Augmented Reality (AR) technology is one of the hotel industry’s coolest, most-wanted attractions. It’s similar to virtual reality — used to bring digital enrichments to a real-world environment. Remember the Pokémon Go hysteria? Niantic Labs developed that masterpiece — and ultimately, it was the world’s first widespread, hugely popular platform for AR.
There are a lot of companies out there that provide this technology now — all in different applications that range from games and education to cultural experiences and hospitality solutions. (The latter being our prime focus!) Around the world, hotels are using AR to elevate and enhance their current and potential guests’ experience.
For example, Paris-based Augment (which also has offices in New York and Florida), offers technology that can be an amazing asset for hotels hosting conventions or events. Through Augment’s abilities, a hospitality team can show the event planners every aspect of the envisioned design scheme — in real-time. Using the actual event space as a base, you simply add features to that real-time room — like table configurations, hors d’oeuvres areas, podiums, the dance floor, visual displays like oversized photos or posters, and even mingling guests. It gives the planners a virtual rehearsal for their event so if any anything looks “off” — they can reassess before the actual decorating gets underway. Incredibly useful, right?
Hotels can also integrate Augment with their booking system, giving potential guests the opportunity to interactively explore individual rooms through an App. They can just point their tablet or smart phone at a floorplan and voila! — a real-world, three-dimensional model appears. Brochures and marketing materials can be enhanced as well, so when guests frame the hotel’s skybar photo in their smart device’s camera, they can virtually enter the space and experience it interactively. No, they may not feel the warmth of the firepit, but the flames will be flickering.
Those examples are just the beginning when it comes to practical sides of AR. But, what about the entertainment angle? Is that application feasible for hotels, as well? Oh yes. More than feasible — it’s already happening and it’s fantastic.
Imagine a London hotel bringing Prince William and Kate’s wedding to life, right in front of you. A child being able to enter their favorite Disney story at a hotel in Los Angeles. Or a Manhattan hotel offering a chance to see the 1945 version of Times Square ignite in celebration for V-day. Thanks to companies, such as New York-based Timelooper™, those types of experiences can be a wonderful “reality” that guests are definitely into. And more and more hotels are looking into providing them through partnerships and creative solutions. (Idea: Market an AR weekend package that includes a two-night stay, two Timelooper headsets, plus a tour of the city’s most historical AR-enabled attractions!)
For properties that hold their own days of yore, there are even more possibilities. They could have an AR development company create an experience in-house. What if The Plaza in NYC had the ability to give guests an immersive glimpse into its 1907 grand opening? That would be pretty extraordinary. And if they had access to historical footage from that event, it’s completely doable.
This technology is growing every single day. And with the vision behind it, opportunities to enhance properties and guest experiences are growing with it. It’s fun, it’s pure 21st century, and it’s making guests (especially the newest generation) very happy.
What do you think? Is AR technology something you would find useful for your property? Have you experienced it yet? Let us know!