IHG pilots AR, VR event-planning program

InterContinental Hotels Group has collaborated with Accenture and Qualcomm Technologies to pilot a program that uses augmented and virtual reality as part of the event-planning experience. Developed by the Accenture Extended Reality practice in collaboration with Qualcomm, the XR Event Planner places event planners, buyers and hotel sales staff in a virtual reconstruction of an event space, allowing them to remotely envision and configure the layout in real-time. 

Piloted at InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown, the proof-of-concept recreates the hotel’s Hollywood ballroom in 3D, including accurate reflections of architectural features, layout, lighting, carpet design, table settings and fabric patterns. Users can modify room layouts, toggle between table and chair configurations, stage placement, decorations and lighting—all while collaborating remotely and adding notes for colleagues or the hotel set-up crew.
 
The solution represents a step toward addressing challenges within the meetings and events industry, a $330 billion annual market in the U.S. alone, according to the companies. Currently, booking event spaces can be a slow and expensive undertaking, requiring event planners to scout geographically distant locations. The lengthy time frame to close a sale results not only in lost opportunities, but also increased booking costs for both property owners, event planners and end buyers. Feedback from focus group testing and market analysis that Accenture conducted shows that the XR Event Planner could increase hotel revenue by up to 8 percent. In addition, hoteliers estimate it could reduce sales cycle time, decrease booking costs and improve brand loyalty and brand affinity, particularly with millennials.
 
“Collaborating with Accenture and Qualcomm Technologies on the XR Event Planner pilot has demonstrated the power of augmented and virtual reality technologies in hotels,” Jeff Edwards, SVP of global hotel and owner solutions for IHG, said in a statement. “This tool equips hotels, such as InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown, to close event sales even faster and increase productivity, while simultaneously helping clients experience event spaces without having to travel, in a new, dynamic way that brings the event to life during the planning process.”
 
Designed to be used across multiple devices, including mobile phones and tablets, the pilot solution extends the traditional consumer digital journey from smartphone AR to a more immersive head-worn device, including Nreal AR glasses and HTC Vive Focus Plus VR headsets, both powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon platform.

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