Google Maps Unveils New Visual Results to Enhance Traveler Experience
In a major update announced on October 26th, Google Maps has unveiled captivating visual results for travelers, boosting activity-finding and marketing opportunities. The update includes Immersive Views for routes, improved lane and high occupancy vehicle data for route planning, EV charging data visibility enhancements, and, most notably, captivating visual results for non-specific queries like Things to do near me. This update aligns with Google’s efforts to diversify interactive surfaces beyond Google Search, catering to younger users who respond better to visual and multimedia content found on platforms like Instagram and TikTok.
The new update will be available in the coming weeks in major world markets, including the United States, Canada, France, and Germany.
One of the standout features of this update is the discover through photos feature, which allows travelers to find family-friendly activities in specific locations. By using artificial intelligence-filtered images of families participating in these activities, Google Maps provides a visual representation of the experiences available. Users can explore these photos in a carousel format or directly on the map itself. Clicking on a specific photo will lead them to the corresponding tour, activity, or attraction, eliminating the need for separate searches on Google.com.
Google Maps’ use of advanced image recognition and AI technology, already widely implemented in other Google products, enables the generation of relevant and hyper-personalized search results from Google Business Profile listings. This discover through photos feature has the potential to become a valuable activity-finding tool for travelers, providing them with curated options based on their preferences and locations.
Moreover, this update opens up new marketing opportunities for tour operators and attractions. By surfacing photos from Google Business Profiles, Google Maps allows businesses to showcase their offerings directly. The photos displayed in the feature are likely to come from these profiles, which provide a first-party experience for businesses. Additionally, Google’s Things to Do platform allows operators to list their tour and attraction inventory directly on their Google Business Profile, facilitating seamless bookings.
The inclusion of exploratory searches within Google Maps is expected to streamline the customer journey, converting discovery-focused searches into purchasing opportunities. However, as with all Google surfaces, businesses will need to develop strategies to optimize their positioning in search results. While most Google products do not disclose specific ranking algorithms, tour operators and attractions can experiment and iterate to determine the best approach in order to achieve higher visibility and inclusion in the discover through photos feature.
For tour operators and activity providers, it’s crucial to focus on creating a visually appealing and diverse Google Business Profile. By uploading photos that showcase families enjoying their experiences or encouraging customers to post reviews with photos, businesses can increase their chances of appearing in passion-based and intent-based things to do searches on Google Maps.
Google’s continued expansion into the travel and tourism industry underscores its commitment to shortening the gap between dreamers and bookers in the travel micro-moments journey. As this space continues to evolve, businesses must closely monitor these updates and adapt their strategies accordingly.
About the author:
Brennen Bliss is the founder and principal at Propellic.
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In conclusion, Google Maps’ latest update introduces captivating visual results for travelers, offering a more immersive experience and increasing activity-finding and marketing opportunities. The addition of the discover through photos feature allows users to explore family-friendly activities through curated images, leading to seamless booking options. With the potential to become a valuable tool for travelers and activity providers, businesses must optimize their Google Business Profiles to increase visibility and attract customers. As Google continues to enhance its travel offerings, industry players should closely monitor these developments to stay ahead in an ever-evolving market.