Since its launch at the Destinations International Annual Convention in 2017, the Google DMO Partnership Program has received significant industry attention. An initiative that seeks to engage destinations around the world, the program offers opportunities for destinations to learn more about ways to enhance their consumer-facing content across Google’s range of products. One such opportunity is to capture and share Street View 360 imagery of destinations.
The decision-making process for travelers choosing a destination can take months and involve thousands of different digital touchpoints. While maps used to be seen as just a wayfinding tool, they are increasingly being used by travelers for gaining a better understanding of a destination before making the decision to visit. The ability for potential travelers to virtually immerse themselves in a destination before they book can be incredibly powerful, and there’s no better tool to help that process than Google’s Street View platform.
Up until last fall, 99% of DMOs didn’t have a role in the platform because the only way Street View imagery could be created was through official Google programs. Today, with new equipment like the Insta360 Pro, DMOs can have a tremendous impact on how their destination is presented with the ability to capture and post up-to-date Street View images directly to Google Maps at any time.
One destination that has successfully taken advantage of this platform is Bermuda. The Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) was the first national DMO to capture and update its own Street View content for the entire country, and the Miles team couldn’t have been more excited to work with the BTA on this project.
Since Street View footage of Bermuda had not been captured since 2015, the BTA wanted to proactively capture new footage of the island in addition to covering roads that had never been shot – thereby inviting the world to step into Bermuda, look around and discover the island’s unique beauty and character. To accomplish this, we mounted an Insta360 Pro camera to a car and took off to capture the country. Everywhere we went, locals were welcoming and eager to show off everything the island had to offer. Driving from sunrise to sunset each day that week, we were able to experience how beautiful and well-maintained the destination truly is. (And now you, too, can experience it from wherever you are!)
In just six days, our in-market team documented 263 miles of road, expanding the island’s Street View coverage by four times. More than 366,000 total images were uploaded to Google Street View and, in just the first month and a half, the new Street View content garnered more than 3.5 million views! In fact, the Bermuda Google DMO Street View Program was just recognized with a 2018 Platinum Adrian Award from HSMAI.
With travelers encountering BTA content outside of an owned channel and within the product of a major, trusted international brand such as Google, the program reinforces the BTA brand as a quality source of information. All of the uploaded images contain the Bermuda logo and URL, providing further brand exposure with the potential of millions of views per year.
There are many valuable benefits that Street View offers DMOs.
The first, and most obvious: destinations can take control of Street View coverage in their destination. Using a device like the Insta360 Pro, you have control over what is shot, when it’s shot and how often it’s updated. But just like using any camera equipment, there’s a difference between having the ability to capture 360 images and achieving the quality of imagery that best represents the destination. That’s where professional 360 photographers come in, who utilize 360 photospheres, virtual tours and Street View content captured by driving to help a destination visually tell their story and inspire more travelers to visit.
A second major advantage of Street View is the opportunity for attribution, branding and reporting using Google’s Street View platform. In the case with Bermuda, 366,322 photospheres were added to Google Maps, each including BTA’s branding at the bottom. While it’s not the place to feature a flashy display ad, it is a significant source of exposure for a DMO like Bermuda, whose 366,322 images get more than one million views per month.
Street View works on just about any platform, including being automatically enabled for VR experiences using devices such as the Google Daydream or Oculus products. It’s a great way for potential visitors to “test drive” your destination, so it’s essential that the imagery is high quality and up to date. Because Street View content is ubiquitous and doesn’t require a special player, you can include Street View basically anywhere. You can embed Street View content right into web pages or blog posts, and be able to tell a story about that place. For example, this is Silk Alley in St. George’s, Bermuda:
On August 1, 1834, slavery was abolished on Bermuda. To celebrate this momentous occasion, former female slaves put on their finest silk dresses and petticoats to proudly parade down this lane. As they walked, it was said that you could hear the swish of the fabric brushing up against the narrow alley’s wall.
The BTA's innovative Street View program for Bermuda, one of the first of its kind, really demonstrates how this platform can be successfully put to use by other DMOs. Check out this video that Google produced documenting the process in Bermuda:
For more information on the technical side of using the Insta360 Pro Camera, check out Insta360’s blog post featuring Miles’ work with Bermuda Tourism Authority.
Want to learn more about Street View for your destination? Visit the Google DMO Partnership Program page, or fill out our contact form to learn more about Street View or the Google DMO Partnership Program support services.