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.

Google Earth project - Tour Builder 2

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.

Google Earth project - Tour Builder 3

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”.
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail to someone
Karthick Prabu

About the Writer :: Karthick Prabu

Karthick was general manager for Tnooz in Asia until September 2014.



  1. Andrea Brown

    Call of the Wild Adventures, the longest running women’s adventure travel company, has been using the Pathwrangler platform for the past year and we have definitely been impressed with the product and the service that Doug Heinz and his team have provided. Their system has definitely enabled us to minimize wasted time, multiply our efforts, and provide top-notch customer service to communicate essential trip information and last minute changes while enabling clients and guides to build relationships and engage with each other pre and post-trip.

  2. Reza Ladchartabi

    I think this might work in the B2C domain. When it comes to OTAs, or Destination Marketing Organizations they need a branded solution as part of their channel management. That’s exactly why we started . A subscription based tour builder for B2B that helps companies to create tours and publish them on whitel label apps (Android & iPhone), and mobile web. I am more than happy to give a demo if you are interested. Feel free to reach me on

  3. Peter Topping

    Opportunity opportunity, opportunity. As a wise man said, “worry about the things you can change and surrender the things you cant” , (like Google)

  4. Minh Bui

    cool article, Tour Builder could be a new platform for entrepreneurs to build their new startups

  5. Alexandra B

    This is a serious bummer for a number of reasons (some expressed below) and also from innovation perspective. Google entering this space will surely mean that everyone will accept their design/functionality/etc. as a de facto standard and it will be very hard to shake it off and come up with another novel way to create and share trips.

    This is coming from us trying to come up with a better way to search for travel-related products. The users are just SO used to the standard way OTAs present search parameters (destination, from/to, start date, end date) that I feel it’s now “the best way” simply because it’s the only way people know.

  6. Peter Syme

    This is in beta so you never know if it will survive or not as Google as we know kills off a lot of experiments. It is also missing a lot of functionality that is required if tour operators were to use as a channel to market. However, it is Google so it makes sense to have tours listed their and connected through out the social channels. A lot of the start ups in this area were already in a difficult confusing space and now they have just been starved of any future VC funding if google makes a serious play with this.

  7. Timothy O'Neil-Dunne

    This will crush several startups who were planning to get into this business.

    Personally I don’t think Google will ever get into the direct fulfillment of the tours. Its too hard and too messy and will create too much animosity towards Google (more than already exists) should it do so. Frankly there is not enough money for Google to do this and far better for them to stay outside of that part of the process.

    That leaves the rest of us to have to deal with this tool, which will likely have clones from other mass social players like Facebook.

    I don’t see this as a game changer. Its just another way to work. I do see that it can improve the process of planning. I can foresee consumers creating trips and then sending them off for pricing and fulfillment.

    Once again we are reminded we live in a world largely controlled by the empires of Google and its ilk.



Newsletter Subscription

Please subscribe now to Tnooz’s FREE daily newsletter.

This lively package of news and information from Tnooz’s web site provides a convenient digest of what’s happening in technology that drives the global travel, tourism and hospitality market.

  • Cancel