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Omni Hotels & Resorts brings print ads to life via augmented reality

Omni Hotels & Resorts is upgrading its advertising through augmented reality to target tech-savvy meeting planners.

The hotel brand started rolling out its multimedia campaign in June and worked with AvreaFoster and Aurasma on the initiative. It targets meeting and events planners with a combination of print, Web banners, online video content and social media, with augmented reality playing a key role.

“We created an ad campaign a few years ago around Omni Understands, and we developed a campaign around real testimonials,” said Tom Santora, chief marketing officer of Omni Hotels & Resorts, Irving, TX.

“Fast forward a year or so, and it seems like every brand is now using the same type of ad,” he said. “So we said we need a new plan.

“With any ad, it’s really how do you break through. We took this opportunity to say, ‘We really like Omni Understands.’ We feel like that’s a powerful statement about who we are.”

How it works
To access the augmented reality technology, users must first download the Omni Live application from Google Play or Apple’s App Store.

Users will then have to open the app on their phone and scan any of the print ads that is found in magazines like Meetings & Conventions, Convene and One +.

The app will detect the ad through image recognition and automatically unveil the augmented reality technology, transforming the print ad into a whole new experience with an exclusive video that showcases customer testimonials, virtual tours and behind-the-scenes interviews with Omni chefs.

Once the video ends, users will be directed to a form to receive a special offer, $1,000 towards a welcome reception at any Omni property. According to the company, meetings and events can range from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand dollars.

A video that demonstrates how the augmented reality feature works

The “Omni Understands” campaign launched in 2010 and highlights testimonials from meeting planner customers that praise the hotel brand. The augmented reality feature builds on this campaign.

The augmented reality feature also benefits the company itself by allowing Omni to track the success of its advertising.

Omni will be able to see how many people downloaded the app and how many people watched the video.  They can also see how many people claimed the $1,000 credit as well.

“It gives us the ability to track and see if the ad was impactful and we have specific goals and metrics based on each publication,” Mr. Santora said.

Spreading the word
One of the biggest setbacks of augmented reality is that users must download an app to view the experience.

Omni is aware of this challenge and is putting in extra effort to encourage users to its app.

For example, the company will be including call-to-actions in print ads that highlight the special offer available via the app in the hopes of enticing users to download it.

Omni is also publicizing the app at trade shows, on Twitter and through direct emails to meeting planners.

In a more creative move, Omni also purchased the pedicabs for the American Society of Association Executives annual meeting in Atlanta. The pedicabs will take people to and from the convention center and hotels, and they will be wrapped in the Omni ad.

Pedicab drivers will be wearing t-shirts that tell passengers to download the Omni app to watch the pedicab come to life.

Additionally, Omni salespeople’s business cards will have augmented reality features. When an individual interacts with a salesperson, the salesperson can ask him or her to download the app and hover it over the business card to watch a video about Omni.

Engaging in mobile
Omni has been in the mobile space for quite some time.

For example, Omni launched an iPhone application in 2009 to complement its mobile site (see story).

In 2012, the company also created an app to help meeting planners and hotel staff communicate during meetings at Omni properties.

“Just from a typical mobile search perspective, we continue to see through our Google Analytics that more and more people are searching for Omni via their mobile devices,” Mr. Santora said. “Thirty-seven percent are all coming via mobile.

“So, obviously, we know our consumers are using it to search for hotels,” he said.

“When you think about the customer, whether it’s a meeting planner or a customer, they’re just expecting more, and it’s important for us in this communication method to make sure that we’re at the forefront.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York