Go to the beach during your lunch hour no matter how cold it is outside: Virtual Vacations and the future of travel!

Did it just get cold where you live? After yet another day in Chicago with weather in the 60s yesterday, I (consciously) knew that our good luck was going to run out. I just didn’t think it was going to be so soon…

Today marks the emergence of my winter coat from the closet, with a severe winter storm on the horizon starting in about an hour. Sigh. All good things must come to an end.

Given the recent announcement of Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels, (to create the world’s largest hotel company) I thought speaking about their current technologically-driven marketing strategy would be particularly timely.

Take a trip to the beach (virtually!) with Marriott Hotels.  In 2014, Marriott Hotels introduced the first-ever “Teleporters” in public areas throughout New York City. Using advanced virtual reality technology, Marriott developed fully-immersive booths that “travelers” could step into for a 100-second journey to a Hawaiian resort. Wearing a virtual reality headset, the experience appealed to all “senses” with synthetic scents, fans, and a rolling platform to mimic motion. The response to the experience was so overwhelmingly positive, Marriott decided to offer in-room VR headsets by request starting in Fall 2015. While consumers can purchase their own VR headsets from any big-box electronics store, Marriott’s will be more sophisticated and offer content not found anywhere else.

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Retrieved from Prodigy.Umbrella

Ahhhhhhh…..

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Retrieved from Marriott.com

Nope, sorry, you’re still here.

While Marriott understands that virtual reality technology will likely never replace actual vacations, (and quite frankly, it would be counterintuitive for a hotel company to try and promote an alternate means of travel that would eliminate the need for their services) they hope their emphasis on technology will appeal to younger travels and millennials. However, Marriott could sufficiently develop the technology enough that travelers would be able to “preview” a new property. Additionally, they hope to offer immersive experiences to destinations that most travelers will never be able to afford, such as Mt. Kilimanjaro.

So what do you think? Is this just an elaborate, creative guerilla marketing stunt for Marriott? Marketing that employs virtual reality technology, a part of the “augmented reality” marketing movement, is growing increasingly popular across a wide range of industries.

Do you think there’s any chance that this technology will “take off” as a viable way for travelers to preview a resort or “travel” to an exotic, out-of-reach location? Or do you simply see it as an inventive marketing stunt – and that alone? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Maybe I don’t have the time off to get to Hawaii right now, but I sure wouldn’t mind a brief escape to Hawaii during my office lunch break…

Go to the beach during your lunch hour no matter how cold it is outside: Virtual Vacations and the future of travel!