Facebook’s AR Platform and Hotel Marketing

  ·  22nd April 2017

Last week Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stood on stage at the Facebook F8 developer conference and took us through the next stage of achieve their 10-year plan of “Allowing everybody to share whatever they want, whenever they want”.

The talk quickly descended into some complex AI technology but I want to just share with you the summary of what it means for your business and how this directly applies to the hospitality sector and your marketing strategy.

In the last couple of years, it is rich media (photos and videos) that has been at the forefront of social communication and sharing online. As a result of this Facebook are trying to put the camera at the centre of how we interact with content, not the text box. To do this, they are in the process of creating the first augmented reality (AR) development platform. By creating this platform, they are allowing developers all around the world to use their own vision and imagination to create AR apps and publish them, just as the Apple App Store did in 2008.

This is purely an opening up of what we have already seen in niche instances like Pokémon Go or Snapchat filters that overlay digital experiences on top of reality. Using clever AI image processing and depth perception techniques, it is going to be possible for developers to overlay anything they like over the camera viewfinder such as information about real life products, directions overlaying the road, personalised messages written on a coffee shop table and much more. In essence, it makes the real world the canvas for creativity and interactivity.

Still with me? Great. How does this affect your hotel or hospitality product?

The digital experiences in a hotel are largely limited by the hardware that we install in the rooms. With an open AR platform, we are now able to place any object into a space without ever physically placing it there.

This is a bit of a bizarre concept to get one’s head around but an application might be that rather than putting an HD TV on the wall, we turn the wall into a giant screen that is viewable through AR glasses. Some other applications might be as follows:

  • Your blank walls are no longer going to be just blank walls, they are going to become digital whiteboards that people will be able to draw and create art in their own way.
  • Concierges can be in every room at the same time offering a personalised service through Augmented reality. You can leave personalised notes on the pillows in your room that are viewable through AR.
  • You can add a chess set, a poker table, a pet or a window view to your hotel room without ever placing it there.

Can you think of any other cool ideas? We’d love to hear them.

How can we use this in Marketing?

 When we take a picture of a live object we are at the mercy of what is actually there – through augmented reality techniques, we can enhance and augment marketing material in real time which could make a restaurant look busy or change the lighting outside to be sunny perhaps?

There are ethical barriers to overcome but hopefully you can see the potential in its application.

How far away is it?

 In short, it’s live now. The private beta for the AR program was launched yesterday but Facebook are going to be rolling out incremental enhancements all the time.