A picture is worth a thousand words—that’s what Best Western International is banking on as it rolls out a new way of snagging guests in 2014. Working with Google, the hotel chain will offer interactive virtual tours to online shoppers searching for lodgings. Instead of booking rooms sight-unseen, shoppers will have the chance to explore Best Western properties through Google Business Photos, a 360-degree virtual tour built on Google’s Street View technology. Best Western is the first hotel chain to offer prospective lodgers this chance to look before they leap.
Best Western has good reason to think that the pioneering approach will give the chain an edge when it comes to getting prospects to buy. Real-world hotel visitors increasingly investigate lodgings online before purchase, while visitors in the online world increasingly demand a visual Internet experience. The virtual tours cater to consumer demand on both counts. Anyone with a computer, tablet or smart phone can take the virtual tours, which will be available for each of Best Western’s 2,200 North American hotel properties by the end of 2014.
The effort won’t stop with North American hotels. Since Google Business Photos are available in 27 countries, Best Western intends make its virtual tours an international phenomenon. Travelers nervous about what they’ll find for accommodations on the other end of a long plane ride to a foreign land will appreciate the chance to allay their fears, likely resulting in more bookings for Best Western. The global hotel brand has over 4,000 properties spread across more than 100 countries and territories.
Though Best Western has garnered a reputation for digital innovation, it wasn’t the hotel chain, but Google that initiated the Google Business Photos project. Best Western is beta-testing the virtual tours for Google, chosen because of the brand’s extensive presence in the North American market and because of Best Western’s reputation for cutting-edge digital efforts.
This isn’t the first time Best Western has teamed up to enhance its online visitors’ digital experience. Other online partnerings involve Facebook, TripIt and TripAdvisor. Best Western has won several awards for its Internet efforts, including best mobile website for EyeforTravel.com and TravelClick’s eMarketer of the Year award for 2012, given for digital integration. Best Western was the first hotel brand to hit the 500,000 mark in Facebook followers.
EverSpark can help you utilize Google’s technology to create a virtual tour of your office. Contact us today to get started.