Hotels and Destination Marketing Organizations are embracing VR in a big way. According to an article in Hotelier Magazine, “In the past year, Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Express, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Shangri-Law Hotels, and Resorts and Airbnb have all incorporated VR into the guest experience in some way.”
It’s a natural application of new technology to provide more real-world previews of guest experiences, whether for individual consumers or event planners.
Previews and Practicality
While the ability to provide guest previews is a popular application, hotels are also using this technology in other practical ways. At Holiday Inn, for example, VR is being used in the design process.
VR, says Trey Newstedt, brand communications specialist with Holiday Inn, IGH Reward Club and Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts, allows the organization to provide owners with realistic previews of design options — furniture, finishes and fabrics — before decisions and purchases are made. It’s a more efficient way to get feedback than building out a live model room, he says, and was well received at the company’s owners conference this year.
Beyond the “cool factor,” using 360-degree video to showcase destinations can pay big dividends, says Yancy Deering, director of communications with the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“The Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau began using 360-degree video to showcase our city as a destination for meeting planners. When done right, using this type of video can be extremely helpful,” says Deering. “We like to think of VR as an experience, not just a video. Our goal was to put the viewer into a story about Cincinnati that was immersive and emotional.”
It Doesn’t Cost, It Pays!
The CVB’s results demonstrate that VR was a very effective approach. Engagement at the 2016 IMEX Tradeshow was used as a benchmark for the success of the project, as a benchmark for success of the project, says Deering. Their results are impressive:
- 127 client visits to the booth, a 60 percent increase from 2015
- 35 RFPs received, a 59 percent increase from 2015
- RFPs received in 2016 were worth 45,000 hotel room nights, a 73 percent increase from the previous year
- Room nights equate to a potential economic impact of$13,410,000 in 2016, compared to $7,748,000 in 2015
Deering says that the VR experience is continuing to be used at other trade shows, client and sales events, face-to-face meetings and conference promotions to generate business.
Of the five VR experiences from other destinations and hospitality industry exhibitors at IMEX, the Cincinnati booth was the only VR to have an experience that was simulcast on a monitor for multiple users.
VR is quickly moving mainstream, becoming an expectation of consumers and event planners. How are you planning to incorporate VR into your communication and marketing efforts?