Without a shadow of a doubt, the hospitality industry is booming in every way possible. In fact, the industry contributes $3.4 trillion to the global economy annually. Largely, this stupendous stat is the result of a lucrative market as well as relentless competitiveness. Lately, amidst this competition, a new trend has taken hospitality by storm. But before we elaborate, take a look at this picture of a hotel in Japan:
Sure, the hotel sorts of looks cute. But, does it strike you as grand? There are certainly no stunning dancing fountains in sight as you would find in Vegas or Dubai hotels. Yet, the hotel is one of the most popular in the hospitality scene today. How so, you ask? Let this picture answer you:
Yes, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Robot dinosaurs work as receptionists in this place. In 2015, Henn-na opened in Nagasaki as the first-ever hotel staffed by robots only. As you can imagine, the hotel caught the eyes of travelers everywhere.
Henn-na hotel is a pristine example of the aforementioned trend the hospitality industry is prioritizing: creating unique experiences.
For proof, a 2018 study shows that 67% of high-income travelers would rather spend money on hotels that provide entertaining experiences than ones with nicer rooms.
And since we’re talking about creating experiences here, then we must talk about Augmented Reality. There’s a reason AR experiences have infiltrated every industry there is. AR merges the real and digital worlds in the most fascinating way. Best of all, AR experiences are as versatile as clay. Do you want your AR experiences to be flashy? Educative? Actionable? Or maybe all of the previous? It’s as easy and fun for you to design them as it will be when your audience experiences them.
While you can use AR for other purposes, such as enhancing productivity among your staff, this blog post will focus on your customers. So, here are five ways AR can augment your relationship with customers throughout all user journey stages:
1- Attracting Prospects
Back in the day, choosing a hospitality provider of any kind was much simpler. A hungry soul would wander in the streets before settling at the first restaurant he/she finds. Today, things are nowhere near as simple.
Thanks to the internet, prospects have become pickier than ever. Perhaps, Google’s Head of Strategic Partnerships Development in Spain, Portugal, and Italy described them best. She called them “super curious, very demanding and impatient”.
Her words came during a gathering for hospitality experts where they discussed the rise of digital in the industry. Nowadays, prospects will use every channel provided to dig up info about places. That way, they can learn the tiniest details before investing in a trip or a meal. Of course, if they stumble upon anything they don’t fancy about a place, there’s always the next place.
With that said, key hospitality brands have used AR to showcase their properties in a novel more transparent way. For instance, last year, Marriott started a campaign which opened AR portals to eight of its resorts.
Users were able to explore everything about the experiences these resorts offered. They saw how rooms were furnished. They witnessed first-hand all the facilities awaiting them at these luxurious resorts. All in all, it was a fantastic attempt at converting those who had never experienced Marriott before.
2- Engaging Guests
After swaying guests to your hospitality brand, keeping them entertained is no easy task. However, AR has got your back. And big hospitality names know it. Specifically, Best Western has mastered the use of AR for the entertainment of guests.
In 2014, Best Western partnered with Disney to promote the movie Zapped. The hospitality icon hung posters of the movie in plenty of its properties. When scanned by guests, Zendaya herself came to life in AR to take pictures with everyone. Needless to say, kids loved the experience.
Of course, AR entertainment isn’t limited to hotels and resorts. Definitely, you could use AR in restaurants too. If there’s one thing that could alleviate the agony of awaiting food after ordering, it’s seeing your order in AR. Famous restaurants everywhere have been using this strategy to keep guests from eating their fingers while orders get prepared.
3- Informing Guests
Generally, AR is looked at as a prime tool for delivering info because of its interactive nature. That’s an edge you could use to educate your guests about anything.
For example, London Covent Garden Hub by Premier Inn has used AR to inform guests about the neighborhood. In every room, there’s a map that generates AR content when scanned. In part, this content displays important info about areas of interest.
Shifting gears, AR in delivering info is also of significant value to Airbnb owners. Moving to a rented place comes with a set of challenges for new tenants. Mainly, learning to use new appliances and devices can be complicated.
If you own an Airbnb, you could ease up that process for your tenants via AR. Simply, you could create augmented printables for each of your property’s devices. When scanned, they explain to tenants how to use them; all in AR. That would be an especially handy addition to your property if tenants don’t speak your native language.
4- Establishing Customer Loyalty
Loyalty programs are commonplace in the hospitality industry. It makes perfect sense to reward clients who keep supporting your hospitality brand. But, integrating AR into your loyalty program could change the entire game.
We’ve all seen the ‘collect’em all’ Pokemon Go craze and it’s all due to AR’s curiosity-arousing ways. Thus, there’s no reason not to apply a loyalty program inspired by the successful game in your hospitality business.
Say you own an extra spacious resort with a variety of facilities. You could easily encourage your guests to try them all to gain points in your AR-based loyalty program. Also, you could do the same if you own an F&B business. The loyalty program would be an incentive for customers to try all your different products.
5- Acquiring and Leveraging Data
Let’s face it. We live in the era of big data. If you go through all the aforementioned stages of the user journey without collecting data, then you’re missing out.
Luckily, using AR you can gather data about your customers in real-time. You’ll be able to learn more about their behavior. Which features and facilities did they like most? What frustrated them the most? What did they think of your AR experience as a whole? These are all critical questions you could answer by gathering and analyzing customer data.
What’s more, doing so would allow you to create personalized hospitality experiences. So the next time that allergic-to-garlic guest visits, you get it right.
So before we cap off this blog post, there’s a disclaimer; one more stat we should bring up.
Over 50% of travel apps are deleted one month after downloading.
Would be a shame devoting resources to integrating AR experiences into your app only for it to be deleted. Wouldn’t it? That’s why you should save your AR innovation for another platform. In that case, there’s no better platform than the Web.
For all intents and purposes, WebAR experiences come with all the perks of AR plus one extra super perk. That is, that users need but a browser to engage in WebAR content. They don’t have to download an app or deplete their phones’ storage.
When it comes to hospitality, a WebAR experience is the most convenient choice because it’s frictionless. It’s the perfect fit for customers who are looking for fresh experiences and are also being targeted by competitors.