explicit on this point…)
Google is promoting the launch of their app – and all its exploration goodness – with a creative promotion named Field Trip Day on September 29th. Sponsored by Atlas Obscura, modern-day app-wielding explorers will field trip around six cities, allowing users to get a taste of the app’s capabilities in real-time.
But what does it all mean?

After acquiring Zagat last year and Frommers earlier this year, many travel startups are nervously considering Google’s intentions in the travel space. This continued push into the travel ecosystem is encroaching on some territory – such as TagWhat’s Publishing Tool – and certainly causing some consternation in startup-land.

Ultimately, Google’s goal is to create and solidify their position at the middle of the travel ecosystem – from research to booking to sharing, Google’s interest is having a piece of the pie at each one of the stages of travel where ads can be sold or a travel booked.

In spite of Google’s deep-pocketed dominance, startups have a key competitive advantage here: Google’s well-defined revenue model limits them from innovating too heavily in this space. Google is a public company, focused on increasing avenues to serve advertising.

By focusing obsessively on the user and solving key problems for passionate and engaged users, travel startups can build a defensible advantage that allows them to compete with the behemoths. Albeit small, this advantage will be essential in surviving the continued assault by the Google Travel team.

As usual, FieldTrip is initially available only on Android (download here), with an iPhone app promised at some undisclosed future date.

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Nick Vivion

About the Writer :: Nick Vivion

Nick is the Editorial Director for tnooz, where he oversees the editorial and commercial content as well as emerging businesses like tnoozLIVE. Prior to this role, Nick has multi-hyphenated his way through a variety of passions: restaurateur, photographer, filmmaker, corporate communicator, Lyft driver, Airbnb host, journalist, and event organizer.



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  1. ann

    thanks this

  2. Aaron Zwas

    I’m a big fan of this app and see it as a excellent extension of Google’s Maps suite of products (Map/Local/Nav/Offers/Checkin). The timing is a perfect counter balance to Apple’s new Map product — it highlights in very clear terms just how far ahead Google is in this space. The amount of ad inventory and offer inventory they are creating will be enormous.

    I took a deep dive on the implications in a recent blog post. Have a look.

    Nick- always interested in your thoughts…

    • Nick Vivion

      Nick Vivion


      Great blog post – you hit on some valid points, and this is going to be quite the story to watch unfold. Exciting stuff!

      I responded in-line on your blog.



  3. James Penman

    Cool post and love the video. If you get 5 mins, read Poet Laureate Ted Hughes’s letter to his son about releasing the inner child:

    • Nick Vivion

      Nick Vivion


      That’s very eloquently written – a shame he took his own life, but how lucky we could all be to have such a well-written father to bring us through those dark periods. Perhaps Google is on to something – let’s just see if the app can deliver on that promise of sheer unadulterated childhood joy and wonder!



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