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The new Touring Bird, Google’s guide for smart travellers

Twenty cities, including Rome, divided into categories and themes to allow users to choose customised activities and experiences

When you organize a vacation, the issues are always the same. Where do we sleep? What should we see? When is it best to go? Though there are dozens of websites conceived to offer quick comparisons between different solutions for where to stay, there is no major portal that deals with activities and experiences. To fill this demand, and others, Google has created Touring Bird (T.BD), a web app that is in fact an interactive guide.

Users can contribute by commenting on the experiences, suggesting the best times to visit the most significant monuments or revealing hidden spots that are absolutely worth visiting.

This way the information available to users is constantly evolving, and at least in theory, is not influenced by specific interests. While it is true that there are other platforms that collect user reviews about a wide range of activities, first and foremost Tripadvisor, T.BD presents itself as something entirely new, that serves as a bridge between supply and demand. At the moment, the latest creature to come out of Google’s Area 120 (a start-up incubator founded in 2016 and defined as “a workshop for experimental products”) intends to become the reference point for people who travel to some of the most popular tourist cities on the planet.

Las Vegas ©

Each of the locations on T.BD is divided into four categories: Top Sights (things you shouldn’t miss), Tour & Activities (with the possibility of reserving guided tours or activities involving local culture or folklore), Local tips (sites or experiences strongly recommended by the local community) and Free tours (by local guides, who may be tipped at the end of the tour). For each monument, activity or experience, it lists interesting facts and different options, to give users a wider range of choices. A concrete example? If you visit the page dedicated to Paris, a destination that is very popular in the months of October and November, apart from the classics such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and Montmartre, you can reserve a walking tour through the streets of the city with a private photographer, explore the old abandoned railroad ring, or shop at the oldest candy store in the city.

For those who don’t have a specific idea of what they want to do, there are six typologies of interests for each destination. This is where social media and the attention to new trends, elements which a giant such as Google can definitely not ignore, find their greatest expression.

Rome ©

From thematic itineraries focused on art, architecture and design, to those that include activities for families with children, to the best places to take pictures to post on Instagram and other social media platforms.

The list of 20 destinations now available on the Touring Bird website, features European cities such as London, Barcelona and Paris, and North American cities such as Las Vegas, New York and San Francisco. The only exception is New Delhi, the Indian megalopolis which is seeking to become a reference point for tourists who wish to visit the most densely populated subcontinent in the world. And Italy? Our country is represented by Rome, not only because it is the capital and the city with the highest number of visitors, but also because of the extraordinary richness of its cultural heritage.


translation by Olga Barmine

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