The experience economy means everything to travelers in the hospitality industry, and the competition for delivering memorable guest experiences is fierce. Hotels have evolved from mere places to rest into gateways to unforgettable journeys.
Fueling this transformation is a dedication to crafting unique moments offering each guest access to immersive, individualized experiences. Think themed rooms transporting you to different realms, surprise and delight pop-up events and collaborations with local artists to add distinctive local flavor.
What truly sets these experiences apart? The innovative technology driving them: AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality) and digital signage for hotels. Hotels are embracing these interactive tools to redefine the art of hospitality and elevate guest satisfaction.
How VR and AR Revolutionize Hotel Stays
As IoT technologies evolve rapidly within the hospitality sector, their potential for enhancing devices equipped with cutting-edge technologies is nothing short of extraordinary. Hotels are seizing this opportunity to reimagine the guest experience from the moment a reservation is made.
VR: A Prelude to Unforgettable Stays
VR delivers pre-stay experiences, transporting guests to incredible destinations through virtual showcases. For example, Hyatt Hotels allows guests to explore rooms, tour the property, and experience amenities remotely using VR.
Moreover, the rising demand for data-driven personalization is reshaping hotel services, compelling hotels to proactively address guest needs, analyze customer data for targeted marketing and recommend tailor-made in-room amenities and services. VR’s data collection capabilities drive these nuanced adjustments.
AR: Seamlessly Navigating and Engaging Guests
AR technology sits at the forefront of personalized guest interactions, facilitating stress-free wayfinding and satisfying experiences. When combined with other elements, AR helps hotels to foster impactful stays via:
- Interactive hotel rooms, where guests can learn more about artwork or the hotel's history.
- Gamification elements like in-house scavenger hunts to delight younger guests.
- Augmented hotel environments with dynamic information overlays strategically placed in areas such as hallways, lobbies and guest rooms, enriching guests' understanding of their immediate surroundings.
- Beacon technology, converting smartphones into virtual keys for easy room access.
The evolving intersection of technology and guest-centric design empowers hotels to mold the future of hospitality.
Elevating Employee Training with VR
Employers across various industries, including hospitality, increasingly use VR to train their workers. Simulation-based training places employees in virtual, real-world scenarios such as checking in guests, handling customer complaints or responding to emergencies, allowing employees to practice their skills safely and receive feedback instantly.
This type of training immerses learners in various experiences, proving more effective than conventional training. For instance, hotels use this method to simulate guest rooms for employees to practice housekeeping procedures.
Leveraging VR for hotel staff training enhances safety, efficiency, engagement and customer satisfaction, enabling employees to practice in a virtual environment and self-pace their learning. VR tools also collect and track employee progress, identify improvement areas and tailor training to specific needs, setting hotel staff up for success while lowering training costs.
For several years, Best Western has used VR to train staff, seeing a 71% decrease in customer complaints and increased customer satisfaction, making it a highly effective training solution.
How Immersive Guest Experiences Drive the Evolution of Space-as-a-Service
To cater to diverse traveler needs, hotels are embracing a comprehensive approach known as "space-as-a-service." This strategy reimagines guest spaces within the hospitality industry by integrating AR/VR, digital displays, scent marketing and curated music playlists for dynamic storytelling, enthralling brand experiences and redefined guest standards.
Digital Displays and Responsive Maps
Dynamic digital displays are reshaping the traditional concept of signage within hotels by serving as guest information centers, enlivening lobbies with digital art and offering real-time communication and personalized concierge services. Washington D.C.’s Cambria Hotel displays an immersive LED experience around the elevator bay, transforming an active but soulless space into a vast mural.
Interactive hotel maps are becoming increasingly common, allowing guests to explore local attractions, find nearby dining options and easily navigate the city — all at their fingertips. These digital innovations create visually compelling, convenient and personalized spaces for all travelers looking for an elite "home away from home" experience.
Scent Marketing and Curated Music Playlists
Beyond visual experiences, hotels leverage scent marketing to create a soothing ambiance. Research links 75% of all emotions generated every day to smell, and inviting scents improve moods by 40%. The right scent has the power to transform experiences. Just see what Disney has done to incorporate scents into its guest experiences. Many hotels craft their signature scents; some take it a step further, offering candle versions for guests to take home.
Thoughtfully curated music playlists further enhance the hotel ambiance, providing an ideal audio backdrop to complete the sensory experience. Studies show that music affects mood, memory and pain relief; creating an audio identity that harmonizes with the hotel brand will deepen emotional connections and leave a lasting positive impression. Hotels like the Hilton go the extra mile by releasing seasonal music playlists, so guests can revisit their unique experience long after their vacation has ended.
Some brands use music to create curated experiences and bring people together. Aloft makes its music an event. In 2020, Live at Aloft Hotels Homecoming Tour initiative aimed to celebrate and connect with music enthusiasts and artists, bringing music talents back to their hometowns for free live performances.
Hotels' embrace of sensory enhancements represents a paradigm shift in the hospitality industry, ushering in a new era where technology and creativity blend to reinvent guest experiences.
About the Author
Jaime Bettencourt, SVP, North America Global Services Sales at Mood Media, leads a visionary transformation in consumer behavior, activating motivations and driving positive results. With a focus on holistic on-premise experiences, Jaime forges authentic connections between businesses and customers, going beyond passive engagement. Prioritizing customers and embracing solutions, Jaime helps drive harmonious interactions while seamlessly integrating digital and physical environments. Capturing cross-channel insights, Mood refines strategies, shaping brand perceptions, and shaping the future of customer engagement. Under Jaime's and the executive team’s guidance, Mood envisions a world where every encounter leaves an indelible impression, inspiring action at every turn.