An Argument For Augmented Reality In Travel

As marketers and as travelers, too, it comes as no surprise that mobile plays a vital role in travel bookings. According to Flurry’s 2017 State of Mobile report, we spend over five hours a day on our mobile phones, and we expect the brands we love to create a bespoke experience that matches our mobile behavior.

From research to purchase, travel consumers are exploring destinations and products on mobile. EMarketer Pro has projected that in 2018 $86 billion will be spent on mobile travel bookings. Mobile accounts for 37% of travelers’ shopping for flights and 43% for accommodations, according to PhocusWire. As we head into the busy summer travel season, an effective mobile strategy is the key to success for travel brands.

According to Expedia, 78% of travelers said informative content from destinations or travel brands can influence their decision-making process, and 46% said ads with informative content are influential. Clearly, there’s an appetite for compelling mobile advertising content. How can travel brands capitalize on the mobile vacation planner? Data, personalization and video, yes. But what about augmented reality, or AR? Still in its infancy in the travel industry, AR holds major potential for today’s leading travel brands, hoping to bring consumers an engaging, informative mobile experience. 



Imagine an AR experience where users can tap the screen of their mobile device, open a virtual door and tour a tropical hotel suite, enhancing their research process with one simple tap. With an AR ad, a ski lodge could create a postcard with an animation of skis or a fire burning in a cozy fireplace, and allow users to upload images from their own device to create a virtual family postcard. What about an AR demo that unrolls a map with icons symbolizing the destination’s top attractions, allowing the user to tap on each icon and learn more about that particular experience? AR  ad formats have the potential to transform travel marketing, and here are three reasons why:

The barrier to entry is lower than you think

The notion that AR ads are not an intuitive format for consumers is a popular misconception. In reality, AR ads are extremely user friendly and offer consumers a compelling reason to engage; a real-life test or look at how a product, or destination, will appear. Native functionality; gestures like swipe, tap and rotate are natural in a mobile environment and allow consumers to further explore in an AR environment. 

It’s an immersive mobile experience  

The standard engagement time for mobile rich media is 13.14 seconds. Retailers like Pottery Barn and The Home Depot have seen an average of 2+ minutes spent interacting with AR ads. AR is a highly engaging ad format that puts the power of creativity and imagination in the palm of the users’ hands. This enables travel and hospitality brands to bring rich and immersive content to consumers, allowing them to demo beautiful destinations, hotel suites, and amenities. 

A unique way to align with the consumer journey

For any marketer assessing advertising formats and technologies for an upcoming campaign, it’s essential to align those decisions with key touchpoints along your target audience’s journey. In travel specifically, AR aligns seamlessly with the typical consumer ride, from research and exploration to purchase. The format enables brands and their digital storytelling to make a lasting, life-like impact.

With AR, brands can truly inspire consumers. It’s an engaging experience and an ad format with big potential in the travel and hospitality industry. The emerging technology is helping brands rise to challenges of 21st-century marketing; breaking through to the modern day consumer who is over-indexed with digital ads on a daily basis. AR is more than a creative ad format, it’s transformative for the mobile research process and consumer journey.

2 comments about "An Argument For Augmented Reality In Travel".
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  1. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group, June 1, 2018 at 7:22 p.m.

    Alia:  Do you have research evidence that AR moves the ROI-needle beyond basic video forms?

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, June 1, 2018 at 10:54 p.m.


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