Unlocking the Magic: A Beginner’s Guide to Embracing VR and AR in Hospitality
From dazzling views of the Grand Canyon to gorgeous rooms at a five-star hotel, experiential travel is all the rage.
Today’s travellers want unique and unforgettable experiences, like zip-lining over Costa Rica’s rainforests or taking a cooking class in Tuscany. But what is next?
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are already changing the way hospitality industry professionals market their products to potential customers and how they train their employees.
Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR): What are they? (MR, VR and AR)
- Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-simulated environment that creates a realistic experience for the user.
- Augmented Reality (AR) is a live, direct, or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, or GPS data.
- Mixed Reality (MR) combines VR and AR to produce an enhanced experience where real and virtual objects can coexist in the same space.
It is all about the experience
Technology is essential, but it’s not everything.
You are not just selling a product or service. You are selling an experience. Your customers want to feel like they are part of something special and unique. They want to know that they are getting more than a good deal, they are getting an experience worth their time and money!
While VR and AR can be used for training purposes, it also has many other applications in the hospitality industry.
It can help create memorable experiences for your customers by creating immersive environments where you can engage them on multiple levels: visually with graphics and sound; physically with interactive elements; emotionally through story-telling visuals; socially through interaction with other people in VR worlds; cognitively through problem-solving activities.
VR and AR are not necessarily mutually exclusive
VR and AR are not necessarily mutually exclusive. VR is a fully immersive experience that uses a headset to block out your actual surroundings and replace them with images from the virtual world. With VR, you can be anywhere in the world, or even nowhere, and explore new worlds at your leisure.
On the other hand, AR takes advantage of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets to create mixed reality experiences: combining computer-generated graphics with real-world elements that are part of one another. In short: AR adds layers to your view of reality, whereas VR replaces it entirely.
So how do these two technologies inform each other? Well…
Why should you consider VR and AR for your brand?
You may be wondering what the big deal is. VR and AR are still in their preliminary stages of adoption and have yet to fully enter mainstream usage.
But do not let that fool you into thinking that they do not potential. Both technologies have the power to transform the way we interact with the world around us.
Imagine if tourists could explore your resort before visiting it by virtually walking through every room, climbing on its roofs and balconies, exploring its grounds, and even interacting with some of your employees?
Imagine if your customers could place themselves right where they want to be at home while trying out furniture options? What if they could spend time in an apartment complex without physically visiting?
VR and AR can help you create a more immersive and engaging experience for your customers, who will be able to see and feel like they were there at whatever location or event it was that interested them most about your brand.
Here’s how hospitality industry professionals use VR and AR today
VR and AR are used in the hospitality industry to improve customer experience, employee experience, operational efficiency, and marketing. Here are some areas where VR and AR are being used today:
Customer experience & marketing: This includes training employees on how to use a piece of equipment or using VR to create new hospitality experiences for clients. For example, Marriott Hotels has created an app called Marriott VR where users can ‘walk’ through different hotels worldwide without ever leaving their homes. You could also consider using VR technology if you wanted to provide your guests with an opportunity to see what one of your rooms looks like before they book it (or even after).
Digitally recreating your site via a ‘digital twin’ which exists in the plane of virtual reality have been proven to improve cross-team collaboration and site management, saving valuable time.
VR/AR can also be used for staff training through mock-up health & safety scenarios: training modules which studies have shown ensure greater memory retention for team members and therefore a much more streamlined and efficient operation all round. Staff training can be scaled more effectively, and it saves employees having to travel when immersive training is available to be completed remotely.
How can hotels benefit from VR/AR technology?
VR and AR technologies are becoming more accessible, affordable, and powerful. Their use is becoming more widespread by the day, from small businesses to large corporations.
VR and AR technologies can be integrated into your hotel’s marketing strategies to increase sales, brand awareness and customer loyalty. For example, AR-enabled apps providing ‘virtual keys’, interactive features within rooms, or ‘try before you book’ VR experiences.
VR and AR allows you to deliver personalised services that cater to each guest’s needs based on their preferences. It provides an entirely new medium to form deeper brand-customer relationships at every touch point and help to streamline the overall customer experience.
These technologies can help you provide a better customer experience and positively impact your bottom line
As a hospitality industry leader, you can lead the way in adopting these technologies. But what are some of the benefits of using AR and VR?
AR and VR can help you provide a better customer experience. Customers want to be immersed in their experience, and this technology allows them to do just that. These technologies enable customers to interact with your brand in more meaningful ways than traditional advertising methods, making them feel more connected and engaged with your business.
AR/VR also has a positive impact on your bottom line. By offering unique experiences through AR/VR technology, people will be more likely to purchase items from you because they have already experienced how great they are first-hand! This means higher conversion rates throughout all sales funnel stages (from awareness through to purchase).
It also means that people who visit often may purchase additional items from you in addition to what they initially came looking for because their previous experience made them so satisfied with everything else about your company (trustworthiness).
As with any new, disruptive technology, it has naturally taken time to discover the multi-industry applications of VR/AR.
At this moment in time, particularly after the rapid shifts of recent times, it is an exciting time where technology which was once considered too flashy or experimental now presents itself as a tremendous opportunity for brands to capitalise on, increase revenue, and streamline day-to-day operations.