How virtual reality can make a big noise in the hospitality industry

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As CEO of VIP Worldwide, an international luxury hospitality film and marketing agency, I am consistently striving to discover new ways for our clients to reach and engage with their target demographic. The modern traveller is curious and savvy, which means they neither require or appreciate traditional sales techniques. Virtual reality (VR) is revolutionising the way hotels communicate with the world. Marketing with virtual reality is here and it’s here to stay.

Our hoteliers’ potential guests desire authenticity and genuine information about the properties they are likely to visit, whether for business or pleasure. In a recent study by Avenue9 (a division of JLL) they found that “hotels offering a virtual tour are seeing online revenue increases of 135 percent over hotels without one"

VR increases sales due to its numerous benefits. It helps with the upgrade path, the travel trade get to know your property without visiting, and meetings and event planners understand the destination’s offering better.

Our team debated whether VR could be another 'nice to have', where the gimmick of the technology was of greater attraction than its benefits, relevance and potential ROI within our industry. Especially, when in recent years, advents such as Google Glass and 3D television seemed to come and go without much impact.

Global giants may spend millions of pounds on technology, however this does not mean that their developments will be of universal appeal or use to the masses. As with any business, we must establish the right balance between innovation and white elephants. It is vital to not only justify the investment costs, but to also uphold a brand reputation.

VR technology is constantly evolving. Developers have already proven that it has a great appeal across many platforms, predominantly within the gaming industry. Our challenge was to make the technology appear invisible, using VR as an exceptional marketing tool to help increase awareness and revenue for our industry.

Marketing with virtual reality is here – and it’s here to say

We thought that the VR technology needed to be tailored for hospitality in both B2B and B2C. It had to appeal to our clients’ well established video rich marketing strategies and be easily accessible.

Due to our extensive knowledge of the luxury sector, our solution was to invest in VR and develop bespoke software, both with and without the need for headsets.

Our virtual reality development team provide an intuitive layout, allowing the viewer to feel and breathe every element of a client’s property. Within each VR app, we can program each room in HD 360 video, add information points, regular 2D HD video, 360 photography and other digital collateral. All our Virtual Reality packages come with immersive 360 video and interactivity as standard. They are compatible with any VR goggles on the market. Not only this, but we provide non-goggle VR experiences for tablet, smartphone and desktops.

VR is revolutionising the way hotels communicate with the world. The technology allows their potential guests to be temporarily transported to sample authentic moments, experiences and adventures. Putting guests at the centre of the story is changing the way they interact and engage with the hospitality and travel industry. YouTube has fully embraced VR (this can be seen with a VR icon), indicating the increasing accessibility of new methods of visual communication.

In summary, the five primary reasons as to why VR is set to become one of the most vital benefits to hospitality are as follows:

  • VR greatly enhances the customer experience, moving from the traditional ‘look before you book’, to fully immersive experiences
  • VR is an extremely powerful marketing and communications tool. It is changing how people travel and make travel decisions
  • The technology allows guests to be temporarily transported to sample authentic moments and adventures
  • Putting guests at the centre of the story is changing the way they experience and interact with the hospitality and travel industry
  • VR experiences enthral and fascinate both clients and their guests. It has the power to engage and emotionally affect audiences like no other media platform

Establishments in the hospitality industry that have begun using VR include Autograph Collection Hotels, The Leading Hotels of the World and Rosewood Hotels and Resorts. Studies show that of those who have tried the technology, 81% will tell their friends about the experience, while 79% will seek to try it again, according to Greenlight VR.

The possibilities are endless for hotels, resorts and destinations. By applying simple movement and pausing to look at a feature, the user can navigate from restaurant to spa, to the beach and beyond. From amazing walkthroughs of hotels, to exploring every aspect of every room, guest experience and local destination.

Curious travellers seek engagement in many different ways. VR is an incredibly social and exciting experience, offering unique storytelling possibilities. VIP Worldwide predicts marketing spend will shift further towards VR as smart travellers' expectations continue to evolve. 

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