The future of the travel and tourism industry will be shaped by a range of disruptive themes, with virtual reality (VR) being one of the themes that will have a significant impact on lodging companies.     

 VR is a technology that immerses the user in an entirely artificial world, which has the illusion of reality. The market remains heavily gaming-oriented, but VR is gaining traction in areas such as social media and live streaming. Consumer-focused VR companies are striving for a semi-mythical killer app that would make VR a mainstream hit. Meanwhile, VR headset makers are increasingly exploring growth among enterprises. 

In the past, VR was perceived as a gimmick within the travel and tourism industry, but a combination of technological advancements and macroeconomic impacts (such as Covid-19) have meant that VR is now becoming an important part of marketing strategies, the experience economy, employee training, and sustainability. The technology will continue to lose its reputation as a gimmick as younger generations that are more familiar with this technology (such as Gen Z) continue to grow in importance as a consumer segment. 

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However, not all companies are equal when it comes to their capabilities and investments in the key themes that matter most to their industry. Understanding how companies are positioned and ranked in the most important themes can be a key leading indicator of their future earnings potential and relative competitive position.      

According to GlobalData’s thematic research report, Virtual Reality in Travel and Tourism, leading adopters include: Marriott International, Hyatt Hotels, Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Whitbread and Best Western

Insights from top ranked companies     

Best Western 

Best Western Hotels & Resorts partnered with Mursion, a virtual training platform that allows front-desk employees to practice interpersonal skills, which results in improved customer service. The training programme allows these employees to provide service to a virtual guest that sounds and acts like a real customer. For example, during the encounter, the guest may ask the employee awkward questions, like asking for a discount. This means that employees will be better prepared for situations that could lead to a negative guest experience. Additionally, Fast Company named Best Western as one of the top ten most innovative companies in VR/AR. The company was recognised for its ‘Best Western Virtual Reality Experience’, which uses VR to reinvent the way guests view and shop for hotels; and its ‘I Care Every Guest Every Time’ employee training solution. 

Hilton 

Hilton developed a VR experience for its corporate employees, which allowed them to undertake duties that are usually performed by hotel workers, such as virtually cleaning rooms or servicing guests. Hilton designed this VR training experience to give corporate offices a vivid insight into the daily challenges hospitality workers face so that they can support them better and become more empathetic to their feedback. The company also uses Connect Training’s C-Live platform, which provides VR training to its staff worldwide. It helps Hilton deliver live, real-time interactive training to its employees, replacing the need to hire traditional trainers. 

Hyatt Hotels 

Hyatt has used VR and gaming to attract young people potentially looking for career opportunities in the hospitality industry, through its community-hiring programme RiseHY. To give them a sense of what it would be like working in a hotel, Hyatt worked with a vendor to build a VR app, called YouVisit, where potential employees take virtual guided tours of a hotel, see what workers do, and learn what may be required of different roles. 

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the travel and tourism industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Virtual Reality in Travel and Tourism

  • Airbnb
  • Whitbread
  • Four Seasons
  • Wyndham Hotels & Resorts
  • Mandarin Oriental
  • Huazhu Group
  • Shanghai Jin Jiang
  • Travelodge Hotels

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Thematic Scorecard ranks companies within a sector based on their overall leadership in the 10 themes that matter most to their industry, generating a leading indicator of their future earnings and relative position within key strategic areas.