Tech Spotlight: Virtual Reality in Hospitality
Virtual Reality - or VR for short - is one of the fastest growing technology trends. The convergent technology utilises images, sounds, and sometimes even physical sensations to allow users to immerse themselves in a virtual world. With the help of 360 viewer headsets and increasingly-intuitive controls, users can guide themselves around both fictional and recognisable locations from around the world.
With the ability to transport oneself to the Maldives from ones living room, VR has some serious potential for the hospitality industry. With competition between hoteliers heating up, maintaining customer engagement can be challenging, but with the help of VR, hotel chains can find new ways to enhance the guest experience, improve their marketing tools and encourage travel and hotel bookings.
How Hotels are Incorporating VR into their Offering
- Virtual Hotel Tours
Designed to immerse and communicate with an audience, some hotels are now offering a 360-degree virtual walkthrough tour of their hotel. This is a fantastic marketing and sales tool that can quickly provide users with information on a hotel's facilities without the need to scroll through vast amounts of information. These tours are best experienced with a VR headset however 360-degree video technology can also be viewed via a smartphone – still very effective and much easier to share with a large audience. The Atlantis Dubai 360 virtual tour is available to view on YouTube here or explore the magnificent Shangri-La hotels and destinations from around the world on their website here.
- Virtual Travel Experiences
For most, planning a holiday is an expensive luxury which often requires careful consideration, especially if the desired destination is halfway around the world. To assist potential customers, hotel chains, resorts, and even airline companies have introduced ‘virtual travel experiences’ to completely transform and improve the ‘look before you book’ process. These travel experiences allow potential customers to have a taste of what a holiday in some destinations would be like. The virtual videos recreate different aspects of travel, from the hotel to the beach to key sights and tourist hot spots.
Marriott Hotels have recently designed ‘the teleporter’ with the aim to give customers ‘a vision of the future of travel.’ The teleporter is not just a VR headset, it is also a walk-in booth featuring smells, temperature change, wind and movement to make the experience even more realistic. One of their virtual travel experiences is a ‘honeymoon to London and Hawaii.’ Look at the making of Marriott Hotels’ virtual travel experience here.
- Virtual Browsing and Payment
Although VR browsing and payment is not yet conventional, the technology has been introduced to the hospitality industry. The Amadeus IT group launched a travel search and booking experience which allows users to visit any destination, search for flights, walk through the plane, select a seat, pick a rental car and pay for their entire trip – all through a virtual reality headset. Watch a demonstration of the technology here. This futurist approach to booking and payment will allow consumers to decide based on a very realistic experience. It is also designed to make a lasting impression on the user, leading to brand engagement and loyalty – especially if the process is not only immersive but quick and easy to navigate. Expedia, the travel booking website is looking to offer a new, more immersive way to book and browse countries and hotels with VR – so stay tuned!
The Future of VR
The Director of Engineering at Google believes that ‘’we will spend more of our time in virtual augmented realities, allowing us to visit each other (even touch each other), despite being hundreds of miles apart.’’
VR technology has started to help the hospitality industry create a far superior, informative experience but is still very much in its infancy with the full extent of its potential not yet commonly seen in hotels. We do however expect this to change in the not-so-distant future with the likes of Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Express and Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group showing significant interest into the use of VR in hotels. Whether it’s used by marketing to inspire travel and encourage bookings, in-house to improve the customer experience or as an additional entertainment platform- it’s clear that virtual reality has a place in the future of our hospitality industry, eventually allowing hotels to become a universal hospitality and entertainment provider - not just a hotel.
Part of wi-Q Technologies' vision is to offer a means for venues to not only integrate emerging technology such as VR into their existing operations, but a means to generate and measure its ROI. Through leading integrations with the world’s leading hospitality technology providers, such as Oracle, Amadeus, Agilysys, PayPal and many more, wi-Q and Mi-Room offer exactly that.
To find out more about Mi-Room’s app-free mobile ordering solution for your hotel’s F&B and guest services please email [email protected].