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 collection.

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 said.

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.

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