American Express Travel is experimenting with virtual
reality (VR) to showcase the properties in its hotel collections.
Last week, American Express held an event in New York,
enabling guests to virtually visit the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills using VR
headsets. The hotel is part of American Express' Fine Hotels & Resorts
In addition to giving participants VR headsets that took
them on a six-minute trip through the hotel, diffusers set up around the space
at Samsung 837 emitted the hotel's "signature scent" and participants
were served the hotel's signature cocktail, according to Tom Stein, vice
president of American Express Travel.
"Virtual reality is a wonderful creative medium,
particularly for travel," Stein said. "This is a new, innovative way
to inspire our card members and communicate value."
The New York event was American Express Travel's foray into
VR, according to Stein, but it likely won't be the last. There was an "overwhelmingly
positive" response, he said.
In addition to using VR technology at future events,
American Express is considering other uses.
"We're planning to upload the experience onto YouTube
for travelers (viewing with Google Cardboard specs) to get a look and feel,"
Stein said. "Ultimately, we're hoping to set up VR stations across our front
line for American Express Travel and Hilton's customer-facing teams to help
them better understand the property."
Featuring a property with VR could inspire bookings, Stein
American Express has expanded Fine Hotels & Resorts and
the Hotel Collection for 2018, adding 70 and 80 new properties, respectively,
in 40 new destinations. Stein said Fine Hotels & Resorts has grown 35% in
the past five years, while the Hotel Collection has grown 75% in the last four.
"The 2018 additions reflect the desires of guests for
more intimate, boutique lodging accommodations and unique experiences. The new
hotels are very much aligned with these elements," he said.