Google Takes On Tourism With City Tours Experiment

City Tours is a new addition to Google Labs that puts Google squarely in the tourism business: Give it a city name, and Google not only suggests sites to see, but it also maps out a multi-day itinerary and proposes a minute-by-minute travel schedule for you to follow.

And what’s really impressive is that City Tours doesn’t only cover the standard travel hot spots like New York, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. You’ve probably never heard of Kennewick, Washington, but Google has a three-day tour in mind if you ever want to visit my neck of the woods.

Google City Tours: Kennewick

Whoa. That noise you hear is the sound of tour guides across the U.S. updating their resumés and scanning the classifieds for a new career.

Okay, not so fast. I’m getting ahead of things here.

walk 88 minutesIn reality, City Tours is very much a labs project at this point with plenty of room for growth and improvement. After the “wow” factor wears off, you’ll notice that the Kennewick tour above suggests that I walk from sight to sight … even though two of those walks are estimated at 83 and 88 minutes. On day two of the itinerary, the city tour includes a 148-minute walk. No thanks. Walking tours may work well in San Francisco or New York, but not so much out here in Small Town, USA.

Despite that problem, City Tours is a fun tool with a lot of potential. You can give it specific dates and add or remove sights. Imagine Google pulling in the public transit information that it already has for many cities. Imagine it pulling in event listings like concerts and sports. Imagine local businesses being able to write their own suggested city tours that include a stop at the business’s own location, and being able to embed those tour maps on their web sites.

This seems like an interesting experiment to watch.

(via Steve Rubel)

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Google: Labs | Google: Maps & Local | Top News


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • JVRudnick

    Never thought of that, great idea Matt! How about a fresh startup to do the scripting to create tour of say the pyramids and Sphinx, Phillies Best Cheese-Steak tour, a Grand Canyon tour….all using Google Earth and available online for a small fee….to walk where I’ll never visit…and see what can be seen!

    I’d buy! Nice one, Matt!


  • nickstamoulis

    Hi Matt, Thanks for discussing the new Google City Tours feature! This is HUGE! Having worked in the travel/tourism industry online for a few years, I think this will have a big impact for visitors to a city and may eventually give sites like Trip Advisor a run for their money…should be interesting to see how Google monetizes this other than Google Ads…

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