Marriott Uses Virtual Reality To Connect With Travelers

Mar­riott Hotels has rolled out an immer­sive vir­tu­al trav­el expe­ri­ence, which itself is actu­al­ly trav­el­ing the coun­try, as more brands exper­i­ment with vir­tu­al real­i­ty tech­nol­o­gy in gen­er­al and with Ocu­lus Rift in par­tic­u­lar.

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Mar­riott has cre­at­ed a 4D expe­ri­ence that takes par­tic­i­pants to Hawaii and Lon­don and, the brand says, “[rede­fines] the future of trav­el.” It’s a unique offline brand expe­ri­ence that can poten­tial­ly make the hotel chain look tech savvy and excit­ing while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly dri­ving guests to a microsite where they can sub­mit ideas about how to improve the Mar­riott expe­ri­ence.

Mar­riott part­nered with video effects and cre­ative con­tent stu­dio Frame­store and expe­ri­en­tial mar­ket­ing agency Relevent to give con­sumers what it calls an immer­sive, 4D sen­so­ry expe­ri­ence based on Ocu­lus Rift tech­nol­o­gy. Ocu­lus Rift is a vir­tu­al real­i­ty head­set that allows for “immer­sive” 3D gam­ing and its par­ent com­pa­ny was acquired by Face­book for a report­ed $2 bil­lion in March.

Dur­ing Marriott’s vir­tu­al trav­el expe­ri­ence, par­tic­i­pants enter the Tele­porter, a phone booth-like struc­ture with an Ocu­lus Rift DK2 vir­tu­al real­i­ty head­set, wire­less head­phones, and 4D sen­so­ry ele­ments that allow par­tic­i­pants to feel sun, wind, sea spray, and the mov­ing ground, as well as the “smell of some­where new.”

Once con­sumers don the head­sets and head­phones, they vis­it a vir­tu­al ver­sion of a Mar­riott great room lob­by and trav­el to a beach in Maui and to the top of a sky­scraper in Lon­don. This, Mar­riott says, enables “trav­el enthu­si­asts” to “see, hear and feel” what it’s like to be in glob­al des­ti­na­tions and at “Mar­riott Hotels of the future.”

In addi­tion, the Tele­porter itself is trav­el­ing to eight U.S. cities from Sep­tem­ber to Novem­ber: New York, Boston, Wash­ing­ton D.C., Atlanta, Dal­las, San Diego, San Jose, and San Fran­cis­co.

Mar­riott encour­ages fans to fol­low along on Face­book and Twit­ter with the hash­tag #Get­Tele­port­ed.

In a press release, Mar­riott says it want­ed to cre­ate a vir­tu­al trav­el expe­ri­ence that “tru­ly feels like ‘being there.’”

Mar­riott seized on vir­tu­al real­i­ty and tele­por­ta­tion to give the next gen­er­a­tion of trav­el­ers the clear cut notion that more amaz­ing trav­el expe­ri­ences are com­ing and to encour­age them to co-cre­ate the future of trav­el with us on…” Michael Dail, vice pres­i­dent, Mar­riott Hotels Brand Mar­ket­ing, said in a pre­pared state­ment.

Marriott’s Trav­el Bril­liant­ly site asks guests to sub­mit ideas about how to improve the Mar­riott expe­ri­ence and allows users to “show love for [their] favorites” by click­ing on a but­ton that says, “That’s Bril­liant.”

Trav­el Bril­liant­ly launched in June 2013 and has yield­ed fea­tures like new mod­ern great room lob­bies, mobile check-in and check­out, a mobile app for chat­ting between guests and prop­er­ty hosts, and a healthy vend­ing machine with fresh food on demand, accord­ing to Mar­riott.

I love that it is tak­ing some­thing that is very pop­u­lar from a tech­nol­o­gy stand­point and using it in a way that is on brand,” said Jason Bur­by, pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­c­as at cre­ative agency Pos­si­ble, of Marriott’s Ocu­lus Rift expe­ri­ence. “It’s not just some­thing cool. Mar­riott is about trav­el and explo­ration – this ties per­fect­ly to it.”

How­ev­er, Bur­by said the rel­a­tive suc­cess of the cam­paign comes down to the actu­al expe­ri­ence and whether Mar­riott is able to make con­sumers feel like they are explor­ing the includ­ed des­ti­na­tions.

In addi­tion, Bur­by observes most of Marriott’s rev­enue comes from busi­ness trav­el­ers who like to lever­age tech­nol­o­gy and “inno­v­a­tive approach­es to make their trips eas­i­er and bet­ter” and these same peo­ple also take trips to Hawaii and Lon­don, “so I think the val­ue to Mar­riott is in the expo­sure and brand per­cep­tion lift as a leader.”

But Mar­riott cer­tain­ly isn’t the first brand to employ the tech­nol­o­gy.

Ear­li­er this year, UK-based gro­cery store chain Tesco used Ocu­lus Rift to allow con­sumers to trav­el through a some­what less excit­ing (although like­ly more famil­iar) des­ti­na­tion: a gro­cery store.

In addi­tion, UK-based dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­ny – and proud Eng­land Rug­by spon­sor — O2 launched Wear the Rose, a vir­tu­al real­i­ty sports expe­ri­ence that uses Ocu­lus Rift to make fans feel like they are part of the Senior Eng­land Rug­by Team.

Sun­glass­es brand Oak­ley and Warn­er Broth­ers have also report­ed­ly employed Ocu­lus Rift in their own efforts.

What do you think about Marriott’s efforts? Have you con­sid­ered incor­po­rat­ing Ocu­lus Rift or vir­tu­al real­i­ty into your cam­paigns?

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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