Welcome to the first of a series of Hotel 2025 blogs, where we will be sharing insights from the Oracle Hospitality report, Hotel 2025, including perspectives from over 150 hotel operators and some 2,700 consumers on the emerging technological innovations redefining guest experiences.
Virtual reality refers to a three-dimensional, computer-generated environment that can be explored by an individual. VR may still be best known for its use in video games, but its ability to create a manipulatable, virtual world has made the technology indispensable. With many corporations already routinely using the technology, it’s hoteliers’ turn to leverage the power of VR.
A great example comes from Marriott International, which used VR as part of its “Travel Brilliantly” campaign. It allowed guests to “transport” themselves from a New York City booth to destinations such as London’s Tower 42, or picturesque Hawaiian beaches. According to hotelexecutive.com, the VR experience enveloped participants with sights, sounds, scents and even climate conditions such as heat and mist.
The campaign’s mission was to connect with and inspire travellers, especially tech-savvy millennials, who are projected to make up over 50% of the world’s hotel guests by 2020. But don’t go thinking that VR’s place in the hotel industry only goes as far as a clever marketing campaign.
From our survey of hoteliers and consumers, we gleaned some exciting insights on VR’s potential:
- 52% of interviewees believe that VR will be used in the booking process by 2025.
- 2/3 say this would enhance their experience.
- 45% of customers would visit hotels more often if they offered this service.
These results – combined with predictions that sales of VR devices will exceed 60 million by 2020 – should more than sway hoteliers to embrace VR.
Until a few years ago, virtual reality as a training tool was almost exclusive to high-end commercial, government and militarily applications. An industry training VR headset used to cost about $15,000, but lower hardware costs and greater consumer adoption have sharply dropped prices – turning the heads of hoteliers everywhere. According to Hotel 2025, 70% of operators think that VR for staff training will be mainstream in less than five years.
The advantages of VR training are many: New employees can be immersed in an incredibly realistic, yet safe working environment to practice and perfect their skills before starting their jobs. Furthermore, 42% of surveyed guests believe that VR training will make employees more engaged. And as the technology continues to evolve, VR solutions likely will enable staff to train faster, better, and cheaper than ever before.
The words “virtual reality” and “dining out” may not be paired together much now, but our survey results indicate virtual dining experiences soon will become part of our vernacular:
- 60% of surveyed guests think a VR dining experience will be adopted by 2025.
- 44% believe this will help to improve the guest experience.
- 64% think VR, as part of the dining experience, is either very appealing or somewhat appealing.
As hoteliers strive to fill guest stays with memorable moments, they’re bound to further explore VR’s entertainment capabilities. After all, it’s well established that VR has the power to create extraordinary experiences in ordinary environments. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk the plank between two skyscrapers or bungee jump off Macau Tower? Thanks to VR, fearless guests can find the daredevil within them.
According to our survey, 70% of consumers think VR entertainment will be implemented in less than five years, and almost 50% think it will improve their experience. However, the cost of purchasing VR equipment for a large number of guests remains a concern for operators.
Among all the possible VR applications for the hotel industry, meeting room implementation gained the most votes for early adoption:
- 76% believe this will be a reality within the next five years.
- 37% thought this would help improve operational efficiency.
But recurring concerns about VR surfaced with such usage as well: Can costs be justified? Will VR improve the bottom line?
Regardless of potential financial hurdles, it is exciting to consider VR’s wide-ranging impact on hotel operations. It’ll be imperative for operators to carefully select applications that most benefit customers and staff – and invest accordingly. For example, a resort would perhaps benefit from memorable, virtual reality entertainment experiences, whilst heavily contested holiday hotels might stand out from the crowd by offering VR tours during the booking process.
We hope you found this blog interesting and informative. Keep an eye out for the next Hotel 2025 blog, where we will explore the role robots will play in hospitality. If you would like to read Oracle Hospitality’s full Hotel 2025 report, you can download it here.