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Posted by on Sep 19, 2017 in Digital Industry News

Augmented Reality in Hospitality – A Whole New World

As advertising in the hospitality industry becomes more competitive, catching your target audience’s eye and maintaining customer engagement can pose a challenge. In this tech-driven, millennial-centric era, it is imperative to set yourself apart and convince your on-site visitors that you are the travel company central to all their travel needs. In 2015, Marriott’s pledge to innovation brought forward virtual reality (VR) as the next development in the field of experiential marketing. Known for consistently pushing technological boundaries, Marriott introduced and tested VR set-ups in New York and London to change the way people make travel plans.

Marriott Virtual Reality(Image Source: Framestore VR)

In collaboration with Oculus and Samsung Electronics, the concept of teleporting was made possible by being whisked away to a whole new world (yes, cue Disney’s Aladdin soundtrack), incorporating real sensory experiences. What’s the big deal? Well, Marriott successfully led the industry by combining two key elements: storytelling and technology, allowing guests to follow real travelers on different journeys, to “travel brilliantly.” Super cool, isn’t it? Now, the question is, what did we learn from that experience, and why should we consider incorporating VR again?

Marriott VR(Image Source: World Economic Forum)

3 Reasons VR Is Needed in the Hospitality and Travel Industry

  1. It’s Real. Instead of showcasing a destination via pre-filmed videos, you can transport your customers to our far-off resorts without having them leave the room. With VR technology, this 4-D experience is as good as the real deal and holds the potential of enhancing the client experience. It has the power to completely transform the “look before you book” idea to a real-life simulation. Driving an emotional capability like no other media platform, guests are given the opportunity to temporarily sample precious moments and unforgettable adventures. Real life over reel life any day, right?
  1. It’s competitive. Think about it – VR can be a very powerful marketing and communications tool. A unique tool to aid travel decision-making processes, we can truly leverage our brands and the experiences we offer on a global scale. Furthermore, by placing our guests in the center of our destinations virtually, we have the ability to change the way they interact with us in the hospitality and travel industry. Whilst other industries step forward and welcome VR with open arms, perhaps it’s time we bring it back as well to differentiate our merchandising practices from those employed by our competitors.
  1. It’s cost effective. Now you’re thinking: Wow, this is whack – there is no way we’re investing in this super-expensive technology. But what if we think of it from a long-term investment point of view? Yes, an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive ranges from $599-$799, excluding the cost of developing 4-D content (and you’re probably scoffing at the thought of wasting money), but the return on investment is projected to be higher. For some, this may not be convincing enough, but, sometimes, the lasting impression can be of a greater value – one we hold close to our hearts.

Virtual Reality Marriott(Image Source: Framestore VR)

Here’s to the Future

VR just provides another outlet for creative marketing and implementing groundbreaking trends into this industry – the results that can be achieved through this are limitless. To start off, one could utilize this tool specifically for event planning, such as destination weddings, honeymoon travels and other special occasions, providing a true taste of what the location has to offer. You wonder, would someone really want to check out their venue virtually over being there in person? Perhaps not, but VR could be the first in line to entice our guests with all that we can offer. VR provides an affordable means to decision-making for some couples and families, rather than an in-person trip to sign a contract for the desired event destination. Although this may not be a guaranteed reservation, it is definitely a means of consideration in travel decision-making. By adding informative material in the content that decision makers will appreciate, we can stay ahead of guest expectations and obtain a marketing advantage.

I don’t know about y’all, but I am all in for teleporting!

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