In the latest example of non-tech companies taking on augmented reality marketing, online travel site Travelocity has added an AR version of its Roaming Gnome mascot to its mobile app.
Available for iOS and Android, the feature, enabled by ARKit and ARCore, respectively, gives users the ability to dress up their vacation photos the famous Roaming Gnome often seen in the company's commercials.
Users can also add weather effects, like sunshine or snow, and travel-themed decorations, like a sandy beach or snowfall, to the scene. The app takes a cue from Snapchat and Instagram by letting users label the location of the shot before taking a photo or video for sharing on social media.
"At Expedia Group, we continue to experiment with mixed reality as a way to engage and inspire travelers beyond our points of sale," said Krista McDougal, general manager for Travelocity, in a statement. "The Travelocity AR feature allows our customers to have fun with the brand throughout their travel journey, and we look forward to seeing how travelers engage with the experience and share it with friends and family."
For what it's worth, Travelocity was beaten to the punch on this idea by about nine months by Matthieu Lorrain, whose app Gnome Cam offers similar functionality, though his app is only available on the Play Store and uses ARCore for surface detection.
However, Travelocity's version of the AR experience is as much a marketing strategy as it is a creative tool. The company encourages users to share their photos on Instagram with the hashtags #RoamLocal and #Sweepstakes now through Nov. 18 for a chance to win a five-night stay at Live Aqua Resorts in Cancun, Mexico, where the winner can take even more photos with the Roaming Gnome.
The Roaming Gnome is one of the more recognizable brand mascots out there. Heck, it has more than 200,000 followers on Twitter and nearly 30,000 fans on Instagram. The travel meets tech synergy of the popular mascot and augmented reality seemed inevitable. I guess that means we'll probably have an AR Geico Gecko soon.