Virtual reality technology typically involves the use of a VR headset, which helps to immerse a user in a digital environment. Through the use of images, sounds and other physical sensations, the user is essentially placed within a virtual world, which they can move around and, in some cases, interact with in other ways.
Although VR has a long history, it has come to the forefront of mainstream consumer technology in recent times, thanks to high-powered VR headsets produced by the likes of Samsung and Sony, as well as lower-cost options from the likes of Google. The uses include gaming, watching interactive videos, viewing 360 degree images and more.
While many virtual reality applications centre around entertainment, the technology is also being utilised by marketers in a number of interesting ways. For example, VR headsets can allow marketers to go beyond providing basic images, allowing users to actually ‘experience’ the product they are being sold. Additionally, many businesses are experimenting with VR-based user interfaces, replacing traditional computer or mobile interfaces.
VR Overview in the Travel Industry
Businesses operating within the travel industry have been especially quick to adopt virtual reality technology and for good reason. Typically, their customers are looking to purchase experiences, rather than products, and virtual reality offers an effective way for marketers to give them a taste of what they can expect.
Travel customers usually require lots of information before they book a hotel room. This may, for instance, require them to read descriptions, view images, look at videos, read customer reviews or seek opinions on social media. Through intelligent use of virtual reality, however, this process can be shortened significantly.
Many hotels and travel companies are now providing virtual reality elements on their websites or apps, allowing users to experience a digital version of a hotel room, or even take a look at one of the nearby attractions. This immersion enables those in the travel industry to provide a kind of ‘try before you buy’ option for the first time.
VR Applications in the Travel Industry – Travel agencies
One of the most common uses of VR headsets in tourism is by the travel agencies themselves. They can offer prospective clients in-store virtual travel experiences that completely transform what it means to visit a travel agency.
Instead of showing visitors brochures and computer screens, travel agents can provide their clients with a virtual experience. This approach can also be used to great effect at trade shows and events, quickly gaining interest from the general public.
Utilising VR allows travel brands to stand out from the crowd and it provides the user with an experience they won’t forget. Many travel companies have embraced VR technology and have used it to improve sales, as well as to gain brand exposure.
VR Applications in the Travel Industry – End User
The use of virtual reality technology within the travel industry is still in its relative infancy, but a growing number of companies are experimenting with VR headsets and finding good uses for them. Below, you find some of the main applications that have been observed within hospitality businesses to date.
1. Virtual Tours of Hotels
One of the best examples of virtual reality in action within the travel industry is the use of the technology for providing virtual tours of hotels and hotel rooms. The key benefit of this is that it allows potential customers to experience what the hotel looks like before they arrive, offering more transparency than standard images.
This ‘taster’ content is generally provided on the hotel website, or the website of the distributor, and will usually require a VR headset to experience. In many cases, the virtual experience primarily consists of a simple 360 degree image, which is also compatible with social media platforms and more basic VR technology, like Google Cardboard.
2. Virtual Booking Interface
Some companies have taken the use of VR a step further, offering an entire booking process and user interface that can be experienced through a virtual reality headset. Effectively, this replaces the need to use a traditional computer mouse, or touch screen, in order to make a hotel or flight booking.
When integrated with other uses for virtual reality, this can create a much more seamless booking experience, where the user is able to explore various rooms and facilities in a hotel, compare and contrast room types, check out local sights, and seek out key information or facts, all in the same place.
3. Virtual Travel Experiences
Finally, virtual reality is offering hotels, travel agents, and other businesses within the tourism industry the opportunity to provide prospective customers with a virtual travel experience. This means that users will be able to sample some of the main attractions that are likely to draw them to a location in the first place.
For instance, a hotel in Paris may be able to provide a virtual experience of what it is like at the top of the Eiffel Tower, while a hotel near a theme park may be able to provide a virtual roller-coaster experience. The primary benefit of this is the ability to sell rooms, flights and travel products based on the experiences they can enable.
- Virtual Reality Will Transform The Travel Industry – https://www.revfine.com/virtual-reality-travel-industry/
- VR Applications in the Travel Industry – Travel agencies – https://immersionvr.co.uk/about-360vr/vr-for-tourism/