NRMA and Google offer new travel planning tool

Google enterprise partner, Devnet, has built a mapping tool that allows users to map out a trip including car hire and accommodation

Explorers in Australia now have access to a new Google Maps application that allows them to organise and book a road trip anywhere within the country through one central website.

Developed by Google enterprise partner, Devnet, for insurance, motoring and travel company, NRMA, the application offers a street map of Australia, and overlays a database of more than 1000 locations including NRMA branches, service centres and Thrifty Car Rental Offices.

Users are able to access accommodation information and a full street-by-street breakdown of their trip. Devnet has also built in the ability for NRMA to sell geo-located advertising based on the planned trip of the user.

The overall solution incorporates Google Maps API, SQL Server, JScript, Ajax and Roamfree 3rd Party Booking Engine, as well as the custom-developed advertising platform.

NRMA has the ability to white-label and customise the platform for third-party subsidiary organisations and the project has been developed to be future-proof and scalable.

“Traffic has increased, and we haven’t turned on the advertising as yet,” Devnet managing director, Craig Deveson, said about the response to the program. “There will be significant opportunities for advertisers through this program – the average user spends significantly more time on this site than a typical webpage, as they will do a lot of 'what if' analysis and investigation while planning the trip.”

The site replaces a MapData sciences product that had been running for the past four years, Deveson said. NRMA opened the project up for tender, which Devnet won and then took three months to develop the application.

“We’ve been working with Google Maps for a few years but on a smaller scale,” Deveson said. "This is the first high-level strategic development that we’ve done – the first time we’ve scaled up the advertising solution for an enterprise deployment.”

Devnet and NRMA are looking at future developments of the solution. The first point of call will be an iPhone or Google Android solution to allow similar functionality on mobile devices.

“We’re hoping to have that running this side of Christmas, but no later than Q1 next year,” Deveson said. “Beyond that we’re also looking at developing a carbon calculator to help customers total the emissions cost of their trip, as well as a program to generate safe driving tips.”

Earlier this month, board game giant, Hasbro, built a version of Monopoly that covered the globe using maps through Google Earth and Street View.

The NRMA trip planner can be viewed here.