Hotels.com's Vic Walia on Making Augmented Reality Campaigns Both Entertaining and Strategic
Here, Walia discusses the campaign, its objectives and how it represents the future of marketing.
Target Marketing: What about AR appealed to you for this campaign?
Vic Walia: I've been seeing AR really take off the past couple of years. I think it is some cool technology, but unfortunately the majority of things I've been seeing are, let's call them "gimmicky" in nature. ... What we wanted to do was take it to another level: Add some functionality, add some utility to it, but also only use it if it made sense for our brand, and I think it does. Our customers are experiencing our brand online as it is today—they're using our brand to book hotels, to get information on hotels, to find out where to stay and where to go when they travel to a new destination. And the AR tool that we're using to create Virtual Vacation is just an extension of how people shop for hotels today. It's a fun way to experience different cities, to find out about local information in the cities ... virtually experience a city, and then you can book a hotel, right there through Virtual Vacation.
Like I've said, we've added some functionality and utility to AR to create something more germane to what we do, which is sell hotel rooms. So, we're trying to find a way to monetize this as well.
We didn't want to do AR just for the sake of doing AR ... To be honest, this is a glimpse into the future, in my mind. Ten years down the road, picking a number out of the air, people are going to be using virtual tours to experience hotel rooms and to buy things online.
TM: So is this more than a traditional campaign, in that this will be an ongoing feature for the consumer?
VW: We had a launch date, but we never had an end date—and that's by design. We want consumers to experience the site. We have a tool there that allows them to vote for their favorite city and to vote for the next city that we would build in AR. If there's consumer interest, we would continue to build this out; it would have legs of its own.