Most travelers today are well informed regarding nearly every aspect of their trips before they even leave home. The Internet and all the informational resources it provides travel planners have ensured it to be reality. To that end, an emerging technology offers hoteliers valuable opportunities to enhance the presentation of their hotel properties to their potential guests. Closely related to virtual reality technology, yet importantly distinct from it, augmented reality is a tool available to hotels that can complement visual marketing imagery through any number of creative means.
Commonly confused with virtual reality, augmented reality uses computer technology to enhance rather than replace the real world environment. Conversely, virtual reality creates an entirely new environment for the user. Augmented reality can be deployed using digital components introduced in real-time and viewable via mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. The user sees a live image of a particular environment, which has digitally produced overlays atop the environment seen on their screen. The technology alters the environment as viewed on the device and can also interactively transform it for the user as well.
Augmented reality technology should be attractive to hoteliers for hotel marketing and customer service purposes because it utilizes technology to enhance the real-life hotel environment. This can greatly improve the customer experience before, during and after the guest’s stay. Hotels can develop their own booking app customized to each of their unique properties. This will enable hoteliers to showcase each of their hotel’s features, rooms and amenities in addition to enhanced imagery of the surrounding area destination.
Due to the lower threshold to entry for hotels, investing in augmented reality technology makes more sense for the hospitality industry at this time. Currently virtual reality technology requires dedicated hardware to replace the real world experience for the user. Since augmented reality can be implemented through a hotel app for example, it is a much better tool for hoteliers to build connection with their customers. Today’s traveling consumer seeks empowerment through knowledge in making all their travel arrangements. Augmented reality technology can help give them the affirmation they need in order to make an informed booking decision.
The millennial generation is now the dominating consumer force and they have grown up with technology in every facet of their lives. Going forward, technologies such as augmented reality will only become the expected standard for the hospitality industry.
In part two of this series we will see some of the innovative ways hotels can implement augmented reality technology into their marketing and customer service efforts.