Following the lead of upscale competitors Marriott and Shangri-La, Best Western is using virtual reality as a marketing tool. Before booking a room at a Best Western, travelers will be able to get a virtual view of the property down to the smallest details.
“It’s quite an amazing experience,” CMO Dorothy Dowling told travel news site Skift. “For me, the first time I was doing it, I was looking at the nap of the carpet and it was a really shocking realization to me that I was looking at the nap of the carpet like I was in the room. That I could actually see that degree of texture and get that sense of size and scale. I think, for consumers, that’s really going to redefine the game.”
While most Luxury Hotels continue to neglect in-destination content like VR, according to L2’s latest report on the topic, Shangri-La was the first international hospitality brand to integrate VR experiences into its sales pitch. Using a Samsung Gear VR headset, visitors could visit the brand’s properties around the world. That experience is also available to hotel guests: every room at the London Shangri-La features an augmented reality-equipped iPad.
Marriott has a similar offering – its “VRoom Service,” which lets guests in New York and London order a VR experience the way they would order a Caesar salad. Using Samsung’s headset, they can follow travelers to the Andes Mountains in Chile, an ice cream shop in Rwanda, and the bustling streets of Beijing.
These VR investments seem targeted at millennials accustomed to the pervasiveness of technology. With spending power of more than $2 trillion, that is a lucrative market. However, they may not be the marketing home run that brands are hoping for. An increasing number of young travelers prefer remote destinations to popular cities; their perfect vacation might be escaping technology altogether.