Whether you’re traveling for business, pleasure or obligation (yay for in-laws), the hospitality industry is working hard to make the trip enjoyable for anyone who leaves home. Tasked with catering to a younger, more tech-savvy consumer and travelers who can just as easily book a stranger’s house as a luxury hotel, here are how brands are gearing up for a new year of hospitality.
Yes, there is such a thing as “virtual tourism.” The hospitality industry is finding new ways to help consumers plan their next trip with the help of virtual reality and 360-degree video. Expedia’s “Discover Your Aloha” campaign uses facial-recognition to determine what kind of Hawaiian vacation each consumer might like best, based on which images he/she smiles at.
Hilton’s “Destination Inspiration” campaign uses 360-degree video to provide virtual tours of rooms, resorts and a hotel’s surroundings before a call to action invites consumers to book a vacation. “The habit of ‘virtually experiencing’ a hotel has been part of the guest-booking experience for years now, only it was previously limited to scrolling through a property’s social feed or website,” Stuart Foster, Hilton Worldwide’s vice president of global marketing, told [a]listdaily: “Virtual reality technology is here to stay and we will continue leveraging this exciting capability to create new experiences for travelers from the moment they begin thinking about their trip to when they’re ready to book that dream vacation.”
Carnival Cruise Line has been “rocking the boat” lately with a number of new 360 experiences, hosted by Instagram influencer, Zach King. “The Vista Effect,” named for the new Carnival Vista ship, features interactive views of the cruise liner that show off attractions like dining, water park and even rides. Partnering with AT&T stores earlier this year, curious would-be vacationers were able to step aboard in an immersive, VR tour of Carnival Cruise ships and enter to win a cruise through a special sweepstakes.
Legacy hotel and hospitality brand, Marriott is setting the standard for guest entertainment by adding virtual reality to guest rooms, hosting concerts and partnering with sports clubs like the NFL and NBA. Designed especially for a younger demographic that wants meaningful experiences over just a bed and a shower, Marriott launched Moxy Hotels in 2014. “It’s a brand that was created strictly for the millennial traveler,” Catherine Leitner, senior director of Buzz Marketing at Marriott International told [a]listdaily. “It’s led by a young, fresh, female executive who really has her finger on the pulse of what that traveler’s looking for—from hotel and room designs to public spaces—and the price point makes it reasonable and attainable.”
Royal Caribbean recently launched its latest billion dollar cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, in the US—complete with ultra-high-speed internet for $10 per day, per device. The cruise line hosts a number of social media events on board and gives away prizes with the use of hashtags. By having internet speeds at sea that are comparable to those on land—as well as a partnership with Xbox—Royal Caribbean’s chief marketing officer, Jim Berra, told [a]listdaily that eSports could be part of the cruise line’s wave of the future.
“I do expect us to push harder into gaming,” Berra said. “We have a partnership with Madison Square Garden and they’re hosting eSports events. There are a couple of different ways to reach that market, and it’s untapped. We have the connectivity and the idea of having live internet-based gaming anywhere in the world is a cool area for us to explore.”