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By Phil Butler

What if every hotel owner in the world were advised to add augmented reality at the next upgrade opportunity, or else? Well, there’s no need to panic just yet. For near future reference though, here’s a primer on the state of the augmented hotel room state.

While the topics of AR and VR have been trending topics for some time now, the push forward for implementation is evident across the spectrum of hotel classes. While the trend has yet to catch on full spectrum, guest wants, the mobile revolution have prompted key brands to implement new tech. As the advantages hotels can gain by using AR technology gain traction though, we can expect to see most hotel chains latch on. Big chains like Hilton are already pioneering advancements, as per usual, but boutique hotels and even budget brands are climbing aboard as well. Whether, or not adoption is a “live or die” crucible today or not is arguable, but very soon even the smallest boutique players will have to make key decisions.

Looking at progressive brands like Netherlands-based hotel chain citizenM, we find offerings like automated check-in, room control features via smart tablet, and other AR elements already in place. Retrofitting of established hotels is moving forward similarly, and brand new hotels like the eco-friendly Oliver Green in Crete, which we reported on recently, are designing AR right into the business from the start. So, the short term reveals established players making the first moves. For the long term, experts believe that by 2060 hotels will embrace “augmented reality, artificial intelligence, morphing beds, robotics, touchscreen interface, hyper-connectivity and more,” according to The Financial Express.

Much is said about the “guest experience” and enhancing it, but hub by Premier Inn has incorporated AR in each guest room featuring a stylized map of the neighborhood. With their smartphones, guests can scan the map and then see information about points of interest nearby. This aspect would have been a sort of “Holy Grail” just a few years ago when digital travel guides were in vogue.

Despite the fast up-ramp by a good many hotels, Augmented Reality is not quite the viral phenomena experts predict, not just yet. Two billion people are pecking away at their smartphones around the world, so the obvious adaptation of mobile AR tech seems only a matter of time. As evidence, Chinese search giant Baidu is already taking advantage of mobile AR to serve AR-based ads to consumers, but also to recreate historical sites in Beijing.

Baidu is not the only Chinese company integrating AR, Alibaba and Tencent have launched AR-based smartphone games, while hospitality pioneers like Plateno Group have PAI Hotels demonstrating highly creative uses of Augmented Reality.  PAI offers a downloadable app called PAI AR PARK that allows guest to see every AR element the hotel. At the Plateno Collection 2017 fashion show, PAI Hotels CEO Lin Yuan told the audience:

PAI HOTELS will continue to strive for this goal as well as to embed AR technics into hotel environment to enrich customers' interactive experience."

So much is made of the “potential” of AR technologies, and justifiably, but the rub for hotel owners is clearly the initial cost. A part solution to offset this may be AR-based ads, which are a powerful monetization tool. Other AR monetization possibilities are available via this industry-specific report by Augment.

In this Forbes article by Steve Olenski from June, 2016 the marketing guru restates some key concepts from Darwinism, wherein organisms that do not adapt end up dying off. A partial quote from his article is gold for hoteliers reading Hotel-Online today:

“More than 80% of the Fortune 500 companies from 20 years ago are no longer on the list. Many failed to make the transition to an Internet-based business in the late 1990s.” 

As a technology journalist and analyst of 20 years now, I can in all honesty suggest that every hotel proprietor start now investigating economical and effective solution for the near future. Postponing the inevitable here will be like offering hotel rooms with radios and no TVs soon. 

About Phil Butler

Phil Butler is a publisher, editor, and analyst who's also a partner at the travel PR firm, Pamil Visions. A widely cited expert on technology startups, digital marketing and PR, and Eastern Europe, he's contributed to media such as The Epoch Times, The Huffington Post, NEO, Travel Daily News, The Prague Post, Pravda, and many others worldwide. Phil is considered one of the pioneers in digital media and social as well. 

Contact: Phil Butler / 49 151 610 10958

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