Google has experimented quite a bit with different ways how to make the popular Maps feature more interactive and more immersive for consumers. Only recently we have reported about Maps Gallery. However, the latest attempt may have been the most successful so far: Google Night Walks.
NIGHT WALKS WITH GOOGLE
Night Walks is a Street View based feature that takes users on a loosely guided tour about street art in the French city of Marseille. The feature allows users to discover a total of 34 hotspots. A tour guide introduces a range of landmarks, art and scenic views; underpinned by ambient sounds of the city and smooth jazzy music. The hotspots that are placed throughout the tour include a mixture of:
- Embedded Youtube videos showing how street art was made
- Picture close ups
- Photo galleries
- Panorama views
- Embedded text content and external links (e.g. Wikipedia, etc)
While it does not allow users to explore the entire city, Night Walk does let you wander off the beaten path and down some alleys to make new discoveries.
IMMERSIVE PRE TRIP EXPERIENCE
This innovative campaign of Google showcases the potential that real-live images have for marketing destinations. Allowing visitors to explore the destination prior to travelling through real-live imagery is nothing new in the world of digital destination marketing. Myswitzerland.com is a good example of how real live images (e.g. Webcams, StreetView, Panoramas) are integrated into low level content pages, to provide a more authentic and interactive pre-trip experience.
However, a feature like Night Walks has the potential to not only create a truly immersive experience for potential visitors. But through the integration of multiple media (i.e. video, pictures, text, audio, further links), it would allow DMOs to make intangible tourism experiences (e.g. ‘exploring’ a city) more tangible. This is in turn a powerful tool for converting customers, by providing them a much clearer idea of what a particular destination has to offer prior to booking a trip.
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