Monday, October 23, 2006

Hotel Chain Explores Virtual Market Research

Starwood Hotels which includes chains such as the Westin, Sheraton, W Hotels, St. name a few, has gone virtual. The ALoft Hotel (a vision of W Hotels) is a new hip hotel that will be built for the IT savvy and open in 2008. The rooms will be designed in a loft-like setting and feature well designed work-spaces, over sized showers, flat panel TVs, cordless phones, plug&play access for mobility devices, and hotel-wide wireless access...are just a few of the amenities.

ALoft Hotel opened their virtual test market hotel in SecondLife. (Note: SecondLife is a 3D online digital world that is imagined, created & owned by its residents. Last posting showed there were 1,097,243 residents, 474,480 US$ spent in the last 24 hours and there were 452,861 residents logged in last 60 days.)

This has taken market research to a new level. Online SecondLife'ers' will be able to explore the new hotel before it has been built. They are encouraged to submit comments and suggestions to the developers. They are able to explore most of the hotel. No one can book rooms through SecondLife as no one sleeps in the virtual world.

ALoft Hotel (virtual) has been built and will continue to evolve online, by a 3D company using the actual blueprints and specs that will be used for the real-world hotel. ALoft Hotel has published a weblog where you can follow along with the development from virtual to real-world hotel. Read more about the virtual-to-real world hotel concept at

Thoughts: Is this the direction of our future schools? Will teachers be waking up in the morning...shuffle to their computer with coffee in hand and housecoat still on...turn on their computer and greet their virtual classroom through their virtual self? Some universities already have campuses in SecondLife. Check out the price of real estate in's not cheap (although there is educational pricing). Maybe one should jump into the real estate market now...remember location, location, location.


Colin Maxwell said...

I don't know about the idea of a virtual school. I've recently been using various online tools for teaching classes, including Acrobat Connect, Message Boards, Chatrooms, and even Habbo Hotel. My students initially thought it was great, but the reality didn't live up to expectations and most said they preferred real classrooms. I prefer the real world too.

BF said...

Colin it is amazing how quickly a virtual world (such as SecondLife) has grabbed the imagination of everyone - including media and business. It will be interesting to see how it impacts education in the next year or two.