Thanks to advances in smartphone technology, augmented reality has experienced a breakthrough over the past few years. In particular, it has emerged as a useful tool for businesses and marketers, allowing them to alter the way customers perceive their surroundings. This has been particularly beneficial for those operating in the travel industry, as they are often selling experiences or physical environments, which AR can enhance. In this article, you get a closer look at the impact augmented reality is having on the travel industry.

Augmented Reality: Explained

Augmented reality, or AR, is a digital technology, which makes changes to a person’s perception of their physical surroundings, when viewed through a particular device. The technology has similarities with virtual reality, but AR does not replace the real-world environment, but augments it by overlaying digital components.

To date, perhaps the most notable example of an augmented reality app is Pokemon Go. However, the technology extends beyond the gaming world and into the world of marketing. Here, marketers will usually use AR to add graphics or useful information to an environment viewed through a compatible device.

Typically, augmented reality is experienced through a smartphone, tablet, or similar device. As a result, it is less expensive for the consumer than most virtual reality-enabled headsets or devices. In many cases, AR also works hand-in-hand with other mobile technologies, including cameras and GPS tracking.

The Importance of Augmented Reality For the Travel Industry

Over recent times, augmented reality has become increasingly popular within the travel industry. This is primarily because it enables hotels and other businesses operating in this field to enhance the physical environments they are actually trying to encourage customers to visit, including local sights and hotel rooms.

Unlike other purchases, travel tends to be heavily researched, as customers require lots of information before they arrive. In addition, this need for information does not stop when the customer arrives. Augmented reality can serve to ensure much of this information is available to them, 24/7, at times it is most relevant.

Furthermore, one of the keys to AR adoption within the travel industry has been the general change in consumer lifestyles over the past decade. Modern customers are already in the habit of using their smartphone a lot, even when they travel, so the step towards using augmented reality apps on those phones is not a big one.

Examples of Augmented Reality in the Travel Industry

The use of augmented reality technology within the travel industry is still a relatively recent development and, as a result, new uses are emerging all the time. However, some of the most effective and innovative uses of AR so far are explained in greater detail below:

1. Interactive Hotel Elements

To date, the most common use of AR within the tourism industry has been to introduce more interactive elements into hotels, improving the overall experience. Essentially, this gives hotels, resorts and other similar businesses the ability to provide customers with more information on demand.

For example, The Hub Hotel from Premier Inn, a British resort, made augmented reality compatible with the wall maps it places in hotel rooms. When viewed through a smartphone or tablet, the wall maps include extra information about some of the local places of interest, serving as a kind of tourist information tool.

Example: Augmented Reality Florence Travel Guide – Italy

2. Augmented Tourist Destinations

Away from hotel environments, some companies within the travel industry are developing augmented reality apps, which allow tourists to enhance physical locations and tourist attractions. This may allow a user to point their smartphone at a building or landmark and learn more about it, in real-time.

For example, a user may point their phone at a restaurant and instantly be provided with reviews or menus, or aim their tablet at a historic landmark and be presented with information about its history. This has the ability to greatly enhance the entire travel experience and allows tourists to take in information on the go.

Augmented Reality Quest at the Best Western Kelowna

3. Beacon Technology and Push Notifications

Another interesting use of augmented reality relates to beacons technology, which works through Bluetooth. This particular technology is useful within the travel and tourism industry, because it allows businesses and marketers to send push notifications or enable certain functions when people enter a specific location.

Within hotels, one of the best examples of this has been Starwood Hotels using beacon technology to allow customers to unlock their hotel room when they are within close proximity to the door. However, it can also be used to send maps, reviews, menus, special offers or discount vouchers to users at the point they are most relevant.

4. Augmented Reality Gamification

Finally, augmented reality has a strong link to the world of gaming and the travel industry is starting to take advantage of this too. With the use of an augmented reality app, a hotel or hospitality business can improve the customer experience by introducing an element of fun to their physical environment.

Gaming apps using augmented reality have been used to introduce treasure hunt-style elements to hotel buildings, while Best Western have used AR to allow children to see Disney characters in their premises. For adults, examples have included AR apps which allow users to redecorate rooms, and apps which place virtual celebrities in the hotel.

Augmented Reality Travel Solutions and the Metaverse

Augmented reality tourism solutions are helping to revolutionise the travel industry, but the power of AR extends far further. In fact, augmented reality is one of the key technologies helping to power the metaverse and metaverse devices. The metaverse refers to 3D metaverse virtual words, where social interactions can take place.

Check out “Metaverse Tourism: Overview, Benefits, Examples and More” if you are interested in a detailed breakdown of what the metaverse is, how it applies to the travel and tourism industry, the main ways the metaverse can assist businesses, and examples of how this technology is already being utilised to improve the customer experience.

Virtual Reality & Artificial Intelligence

Would you like to learn more about other digital technologies which can benefit your business? Have also a look at the articles “How Virtual Reality is Transforming the Travel Industry” and “How Artificial Intelligence is Changing the Travel Industry”.

More Innovating Technologies Within Travel

With technology continuously evolving, it should come as little surprise that its applications within the travel industry evolve too. In the following articles we piled up some more innovating technologies in today’s travel and tourism industry.

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