Call 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.