Is Taking a Virtual Tour Part of Your Pre-Stay Research? (Best Western Hopes So)
Today, Best Western International officially began a partnership with Google to put together virtual tours of all 2,200 of its properties. The plan is to have Google professionally photograph the entire hotel, then string them together to create a "walk-through" experience on the hotel's website.
“Best Western’s leadership and owners acted strongly and decisively on two superior market insights: consumer decision making in the hospitality category is increasingly moving online, and the internet is becoming more of a visually-driven medium,” said Best Western’s Dorothy Dowling, senior vice president of marketing and sales.
While there's no question Dowling is correct in her assessment on a general level when it comes to the Internet, we're still wondering how consumers feel about hotel websites. When we talked about them this summer, photos were definitely something potential customers enjoyed looking at, but experienced hotel-goers also noted how misleading "professional" photos can sometimes be, showing the hotel at its absolute best and not necessarily how it looks day-to-day.
Despite this, we have to applaud the recognition that potential customers want to see visuals of the hotel before they book -- this we know for sure. The best way for that visual experience to be delivered is to be determined, but given that this is the first real push for virtual tours we've seen, we are curious as to how useful they will be for Best Western International. So long as they are accurate representations of the property, we definitely appreciate having the option available.
Still, the big question looms: Will the investment bring its hotels more business?