The Pokemon Go app’s viral success has increased public awareness of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology. The game app uses augmented reality to superimpose Pokemon images over real-world locations where players aim their phones, bringing the fantasy world to life. Businesses of all kinds, including hotels, are racing to find new and imaginative methods to attract and entertain customers using AR and VR, immersing consumers in a virtual world.
Guests Will Be Astounded By Immersive Experiences
The buzz may also increase awareness of existing hotel projects in AR and VR marketing, entertainment, and other hotel industry trends. For example, the Best Western Virtual Reality Experience was expanded to all of the brand’s North American hotels this summer. The Best Western project makes 360-degree movies of its properties, which can be viewed online or through a VR headset for a more immersive experience. The goal is to provide potential visitors a virtual tour of each property’s rooms and amenities to encourage them to book by impressing them with the chain’s new design.
International Data Corporation’s global exports of virtual reality technology would surge in 2016, with total volumes hitting 9.6 million units. Virtual reality has piqued the interest of 44 percent of American consumers, according to Statista.
To capitalize on this enthusiasm, hotels are turning to virtual reality (VR) as entertainment. Marriott’s VRoom service loaned visitors Samsung Gear VR headsets for 24 hours in a 2015 test experiment, allowing them to virtually travel with a guide to three exotic locales using Samsung’s VR platform. While the brand evaluates the outcomes, the VR content is now available online.
Hotels are also experimenting with augmented reality, which can be used for personalized wayfinding, such as highlighting destinations inside or outside the hotel based on the guest’s itinerary or interests, bringing signage and virtual brochures to life, and providing menus with images of dishes or translations for non-English speakers. Holiday Inn devised a sort of augmented reality with pre-recorded movies that allows guests to “see” sports stars around the hotel. AR experiences can be accessed through an app on a smartphone or tablet or through the use of a particular pair of glasses.
These companies aren’t the only ones working on AR and VR marketing and entertainment projects in the hospitality industry. According to Skift, Shangri-La Hotels and Hilton are among companies using virtual reality for marketing. At the same time, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group employs a virtual reality-enhanced app to teach investors and developers about its Radisson Blu hotel brand’s design process.
Perspectives on the Future
However, it is still early in the game. According to Deloitte, 2016 will be a “year of experimentation,” as companies test new ideas to see which ones provide value and attract customers. They must also make sure that they have the infrastructure and know-how to develop and manage great content at scale. According to most forecasts, the most significant impact will come later as VR technology finds its home.
Faith Popcorn, a futurist, paints a stunning picture of the role VR will play in hospitality in the future. “Consumers will want immersive experiences that will allow them to luxuriate in luxury in both a physical and virtual sense,” Popcorn stated in a report commissioned by InterContinental Hotels & Resorts for its 70th anniversary. According to Travel Weekly, hotels will be able to provide visitors with once-in-a-lifetime experiences smoothly and spontaneously — or so it will appear — by leveraging virtual reality and the constant flow of personal likes, dislikes, and bio-data. Popcorn also anticipates guests adopting virtual reality to send virtual postcards to their loved ones back home or participate in dangerous experiences without the risk. Hotels might potentially use virtual reality to generate virtual interior designs throughout their facilities.
On the other hand, hotels will have to take a (virtual) crawl-walk-run approach to get there. To spend VR expenditures wisely, keep an eye on developing VR marketing and entertainment best practices, as well as related hotel industry trends.
However, if the meteoric rise of Pokemon Go is any indication, getting AR and VR technology right may generate the kind of engagement and excitement that every hotel CMO desires.
Fans can also use virtual reality to immerse themselves in live events such as sports games and concerts by just donning a headset.