Virtual reality is of growing interest to hoteliers and hotel marketers, who can increasingly see the benefits of applying this pioneering tech in a new and exciting arena. But where to start when utilising this emerging trend within the hospitality industry?
What is VR?
VR stands for virtual reality. Once the stuff of science fiction, virtual reality’s popularity has grown over the decades to inspire games developers, tech pioneers and business owners alike. Virtual reality technology allows users to become fully immersed in new scenarios and environments via complex 3D simulations. Devices like headsets and an array of controllers help to breathe life into the surroundings created through virtual reality, whilst simultaneously tracking the movements and actions of the immersed individual, and transplanting them into the virtual space. Varieties of different sensory additions are offered in return, including sight, sound and on occasion, touch.
Marketing with Virtual Reality
Never content to sit on the side-lines when there’s new tech on the scene, savvy marketers have been showing great interest in this emerging technology, as a means of connecting brand stories with genuine audience participation. The possibilities for marketing within a virtual reality environment are almost endless – and virtual reality in the hospitality industry has a very particular appeal…
VR for Hotel Marketing
When you sell a stay at your hotel, you aren’t just selling time in a hotel room –you’re selling an experience. Imagine if you could give potential guests a taster of that experience using virtual reality in hospitality marketing communications.
Marriot International have already taken advantage of virtual reality by immersing visitors at their New York ‘Teleporters’ in a completely virtual world for a few moments. Thomas Cook placed a virtual reality headset in a small number of their European stores and encouraged visitors to experience snapshots of potential holiday destinations – complete with sights and sounds.
As an experiential marketing tool, it’s hard to imagine many other current technologies coming close to the possibilities of VR. Whilst Marriot and Thomas Cook chose to use virtual reality to give potential guests a taster of the great outdoors, there is also the potential to harness virtual reality’s power to bring life to hotel room tours before guests book.
Imagine how many undecided travellers might be willing to choose an upgraded experience if they experienced a tiny taster of it first? Other areas of your hotel which spark interest – an attractive lobby, a beautiful dining room, a great bar – could also be tried on for size by guests eager to get the very best out of their travel destination.
Should you use VR tech to market your hotel?
The full extent of VR’s power as a marketing tool has yet to be seen, but as devices continue to improve and customers get ever more technologically engaged, it is only a matter of time. For hoteliers eager to stay ahead of the curve, examining how virtual reality can be included in your hotel’s efforts could be a crucial step towards safeguarding a profitable future.