Technology in hospitality is inevitable. We already know that we have to make that upgrade for so many different reasons. From the basic practice of managing occupancy, the booking systems, and all the other operational matters. While many still argue on whether we should cheer or fear the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), several hotels are already making this futuristic option happen today and enhancing the guests’ experience, especially when they’re inside the hotel room. It doesn’t have to be as futuristically peculiar as the Henn na Hotel in Japan that has robots and AI running things, but elements of the technology can certainly be infused into the current experience.
But what about the journey long before that?
Booking a hotel room today is a learned skill. We have come a long way from simply walking into a property that hangs the “Vacancy” sign in front. Today’s savvy internet-age travelers already know what details to look for, how much they’re willing to pay for hotels, and other things to expect. Meanwhile, most hotels present themselves similarly online: showing the hotel brand, the nice comfy rooms, the lobby area, the friendly looking staff, etc. Most potential guests browse around comparing prices, locations, and facilities. But mostly they compare prices vs locations. Comparison sites are easily accessible and sometimes they truly strip off all the bells and whistles to really get guests to focus mainly on the dollars they will spend.
How well are hotels prepared to fend off the price competition, and hopefully get more guests through direct booking? Perhaps they should start investing in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Mixed Reality.
As Google’s 360 view is already popular and being used by people all over the world, many hotels have also added 360 view images of specific areas of the hotel properties on their websites. Mostly lobbies, rooms, and their most iconic spots. The ability to look around the panorama view is already giving more freedom for the potential guests to get a preview of the property at their own viewing pace. Enter Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.
With Virtual Reality, our current reality is replaced by the virtual world that it creates. This happens when you wear the VR goggles. You’re basically entering that virtual environment, and your sensors and senses are mostly cut out of your current environment. That’s the concept of Virtual Reality. Many people do like to immerse themselves in it, and the Virtual World can surely create a scenario. Remember that stylish Continental Hotel in Keanu Reeves’ movie “John Wick”? What if an actual Continental Hotel is opened and is promoted through a John Wick experience using Virtual Reality? Who wouldn’t want to book that hotel?
But what if the potential guests don’t want such immersive experience or simply don’t want their hair messy from wearing VR goggles?
Then, Augmented Reality is for them. This technology basically adds or augments graphics, information, animation, and other interactive elements into our current reality… using mobile devices or AR goggles. Again, the Augmented Reality experience will not cut you off from the current environment.
Imagine using this technology during trade shows or when promoting hotels in any events. Augmented Reality can pop up the hotel’s building and its surrounding environment, allow more interaction between the salesperson and the potential booker, and overall gives out a more progressive feel of the brand. That itself would increase the chance to book.
Whether a hotel uses virtual or augmented or mixed reality, the use of it must be done properly and relevantly. A quirky tech style or geek-themed hotel may choose to use technology more boldly and more cutting-edge, while business hotels should go more on functionality. Guests don’t even need to know what technology is used for what. Whichever it is, today’s guests are ready for the new tech experience.
Yasha Chatab, Director, Overseas Development WIR Group