Augmented Reality for Traveling and Tourism

Augmented Reality technology has the ability to revolutionize the travellers experience in the future. Given the fact that more and more customers are booking their trips and accommodations online, companies have to adapt to meet the needs of these type of clients. According to Professor Dimitrios Buhalis, director of the e-tourism lab at Bournemouth University (UK), the more you can satisfy the needs of the information hungry clients, the better, since many of these clients want to see every aspect of their trip in advance. If you allow them to go inside the hotel and virtually experience how the pool, the view or the rooms look, it could be used as a powerful marketing tool. [1]

Since some years now, augmented reality has established itself in the travel and tourism industry. There are already several AR-smartphone-apps which are “mainstream”-ready for the public to use. The most common functionality of these apps is that you point your smartphone camera at a real world object (building, attraction, etc.) and then instantly receive information about these objects on your smart phone screen. But this is not the only feature an augmented reality app could provide. There are several use cases of Augmented Reality in the tourism industry which are used in hotels, museum, restaurants, public transportations and many more. In the following chapters we will describe some interesting and innovative functionalities of using augmented reality when traveling. [2]

Virtual Hotel Room Selection and Booking

As mentioned above, more and more bookings happen online. Augmented Reality could make it possible for the client to take virtual tours of a chosen hotel. This can make it very easy for the customer to see where he will be staying and also to show additional information about the hotel and its surroundings. [3] An example for this use case is the Hotel Continentale in Italy, whose team created a smartphone app which allows the user to virtually visit the hotel. [6]

Hotel Continental AR App
Hotel Continental AR App

Real-Time Information

Travelling often takes a person to an unfamiliar place. There are several AR apps which help you navigate through a city or country by providing additional information about the outside world. Access to this real-time information could be vital and important to a person’s overall travel experience. Use cases could be that a person gets information or reviews about locations (e.g. restaurants, hotels), to locate Wi-Fi Hotspots or to check a real-time weather forecast. For example using the app “shangoo” (

Another use case scenario for this type is real-time navigation around a city. A traveller isn’t familiar with the city he is visiting, so he needs location based information. With the help of Augmented Reality, a smartphone app can add additional elements, such as arrows and other useful information to a typical navigation map. [3]

Augmented Reality can also help with public transportation in a city. The app “Departures Switzerland” for example, helps to navigate within the public transport system in Switzerland. The use of this app is quite simple. A user just opens the app and holds the smartphone in the direction of a station he wants to go and he will see all the relevant information about departures overlaid on the real world image. The app is currently available iOS smartphones. [4] (

Departures Bern
Departures Switzerland

Language Translation

For users who are travelling to a country in which they don’t speak the language, Augmented Reality can make translations of foreign text and help them to enhance their overall travel experience. It’s not just limited to street signs, but could also be helpful to translate written text on dinner menus, train schedules or newspaper headlines. In the picture bellow you see a demo of the app “Word Lens” which provides translation for several languages. It is now incorporated into Google’s “Google Translate” app suite. [5]

Word Lens Demo
Word Lens Demo

AR in restaurants

A lot of restaurants started to include Augmented Reality into their customer experience. The Inamo Restaurant in London is one of those. It lets the customers to interact with the tabletop and select their own table theme, order items from multimedia rich menu or see a live video-feed from the kitchen. [5]

Inamo Tables
Tables at the Restaurant Inamo

Historical Information

Augmented Reality based apps do not only help a user research and navigate through a city or place, but can also offer additional information such as cultural or historical information about a place. Such information could drastically improve someone’s travel experience in a foreign town. The smartphone app “Layar” for example overlaps historical sites over the real world image. Another use case is when visiting a museum, a user can take a photo of an exhibit and bring them to life with interactive information. [3]

Berlin Historical AR
Berlin Historical AR





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *