s4svisuals - Fotolia

Marriott Hotels offers virtual site tours

Hotel chain has enlisted London mobility startup GoInStore to offer visitors to its website virtual facility tours

Marriott Hotels is to deploy mobile technology from GoInStore at 14 key properties across its European estate to offer potential corporate clients virtual tours of its facilities.

The partnership between Marriott’s European Convention Network (ECN) events business and the London-based startup will enable visitors to the hotel group’s website to look around its meeting and events facilities using one-way video and two-way audio streams.

The service is designed to allow corporate function organisers to explore function spaces to enhance the booking process without leaving their desk. Marriott event managers will use GoInStore’s real-time technology to provide personalised, interactive virtual tours, immersing themselves in the environment while Marriott’s team acts as their eyes and ears.

“Many of our customers plan large annual or biannual events in different cities and are unable to carry out site visits in person,” said Marriott ECN head Pauline Bronkhorst.

“Our virtual tours offer the perfect solution and planners can continue to enjoy personalised interaction combined with the benefits of state-of-the-art technology to make well-informed decisions on their venue choices.”

Bronkhorst said the technology would give Marriott’s luxury brands a competitive edge over rival chains, and increase the business’s online operating efficiency.

The partnership – which will first run for a six-month trial – marks GoInStore’s first foray outside the retail space.

The business was set up in 2014 by retail tech veterans to address poor online conversion rates, store productivity and disjointed on and offline silos within retail organisations.

Read more about IT in hotels

It uses a proprietary platform, including server infrastructure and its own artificial intelligence (AI)-driven Assignation Engine to transform how people shop online using wearables and smartphones.

The technology also allows transfer from site to site in the same session, so clients can assess multiple options from Madrid to Moscow, and Baku to Berlin.

“When booking a space for a convention, in most instances it involves the customer or their representative making a personal visit to assess suitability,” said GoInStore co-founder André Hordagoda.

“If you were trying to get the customer to commit to a convention package and host a number of events over a number of locations, the logistical challenge increases. Marriott was already thinking about creating some form of ‘virtual site inspection’ to address this very issue when we began talking. It was clear GoInStore was a great fit.”

Read more on Smartphone technology