Industry Update
Opinion Article10 March 2020

Augmented Reality In Hotels

By James Harrison, Hospitality Technology Consultant at HotelTCS

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Augmented Reality and Virtual reality is something that has a very sci-fi feel to it. Certainly, it conjures up images of groups of people wearing headsets.

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I'm not saying that's not the case, however, in recent years, we have seen somewhat of a shift.

The glasses of 2014/15 are back, with new use cases as I discussed before. That's not what we are discussing this time. The reality of Augmented Reality and Extended Reality, in this article, is Overlays.

Disclaimer - If you are from a VR/AR/XR background, this article may not be for you. It touches lightly on one possible use case for Augmented Reality, not the myriad of other uses and functions where it can be deployed.

Corona Virus Is Virtually A Reality

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog will notice I have used the above subheading before. I felt it was only fair of me to leave this header in, as last weeks post is what inspired me to write this one.

Talking about Virtual Reality and its place in solving the indirect impacts of Coronavirus got me here, writing about Augmented Reality.

While this piece is not about that, last week got me thinking a bit deeper about other use cases for augmented reality.

Augmented Reality Overlays

Overlays is what I really want to talk about. You might not think you're familiar with an Overlay, or what it is, but it is more than likely something you've already used.

An Overlay is an idea that you can view reality, and an application augments an overlay on top.

So now you see reality in front of you, with digital projections on top of it. Very similar to the experience of wearing the Augmented Reality Glasses on the market now, but let's face it, these glasses aren't for everyone.

One app that is used a lot and does this all the time is FlightRadar24.

Opening the app you can hold your phone to the sky, seeing the sky through your phone's camera. Except now you see information next to the aircraft in the sky. This is a very simple example of augmented reality overlays.

Augmented Reality In My Hotel

So you're probably thinking, what does the augmented reality used in FlightRadar24 have to do with my Hotel? Well, right now, nothing.

But how about breaking away from the herd of elephants, and taking this new opportunity.

You see, I think augmented reality is the next big revenue generator.

Rather than trying to explain why, let me take you on a theoretical journey, of arriving at a hotel.

The New (Augmented) Reality Of Check In

It's 5pm, my taxi pulls up outside your hotel, I jump out, grab my bag and head to the lobby. Nothing revolutionary so far.

As is often the case, I'm in a foreign country, and my data roaming has been disabled on my phone. A common consideration when travelling in certain areas of the world. So, job number one as I enter the lobby, connect to the WiFi.

I've just got connected to the WiFi, and I know this has happened for 2 reasons, 1 my phone goes wild with unread emails, but mostly because I hit the landing page for the hotel. Usually full of info about things that I NEVER read.

Then I notice. There's something different on the page. Instead a sea of words, to which I pay no attention, I see a link to access Augmented Reality.

I click on it, and suddenly, I see my shoes. That's odd I think, they're my shoes, on the screen. But of course, they are, I'm holding the phone with the camera facing down!

Lifting the phone up I see reality in front of me as if I am using the camera, however, now there is additional information.

As I point it at the restaurant, the opening time appears, an excerpt from the menu to tempt me, the opening time, and a link to reserve a table.

Moving around the lobby I see the happy hour time for the bar and the details of the signature cocktail. One wouldn't hurt, right?

I find out the spa has a 24-hour weights room, and that there is an offer on massage therapy if I book now.

Then the front desk comes into view, with an option for online check-in and a digital key.

This Could Be Your Augmented Reality

I'm sure you get the idea of the little journey I have taken you on. It's not really that futuristic, but the way the content is delivered is much more immersive. This immersive style of content is the key to unlocking additional revenue.

Right now solutions like this exist. They are ready for you to take your guest engagement to the next level. No more watching looped videos, or reading long pages of content. No apps to download, just point your phone at something and receive the info. Short, sweet, simple.

So, augmented reality is ready. The question is, are you?

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