Marriott Hotels is betting the future of travel will be, at least in part, virtual. The hotel brand is rolling out Oculus Rift technology at select hotel locations to enable guests to virtually explore the black sand beaches of Hawaii or the city of London.
But to make the experience more immersive, Marriott is taking things one step further by adding in sensory elements such as heat, wind and mist.
The hotel chain is using the Oculus Rift headset and a phone booth-like structure equipped with the odors and sensations of an exotic locale to create a "4D" experience. In practice, that means strapping on an Oculus Rift that feeds you visions of Hawaiian beaches or downtown London from the dizzying heights of Tower 42 (the latter is shown in the video above), while the booth conjures up mist, odors and heat related to what you're seeing. For instance, if you're seeing visions of a shoreline in Hawaii, you might feel a cool, moist breeze, reports Mashable.
While Marriott claims this is the first time these technologies are being applied for a travel experience, the idea of using virtual reality for travel is nothing new, reports CNBC.
The Teleporter, as Marriott dubbed it, will be touring eight Marriott properties in New York, Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, San Diego, California, Washington D.C., San Jose and San Francisco starting this month and through November. Visitors will be able to try it for free.
“We’re really looking to get people excited about the future of travel and push it beyond the four walls of the hotel,” Michael Dail, vp of global brand marketing at Marriott Hotels, told Digiday. “This is destination sampling that is going to inspire you to take a trip to where you’d like to go, but also make you think about how new technology can create such experiences, enhancing travel beyond the physical.”
The effort is part of Marriott's "Travel Brilliantly" campaign, which launched in 2013 and seeks to engage consumers in a dialogue about how the chain can make travel "more brilliant."
“Hotels traditionally have been very formulaic or have been very cookie-cutter,” Dail told Digiday. “We are going to have hotels that are very customized, that are coming up with all these innovative solutions.”