Question for Our Hotel Marketing Expert Panel

With travellers spending increased amounts of time consuming online content, how can hotels leverage VR (virtual reality) technology to capture their attention?

Industry Expert Panel

Our Industry Expert Panel exists out of professionals within the hospitality & travel Industry. They have comprehensive and detailed knowledge, experience in practice or management and are forward-thinking. They are answering questions about the state of the industry. They share their insights on topics like revenue management, marketing, operations, technology and discuss the latest trends.

Reshan Jayamanne
Reshan JayamanneDigital Marketing & Sales Strategist, Bnb Optimized

“I have seen some hotels using VR as a method to give guests a “walk through at home” experience. I believe this is a powerful way to experience a hotel virtually before committing and seeing it in person. If you are able to capture VR content to better serve your guests (especially skeptical guests), it may be worth investing in.

However, I don’t think it will be what truly makes a decision for someone to book at your hotel, resort or private residence. Don’t get me wrong, it’s extremely powerful, but I won’t tell you to go and do it tomorrow because there are other factors that need more attention before committing a lump sum marketing budget to a VR experience that your ideal target market won’t see.”

Susanne Williams
Susanne WilliamsPerformance and Revenue Director, Journey Hospitality

“Hospitality does love technology. It is a very attractive concept and can be used superbly to showcase your different propositions. Virtual reality tours for weddings, events and conferences should be considered as standard in 2021. Qualifying leads is a costly business so a Virtual Reality tour and some well-timed questions can reduce that cost. It should be a superb sales tool.

For the more innovative, tech-focused hotels, adopting Hybrid events, VR platforms to host meetings and networking are more immersive experiences and should be firmly on your marketing agenda. As VR popularity grows, consider how you can create a competitor-busting VR strategy, with sound, vision and all the senses. Luxury resorts and safaris could showcase an experience.”

Andrew Kavanagh
Andrew KavanaghGroup Sales and Marketing Manager, FBD Hotels & Resorts

“Firstly, hotels need to understand the types of guests that stay with them. I would usually recommend putting together a series of market personas to understand, in detail, the needs and wants of those guests. Then, you can start to learn how a sophisticated (but for some people, intimidating) piece of technology could be useful to them, which in turn can benefit the hotel.

It’s a case of bringing together those guests’ needs and wants with the types of software and capabilities that VR technology might provide; the goal being to generate revenue opportunities for the hotel, either directly (such as ancillary spend) or indirectly, by providing a popular, exclusive amenity that they will want to return for time and time again.

Capturing their attention further could involve offering a VR experience at the hotel, either in-room or in a popular area of the property with high footfall. Examples could include anything from a gaming concept to shopping or even experiencing a future development at the hotel. The important thing is that the system and its concept has to complement a hotel’s own brand identity.”

Jolien Alferink
Jolien AlferinkHotel Marketing Consultant, Orange Hotel Marketing

“If we look at the type of content that travellers interact with, it’s predominantly the visuals such as videos that attract the most attention and create engagement. Travel is all about experiences and there’s no better way to sell it than ‘showing’ it. While images and videos are fully content-driven by hotels, interactive virtual reality adds an extra dimension as it offers users the chance to take control and experience it the way they want it.

We see many opportunities here, especially for the MICE business. It would be a much more efficient process to experience 5 potential wedding venues with virtual reality and then pick 1-2 to visit for a live inspection, rather than going to all 5.”

Amy Draheim
Amy DraheimOwner, ABD Creative

“Hotels are notorious for being a little behind the curve when it comes to technology, so I’d be wary of talking “VR” right now. However, hotels can leverage social media channels like TikTok and IG Lives to share virtual experiences in real-time without relying too much on technology that’s still relatively expensive and over their heads.

Start with an Instagram Live recording of sunrise or sunset at your property. Spend a little time crafting short-form video content for Instagram Reels and TikTok, that places your prospective guests into the action better than static imagery can (call it a low-tech Virtual Reality experience if you’d like), and enlist vetted influencers to share your story with followers who are longing to get back out into the world.”

Moriya Rockman
Moriya RockmanChief of Marketing, Smiling House Luxury Global

“We are using 3D tours which are especially useful in cases where clients need to decide on an expensive property, but they cannot visit it before booking.
Virtual tours are even more important in luxury vacation rentals, because unlike a hotel room that can be described with 3 pictures and an outline of the dimensions, an entire property has many more angles and spaces and dedicated private amenities.

To get the full overview of a large property, and to match it to the needs of a big group seeking a luxury home rental, this tool is very helpful in increasing the chances of a booking with confidence.”

Alessandro Inversini
Alessandro InversiniAssociate Professor of Marketing and Director of the Institute of Customer Experience Management, Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne

“Virtual Reality is a very interesting topic. However, there is – in my opinion – a misconception around it. VR can be used as an anticipation tool: in this case the anticipation should be about the destination rather than about the hotel. If the hotel is a destination, i.e., with attractions within, then the hotel can use virtual reality to showcase what it has to offer.

But for me this is the only case. In the worst case scenario, VR can be used as a substitute for an actual holiday… a sort of travelling without actually leaving your place…. but I think we are far from this -SAD- ‘reality’.”

Jacopo Focaroli
Jacopo FocaroliCEO & Founder, The Host

“Virtual Reality technology stimulates the guest senses, giving them a taste of “how it would be if only you were here”, creating a sense of “FOMO” (fear of missing out) and it’s certainly a trigger. We are all waiting to feel safe again and preparing to go out, move and travel. A virtual tour of our hotel, our open doors and our loyal staff generates an immediate sense of trust.

This not only creates value, but it also improves guest perceptions of us – i.e., it shows that we are completely transparent, there’s nothing to hide and guests know what to expect.”