Businesses are progressively getting to hang on VR’s potential as a marketing tool, delivering important information to potential customers in a way they can actually experience, and stimulating multiple senses in the process even though most of the applications of modern virtual reality are entertainment-based.
Virtual Reality has become significant within the hospitality industry, because of the amount of information the average customer needs before they will actually book a hotel room. Instead of reading through descriptions, which may or may not be trustworthy, it offers customers the chance to experience things for themselves.
For example, the technology allows customers to experience a virtual recreation of a room within a hotel, or take a look at one of the nearby amenities. Imperatively, this allows the hotel industry to benefit from the type of ‘try before you buy’ marketing that has been commonplace within the food industry for decades.
The practical uses for Virtual Reality technology do not stop when the customer has booked a hotel room. In fact, those within the hospitality industry can continue to use VR to deliver information and allow customers to experience nearby attractions and amenities once they have arrived, adding to the hotel experience itself.
Although the use of artificial intelligence within the hotel industry is still in its relative infancy, it already has numerous practical applications, some of which are outlined in more detail below:
An example of artificial intelligence in the hospitality industry is the use of AI to deliver in-person customer service. We are already seeing the development of robots with artificial intelligence and the potential for this technology to grow is enormous. Already, it is able to deal with basic customer-facing situations.
The best example of this so far has been an AI robot called ‘Connie’, adopted by Hilton. The robot is able to provide tourist information to customers who interact with it. Most impressively, it is able to learn from human speech and adapt to individuals. Ultimately, this means the more customers speak to it, the better it will get.
Probably, the most obvious way artificial intelligence can be deployed by those within the hospitality industry is for front-facing customer service. In particular, the technology has been shown to be extremely effective when it comes to direct messaging and online chat services, responding to simple questions or requests.
AI chatbots have been utilized on social media platforms, allowing customers to ask questions and get almost instantaneous responses, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is invaluable to hotels because it provides the type of response times that are almost impossible to maintain with human-to-human interaction.
Data Analysis technology can be used to quickly sort through large amounts of data and draw important conclusions about customers, or potential customers.
By using this technology, the companies are able to sort through data collected via surveys, online reviews etc. and the AI has been able to then analyze this to draw conclusions about overall performance.
The full potential of virtual reality in the hotel industry is only recently being recognized. Nevertheless, three of the best current uses of the technology are outlined below:
One of the most common uses of virtual reality in the hospitality industry so far has been the creation of virtual travel experiences, using 360-degree video technology. Through this, users can experience a virtual recreation of different aspects of travel, from the flight to arrival to some of the key sights.
Virtual Reality is commonly used within the hotel industry is for virtual hotel tours. These tours can be made available on hotel websites, allowing guests or potential guests to take a look at their hotel room, or other parts of the hotel before they book or before they arrive.
While these tours are best experienced with a VR headset, they can also be made available to those without access to a headset on social media sites like Facebook, using its 360-degree video technology.
Another interesting use of VR technology in recent times has been the creation of virtual reality booking processes. This has recently been put into action by companies like Amadeus, allowing customers to look for flights, compare hotel prices and book rooms through a virtual reality headset.
The potential for this has not yet been fully explored, but it is easy to see how this VR booking process can allow customers to explore virtual hotel rooms, experience local sights and book a room seamlessly. So far a handful of prestigious hotels opted for VR Services.
Many hotels are seeing the benefits of using AR technology to make the hotel environment more enjoyable to spend time in. For example, Holiday Inn created an augmented reality hotel experience, which allowed guests to point their smartphone and see realistic virtual depictions of famous celebrities in the hotel.
Meanwhile, Best Western experimented with augmented reality and Disney stars, allowing children to see themselves alongside characters from Disney films, and other hotels have used AR apps to allow guests to virtually redecorate.
Pokemon Go was one of the first mainstream examples of augmented reality hitting the gaming world, but its success has led to an increase in usage of the technology. The hospitality industry is now getting in on the action, using AR games to improve the overall experience of staying in a hotel.
Hotels are often able to make their location an important part of an established AR game. However, there is also the potential to develop their own apps, which can make exploring the hotel or local area more enjoyable.
Hotel owners can use interactive elements within hotel rooms with the help of augmented reality to boost their offering. An example of this is seen with The Hub Hotel from Premier Inn in the United Kingdom, which has started using AR in conjunction with wall maps placed in its hotel rooms.
By pointing a smartphone at the map, guests are able to see additional information about local places of interest, magnifying the use of the map itself and potentially making their stay more suited and enjoyable.