3 Ways to Kickstart Virtual Reality in the Age of COVID-19
- Posted by Arielle Rubenstein
- On May 11, 2020
“Travel is so much more than a picture of a beautiful beach or a video of a bustling city. Travel is experience.”
That’s why Marriott Hotels got ahead of the game to launch the world’s first in-room Virtual Reality Travel experiences in 2015. While the technology has evolved in the following years, the overall concept remains: travelers want more than to just see a destination. They want to immerse themselves in it, which is exactly why virtual reality can be such a valuable tool for travel marketers.
Here’s a roundup of the latest trends and technologies that hoteliers need to know.
Virtual Venue Tours Are the New Norm
The COVID-19 pandemic forced business travel to cease, at least in the short term. In the interim, virtual site visits have replaced in-person tours for corporate travel managers. Virtual tours are a crucial tactic to implement for properties that rely on corporate travel, and it is likely that virtual exploration of a venue will become the new norm.
For example, Skift reports that Cambria Hotels have taken 150 clients on virtual tours that “…include live walk-throughs hosted by local sales staff and real-time Q&A sessions.” A spokesperson for the company further explained that “These new tours are resonating with clients and uncovering new efficiencies for corporate travel.”
VR Tour Tools
There are myriad tools that you can use to offer virtual walk-throughs depending on the quality of the experience you wish to create.
Tools Worth the Investment
- Matterport: This 3D platform creates “immersive digital twins” of your venues. Be inspired by this example of Matterport’s technology in action at the Belfry Hotel & Resort.
- Note that a free, basic version is available to try it out.
- XR Event Planner: Intercontinental Hotels Group partnered with Accenture to create this event planning solution that combines augmented reality, mixed reality, and virtual reality. The collaborative app allows sales staff and event planners to visualize and customize venues virtually, with the overall goal to “significantly improve the way hotels sell meeting space while supporting sales of associated hotel rooms, and food and beverages.”
- Check out this live example of this tool in-action for the Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown.
Hotels Are Attracting New Guests via Virtual Property Tours
Hoteliers often ask what changes to make to their website to increase direct booking. One clear answer going forward is virtual property tours. While photo galleries adequately show the style of your hotel, only an immersive 3D tour can communicate the space and feel of your property and guest rooms.
Virtual Ways to Showcase Your Hotel
If you want to immerse your prospective guests in one specific amenity, consider an interactive 360 tour like this one for Atlantis Dubai. If you’d prefer to try this yourself, here’s a recent list of the best 360 cameras on the market.
If your property has spacious suites with multiple rooms to explore, consider a virtual walkthrough. Matterport’s virtual reality tech works equally well for meeting venues and hotel accommodations, as shown by this virtual tour of one of the suites at The Grove Resort & Spa.
A no-cost alternative is to use your smartphone to film a tour of your rooms and property, and share it on social media. Consider hosting a “LIVE” tour where users can comment with which part of the hotel they want to see next — a modern-day choose your own adventure.
Screen Pilot Social Team Tip: Make sure to use a smartphone stabilizer for a smooth video that won’t make viewers nauseous.
Tourism Boards Are Showcasing Their Destinations, Virtually
Did you know that 73 percent of millennials say they check a hotel’s social media feed before booking? If your social feed’s content is already on-point, the last step to convince them to book is to give users a sense of your location — especially important for management groups with properties all over the world.
- Take a page from Hidden Scotland’s book and create a multi-sensory social post that includes sounds guests can expect to hear at your resort.
- While the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been postponed, the Japan National Tourism Organization hopes to attract new visitors with this 360-degree virtual reality movie. Participants can enjoy sumo wrestling, watch a Geisha performance, and even explore a bamboo forest — all from their smartphone.
- If your property is in an attraction-rich locale, consider using a 360 camera or your smartphone to film the best things to see and do in your city.
Interested in jumping into the virtual reality arena for your hotel or resort? Get in touch.
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