This is the second article of a series of 4 where we’ll discuss how Augmented Reality (AR) can be applied to the Hotel Business in order to add value and create new and unique services and experiences that happen before, during and after the guest’s stay.
In the previous article, we argued how the Tourism and Hospitality Industry has shifted from valuing products to valuing experiences and how AR can be leveraged to enhance guests’ experiences. In case you missed it, give it a look here

Now, let’s discuss how AR can be used by the Hotel Business to engage guests before their stay.

Today’s guests crave increased convenience and increased innovation. Hotels that do not move forward in these two areas risk being left behind. AR has the ability to transform how guests interact and perceive a hotel’s property, concept or brand. As previously discussed, AR has a huge potential to add information and content onto the user’s environment by adding new virtual layers to the real world.

Integrating AR features in already existing Hotel native apps can represent an additional marketing medium and boost the app’s usage before guests step foot in the hotel property itself. This increase in usage can help Hotels build a more complete guest profile, analysing their interactions, personal preferences, needs, consumer habits and create a more personalized offer in return.

AR technology is a great fit for the Hotel Business and its guests because it addresses two primary traveller needs: information and entertainment. Brochures, ads and other marketing materials are all about bringing a property to life for a potential guest, but AR takes that concept up several notches. AR can also be used to enhance the online booking experience for hotel guests by making it possible for them to feel as if they’ve personally visited the property before and hand selected their room, all from the comfort and convenience of their own computer or mobile device.

Augmented print materials elevate the customer experience by transporting them from a flat, printed medium to an interactive and immersive experience. Brochures, printed ads or outdoor billboards can all be transformed through AR by simply scanning them. Hotel brand videos, photos, guests’ reviews or special offers can all be featured in these experiences, giving potential guests access to additional information or media content and increasing the marketing campaign’s effectiveness. All available text can also be translated to the user’s language in real time and without affecting design, fonts or layouts giving a sense of tailor made content.

For guests who favour the Hotel’s gastronomic offer and food travellers alike, being able to browse through award winning Michelin Star menus and dishes and view them at their home’s kitchen counter or dinner table can be a gentle but powerful nudge to ensure bookings.

Through AR, hoteliers can easily offer prospective guests the experience of visualizing the property, exploring individual rooms and searching for nearby attractions in an immersing and interactive manner. Giving guests the possibility to view and explore 3D models of rooms, spas or other hotel areas superimposed on a simple brochure can help build trust during the booking process and create a more reliable expectation between the ad content and real Hotel property’s features. Scan a photo of a luxury suite in a hotel brochure, for example, and it takes you there, giving you a 360-degree virtual tour or a dollhouse type model and the option to ‘choose and book’.

AR technology allows guests to explore the Hotel and its rooms in a real-life setting, and see exactly what different options, sizes, and layouts are available to them. Potential guests can also be offered the opportunity to actually enter and walk around rooms, visit the lobby or check-out the spa.  Creating an AR portal to any place on the Hotel property and placing it the user’s environment allows guests to explore these spaces in a virtual way, offering an experience that static photos or videos just can’t compete with.

AR has a considerable capacity to enhance the consumers’ pre-booking experiences, and goes some way to satisfying the appetite for planning holidays to the last detail. The chance to explore hotels in an immersive rendering of facilities – spas, pools, gyms – and ‘visit’ rooms as they would appear in different seasons is as much of a pull for corporate and wedding bookings as it is for individuals. The chance to view how a specific room or event venue will look like with a certain decoration or table layout and be able to walk around it might not get event planners to book venues without going there personally but can certainly help Hotels to stand out.

Hotel booths and stands at international fairs or conventions can also be upgraded and transformed by AR. Displaying images, videos and additional information or opening AR windows and portals to the actual Hotel and its destination can make the booth stand out from the competition and increase visitors’ interest.

Besides more subtle experiences, like displaying videos or images of the Hotel’s destination, AR can transform the whole stand. Hotel brands or groups with multiple properties located in a wide range of destinations often struggle to design a booth that represents their whole offer. By building an augmented minimalist blank stand, Hotel Chains can superimpose images, animations or even videos of different Hotel reception lobbies (for example), transporting users to different destinations and showing their offer’s range with just one stand. This, can help dramatically decrease booth and transportation costs while giving a memorable and distinctive experience. This augmented booth can also be a great way to adapt the brand’s image to different venues and locations in order to best accommodate local culture and travel preferences.

Using AR to engage potential and future guests before their stay is all about creating memorable experiences, boosting marketing and promotion campaigns’ effectiveness and building a trustworthy relationship between the Hotel, its brand and future guests. Integrating AR can be a key distinctive factor for any Hotel and soon play a major role during the booking process.

On the next article, we’ll be discussing the potential of AR during the guests’ stay and how it can be used to create experiences in and around the Hotel and increase guests’ satisfaction.

Stay tuned!