Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts is harnessing virtual reality (VR) technology in a bid to boost its global sales.
The Hong Kong-based company has rolled out Samsung Gear VR headsets across all its global sales offices and produced 360-degree VR tours for more than a quarter of its 94 properties. This will be extended to almost half of its global portfolio by January 2016, with the full roll-out expected to be completed by the end of next year.
“Shangri-La is investing significantly in technology and the future of travel content, which is why we are embracing virtual reality on this scale,” said Steven Taylor, Shangri-La’s chief marketing officer. “VR is a revolutionary new sales tool. The technology has evolved so that it is now affordable, light and portable; virtual reality is on the cusp of becoming more mainstream.”
The new VR headsets will enable travel consultants, meeting planners and corporate clients to explore Shangri-La’s hotels, “transporting” them to places such as the rooftop of Jokhang Temple in Lhasa or the grand ballroom in Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong. Travel advisors will then be able to share the 360-degree videos with their customers via shangri-la.com/VR.
The VR headsets will be used at tradeshows, industry events and sales meetings.
“Travel experts play a critical role in their fields and the traveller’s decision-making process. This is why our first VR efforts are focused on them. Their clients depend on them to ensure holidays, business trips and meetings are enjoyable and effective. Shangri-La’s VR experiences will enhance their knowledge about our hotels and their ability to sell with confidence to their clients,” Taylor added.
Shangri-La began developing VR videos in May with Brand Karma, and previewed the films at ILTM in Shanghai in June. The company said the “positive feedback” from this trial encouraged it to accelerate video production and roll out the headsets out to its 17 sales offices.
Use of VR technology is growing in popularity in the travel industry. Earlier this year Qantas started offering VR headsets to first class passengers on certain flights and in its lounges, and Marriott is trialling in-room VR technology for guests at its hotels. Emirates recently announced the adoption of VR technology in its cabin crew training programmes, and Thomas Cook is now allowing customers to “try before they buy” with virtual tours of its destinations.