Expedia Plans To Use VR To Let Customers Tour Hotel Rooms Before Booking

What Happened
Popular travel booking site Expedia is testing a new VR initiative to allow customers to take a tour of the hotel rooms they are interested in before booking. Designed to be an interactive experience, users will be able to slide open a room door or step out onto the balcony to get a full 360-degree view of their prospective accommodations.

Details are scarce on when and how Expedia is planning to roll out this VR feature, but the company has long history of experimenting with virtual reality in its marketing efforts, including a campaign last year that uses a room-scale VR installation to transport sick kids to exotic locales and one launched this January that takes viewers on a mesmerizing VR train ride through rural Norway.

What Brands Need To Do
This is the latest example of the diversification of VR content as virtual reality gadgets start to percolate into the consumer market. VR’s immersive power makes it a powerful tool for travel and hospitality brands to sell prospective customers on the experience they offer. Hotel chains such as Marriott and St. Giles have been experimenting with VR and 360-degree content to attract consumer attention As mainstream adoption picks up, immersive content is emerging as a medium that brand marketers can capitalize on.

How We Can Help
Our dedicated team of VR experts is here to guide marketers through the distribution landscape. We work closely with brands to develop sustainable VR content strategies to promote branded VR and 360 video content across various apps and platforms. With our proprietary technology stack powered by a combination of best-in-class VR partners and backed by the media fire-power of IPG Mediabrands, we offer customized solutions for distributing and measuring branded VR content that truly enhance brand messaging and contribute to the campaign objectives.

If you’d like to learn more about how the Lab can help you tap into the immersive power of VR content to engage with customers, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: Mashable

Wynn Las Vegas Hotel To Upgrade Every Room With An Amazon Echo

What Happened
Amazon announced on Wednesday that it is partnering with the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel to put Amazon Echo smart speakers in its over 4,700 rooms by the summer of 2017. At launch, hotel guests will be able to talk to Echo’s Alexa voice technology to control the room’s lighting, temperature, TV, and curtains. More features are planned to be added in the future, including a Wynn Las Vegas personal assistant and music streaming.

What Brands Should Do
This is a great marketing move for both parties as it not only provides Wynn customers with a frictionless, modernized hotel room experience that makes it stands out from the peers, it also helps Amazon introduce Echo and Alexa to a wider range of consumers. Conversational smart home device is a natural fit for hospitality brands looking to update their customer experience. Brands need to start exploring these conversation-driven platforms for integrations today as more mainstream consumers will soon become reachable via these voice-based devices.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The NiroBot we built in collaboration with Ansible for Kia is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on messaging apps and other conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client and learning opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: VentureBeat

InterContinental Hotels Launches Branded Podcast To Intrigue Travelers

What Happened
InterContinental Hotels is joining a growing list of brands developing branded audio content to reach potential customers. The British multinational hospitality giant launched a three-part podcast series titled “Stories of the InterContinental Life,” with each episode diving into the stories behind an InterContinental property and exploring travel themes of fascination, worldliness, and empathy. According to InterContinental’s internal research, its guests are twice as likely to listen to podcasts than the general population.

What Brands Should Do
Branded podcasts are relatively cheap to produce and provide a good way for brands to connect with targeted, niche audiences and capture their attention. An estimated 57 million Americans are listening to podcasts regularly according to Edison Research. At a time when ad blockers and ad-free streaming services are helping millions of viewers avoid ads, brands should consider working with content creators to experiment with formats beyond traditional ads, such as branded content and native ads, to win back consumer attention.

For more information on how brands should leverage interesting branded content to earn consumer attention, check out the Ad Avoidance section of our Outlook 2016.

 


Source: Digiday

Equinox And West Elm To Open Branded Hotels As Experiential Marketing

What Happened
The newest emerging trend in experiential marketing is a seemingly audacious one – opening branded hotels to let consumers sample products and services during their stay. Luxury gym chain Equinox is set to open a fitness-focused hotel in New York City in 2018, with plans to open more if the first hotel proves successful.

Home furnishing retailer West Elm is also opening a hotel of its own to immerse guests in a room filled with their products. The company is partnering with hospitality management and development company DDK to open West Elm Hotels in a number of U.S. cities in late 2018.

What Brands Need To Do
Obviously, not every brand is equipped or suited to open their own hotels. Equinox’s venture into the hospitality business may look surprising, but considering it is a subsidiary of The Related Companies, one of the largest real estate companies in the U.S., the decision is not that out-of-left-field. And given West Elm’s positioning of its home furnishing products, it also makes sense for the Williams-Sonoma Inc.-owned brand to experiment with a branded hotel to provide customers with an immersive product sampling experience. Nonetheless, these two examples certainly push the envelope on what marketers typically consider as experiential marketing, inspiring brands to look beyond the standard branded experiences they offer and explore new ways to reach prospective customers.

 

Update: Luxury fashion brand Shinola is also set to open a branded hotel in downtown Detroit in 2018.


Source: GeoMarketing & BusinessWire

 

A Stockholm Hotel Is Using Amazon’s Alexa As In-Suite Butlers

What Happened
The Clarion Hotel Amaranten in Stockholm is the first in the world to incorporate Amazon’s voice-based, personal assistant Alexa into its suites. The hotel worked with Edge DNA to integrate hotel-specific functions into Alexa, which can help guests search for information, play music, or order a taxi. The hotel also plans to further integrate Alexa so that guests will soon be able to control the lights, lock the doors, or order room service simply by talking to Alexa.

What Brands Should Do
This is the latest example of how voice-based assistant services may transform customer experiences in hospitality. As Amazon continues to improve Alexa’s functionality and expand it to more devices to reach a bigger audience, brands that wish to stay ahead of the curve need to start working with developers to explore how incorporating conversational interfaces may help improve the customer experience.

The Lab has extensive experience with building Alexa skills and helping brands navigate the new realities that conversational interfaces are set to bring. If you’re interested in learning more, please reach out and schedule a visit to the Lab. For additional information on how brands can effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, please check out the first section of our Outlook 2016.

 


Source: Business Insider

Hawaii Tourism Taps Facial Recognition For Personalized Travel Recommendations

What Happened
The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) launched an online campaign that leverages facial recognition technology to gauge prospective travelers’ interests and offer personalized recommendations. Working with travel booking site Expedia, the HTA created a “Discover Your Aloha” microsite with video content showcasing the natural beauty and vacation activities that Hawaii has to offer. With users’ permissions, the custom-built facial recognition software tracks viewers’ reactions as the videos play, pinpointing the sights and activities toward which they respond positively. The algorithm identifies the personal preferences of each viewer and presents them with a personalized, discounted Hawaii vacation package that they can book directly via Expedia.

What Brands Should Do
This interesting campaign showcases how brands can leverage facial recognition technology to gather real-time feedback and provide customized offers accordingly in their digital campaigns. Increasingly we are seeing brand marketers incorporate the use of camera input in their campaigns. Whether it’s the kind of social media campaigns that reward selfies with special offers or an OOH campaign that uses camera input as the source for behavioral targeting, more brands should start thinking about how they can leverage the ubiquitousness of cameras to learn more about their audience.

 


Source: Expedia Blog

Union Square Hospitality Group Transforms Its Restaurant Experience With Apple Watch

What Happened
Union Square Hospitality is bringing wearable tech into the hospitality industry as it plans to equip every floor manager and sommelier with an Apple Watch when its Union Square Cafe reopens in Manhattan next month. In a partnership with startup Resy, managers will receive taps on their wrists as timely but subtle alerts whenever a VIP walks through the front door, a guest waits too long to order her or his drink, or a menu item runs out.

What Brands Should Do
This initiative serves as an interesting use case for restaurants and hospitality brands to leverage wearables to improve their customer service. The kind of discreet notifications smartwatches offer can keep managers in the loop without disrupting the customer experience. More hospitality and retail brands should consider exploring similar opportunities to modernize their on-premise customer service.

 


Source: Eater