Le Club AccorHotels’ “Seeker” project says it’ll let your heart—and brain waves—decide what your next trip should be. But does it actually work? We tested it to find out.
Sometimes you spend months planning a dream trip, but other times the urge to jump on a plane hits before you know where you want to go next. If the latter applies to you, you could be the ideal candidate for Le Club AccorHotels’ new “Seeker” project, which aims to use your biometrics to reveal your true travel desires.
Created in partnership with creative content agency, The Mill, and the Toronto-based agency Cossette, the Seeker test—which can be taken via mobile or desktop computers—uses your biometric reactions, including brain activity, heart rate, and galvanic skin response (the change in heat and electricity of your skin), to various experiences to match you with your ideal travel destination. While biometrics are often used as a reliable source of data about your body, this is the first time they’ve been used to test for travel preferences, so take your results with a grain of salt considering this is more of a fun PR gimmick than a scientific clinical trial. It may not be perfect, but it’s more robust than any old “Where Should I Travel” quiz on the internet.
Before the Seeker launched to the public on July 2—the same day AccorHotels integrated its loyalty program with the Fairmont President’s Club, Swissôtel Circle, and Raffles Ambassador loyalty programs after acquiring the three brands in 2016—I had a chance to try out an immersive version of the program in real life.
How it works
After slipping a Muse EEG Headset around my forehead to monitor my alpha and gamma brain waves and strapping an Empatica E4 on my wrist to track my heart rate and galvanic skin response, I entered a circular room with walls made out of three large LED screens. While the digital experience available for the public isn’t quite as interactive, it tests for the same six psychological, personality, destination, and style metrics—including rustic vs. modern, introversion vs. extroversion, rural vs. urban, relaxation vs. adventure, family vs. romance, and cold vs. hot—to figure out where you should go next.
Inside the room, both monitors recorded my reactions to a series of stations, including an LED motion tracker, a faux waterfall, pillars made of various materials, and a series of video clips. The motion-trackers told me I was an introvert—something I already knew—because instead of using my arms to create reactive visualizations across all three LED screens, I simply waved my hands in front of the screen for a few seconds before moving on to the second station. However, at the “waterfall” they had set up, the way I plunged both of my arms straight in apparently revealed that I’m drawn to adventure travel more than relaxing experiences. While you won’t see me climbing Kilimanjaro anytime soon, I find sitting on the beach mind-numbing instead of relaxing, so I also found this to be an accurate assessment of my personality.
At the pillar station, the fact that I was drawn to the stone pillar over the ones made from brass and Lucite indicated that I prefer rustic environments to modern ones. As a New Yorker who is always looking for a break from the city, this made sense to me. Finally, my reactions to the video clips showed that my brain was more active and my heart rate went up when shown imagery of snowy mountain scenes but dropped when I watched clips of surfers on the beach at sunset. Again, I could have easily told you before this test that I prefer being cold instead of hot, but at least it’s nice to admit to myself that beach vacations aren’t really for me and I’d much rather go to Iceland or Scotland in the middle of summer than, say, Miami.
Where it told me to go
Using a custom algorithm, a team of researchers scored AccorHotels’ 3,400 properties in nearly 100 countries against the same metrics and then matched my results to their destinations with the most similar scores, which ended up being the United Kingdom, Beijing, and Baku. While those destinations aren’t necessarily on the top of my to-go list, they’re delightfully unexpected and why deny what the heart wants? (Or, at least what the algorithm has been programmed to think the heart wants.)
How to try it out for yourself
While you won’t be able to experience the full program as I did, Le Club AccorHotels launched an online program on July 2 that will test for the same metrics by gauging timed reactions to a series of 25 to 30 images plus biometric reactions via webcam. While the webcam aspect is opt-in only, the company says that the test won’t be recorded and is only scanning for an estimated heart rate. You can still take the test without the webcam, but the results will not be as accurate. By the end of July, kiosks featuring the same online program will be installed in various AccorHotels properties as well.
When I quickly tested the digital version available to everyone, I ended up with nearly the same exact results, even though I found it a little more difficult to make conscious decisions deciding yes or no to specific photographs. This time around it suggested Arizona instead of the United Kingdom, which admittedly are two very different destinations, but I still ended up with hotel recommendations in Beijing and Baku. Although the digital program isn’t as cool as the immersive experience, it’s a fun way to find inspiration for your next trip. And who knows? You might finally come to terms with the fact that you’re just not cut out for relaxing beach vacations, like me.