Google Preps “Hotel View” Interior 360 Imagery

Google Street View Pegman IconCall it Google “Hotel View.” According to the Associated Press (via Fox), Google is photographing hotel interiors as part of an effort to enhance its travel content. Perhaps even more interesting, says the article, is that the initiative is being run not under the umbrella of Google Maps but through Google Wallet.

It’s not clear whether that last statement is accurate, however. Google has been slowly rolling out more and more interior photography for local businesses over the past few years. This may simply be a logical extension of that effort.

According to the AP, Google is making the push with major hotel chains and hotel management companies. Radisson and Best Western are the only two participating chains explicitly mentioned in the article, although Omni and Marriott are identified as participating in Google Wallet (through their loyalty programs).

I did a set of relatively random hotel searches in several cities and found interior imagery for a number of different hotel chains, suggesting Google already has a great deal of this in place. Above are two examples of the interior hotel photography from a Best Western in the Chicago area and a Hyatt in San Francisco.

TripAdvisor has traditionally been my “go-to” source for interior hotel imagery (from guests rather than the official hotel photographs). If consumers become aware of the availability of these images on Google, it may boost hotel-related search traffic specifically looking for these types of pictures.

Google’s Hotel Finder remains limited and not very visible to consumers. It doesn’t appear that Google has yet integrated these new 360-degree, interactive images into that property.

Postscript: I received some clarification from Google. The program is being run through Google Maps (not Wallet) and it is part of the interior photography program Google has been doing for a couple of years.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Google: Maps & Local | Google: Street View | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • RyanMJones

    the sad part is that this is needed. Seems this would be a non-issue if more hotels had enough high-quality images on their websites.

  • Clayton Pritchard

    The services is called Google Business Photos. Google has certified Google Trusted Photographers across the US and internationally to do photoshoots in order to create the Street View-like tour of the interior of business, not limited to hotels. I work for an digital marketing agency in Orlando that offers Google Business Photos as one of our service offerings. More info about Google Business Photos and non-hotel examples:

  • Clayton Pritchard

    The services is called Google Business Photos. Google has certified Google Trusted Photographers across the US and internationally to do photoshoots in order to create the Street View-like tour of the interior of business, not limited to hotels. I work for an digital marketing agency in Orlando that offers Google Business Photos as one of our service offerings. More info about Google Business Photos and non-hotel examples:

  • Clayton Pritchard

    Google Business Photos (the actual name for this service) is much more than just images though. It’s the ability to take a 360 tour of a business which gives you a better feel for what it looks like. It can be very hard to present that with traditional pictures.

  • Barbara Mckinney

    We all know that Google is the primary place that your customers turn when searching for local business. By participating in the Google Business Photos project, your business can have increased exposure in Google Search, Google Maps and Google+ local, with the addition of interior and exterior images with the call to action: “look inside/outside”.

  • Divya

    They will start charging for it very soon…

  • Courtney Cox

    This is better than strong photography on the hotel’s site because it’s a more honest and unbiased view for the consumer.

    I’m excited about it because I know my hotels have great accommodations, and with this, a competitor won’t be able to use fancy photography tricks to make their rooms look better than they actually are.

  • David Mihm

    Greg–is Google footing the bill for these interior shots or the hotels themselves?

  • James R. Halloran

    Very true! I never trust the image I see of any hotel room online, especially because they use the most luxurious suite to represent all of their rooms.

  • James R. Halloran

    If they’re doing this for hotels and airports, you know what’s next — restaurants and bars.

    It’s definitely a good idea for all of them to start looking their best! You only have one first impression whether in person or online.

  • Nicholas Ward

    Greg, regarding your comment about Hotel Finder’s limited visibility… curious how/where you think Hotel Finder will become more exposed to users.

    There are lots of paths in, including any geographical hotel search, +local pages, desktop maps, and the maps app. Specific examples here:

    Or maybe from another angle, where is Hotel Finder currently not integrated that it would make sense to add?

  • Michael Cropper

    This has been a growing area for years. I wrote this post about this shift in Google’s focus almost 18 months ago:

  • Greg Shadik

    Restaurants who have already taken advantage of these new technologies have benefited from improved search results. If you search for “Restaurants City, State” it will probably bring up the Google Carousel Search and if you click a result, on the right hand side, it will show their Google Information Page. If they have a Virtual Tour click “See Inside” to view it on Google Maps.
    If you have the Google Maps App on your phone it looks even better. Search Restaurants near you and I’ll bet if anyone has done the Virtual Tour they will show up high in Search.

    Restaurants or any business that has taken advantage of the Google Virtual Tours have risen to the top of Search Results. Think about it…it is showing up on Google (Search, Maps, Google+) so it will weigh more with Google.

    The company I work for, 360 Photo Inc, is a Trusted Partner with Google and we are providing the Google Business Photos for Best Western in the US.

  • James R. Halloran

    Ah, true. But how many restaurants actually focus on their local search results? Sadly a lot them are still behind the times. When I search for restaurants in a certain area, only a few results come up. (Most likely because those few are the ones that advertise with Google on some level.)

    This new project by Google Maps, however, seems rather involuntary by the hotels themselves. If a similar project was developed for restaurants and bars, it could place all of them on the map instead of the ones that only advertise with Google.

    It would be a true, unbiased search for local services. But that’s just my thoughts.

  • Greg Shadik

    The Hotels pay for the Virtual Tours. It’s a one-time charge and then it shows up on Google. It will probably become the most cost effective form of advertising in the future.

  • David Mihm

    Greg, I was aware of the standard Trusted Photographer program. I was asking Greg if he knew whether this program was just an extension of that or a custom deal (given the large number of properties that these large brands manage).

    I didn’t see your other comment — Looks like it’s part of the standard program if you guys are getting paid by the property as normal.

  • David Mihm

    Greg, do you have any evidence that Virtual Tours influence ranking? I haven’t seen any.

  • Greg Shadik

    The only evidence I have is the places I’ve personally done the Virtual Tours for.

    I do a lot of research and couple I’ve found is “Pizza San Francisco” (6 of the top 7) or “Restaurants Ft. Myers” (4 of the top 5). I cannot specifically say it’s because of the Virtual Tour but…I’ve also run across some that don’t show up as high but they also haven’t optimized their Google+ page and are not very active with it.

  • Greg Shadik

    I’m not sure how we are getting paid just told this was our deal that we negotiated with Best Western.

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