Virtual reality is a new, see-through-the-lens technology that can introduce you into a convincing virtual world on the spot. It is deeply immersive with interactive 3D content that allows for many uses and possibilities. To the online market, this sounds almost like the long-awaited savior. But, virtual reality has some history, and it hasn’t begun its journey just a year ago. Moving from one industry to the other, Virtual Reality has achieved an ever better graphics quality and hardware power, including body-tracking, smoother experience, and newer techs that add more to the overall immersion level. The travel and tourism industry is one of these domains, and it’s likely to be completely shaped by virtual reality as this technology becomes the bedrock of how travel agencies and hotels will connect with their customers. So, how much of the travel industry will change? And how will virtual reality in tourism affect our adventurous experiences?
Below we will outline some of the ways and breakthroughs VR will have on this specific – but so exciting – industry.
Virtual Reality in Travel
The travel industry has already become a marked territory for VR from several years back. When the concept of VR in association to travel was only just a theory, some startups and large companies across the world managed to pave the way for a mainstream VR by creating impressive, travel-related virtual experiences. In 2018 in Paris, a French startup introduced incoming tourists to a fascinating VR experience in which they flew over the sky of Paris in a jetpack. While completely new to many of these foreign tourists, this fascinating flying VR app should certainly have left these travel enthusiasts thinking about the headsets as a newer way to experience tourism. (1)
But, this type of VR usage is just one of the various ways to improve the industry. Think about the marketing aspect, the booking process, and visual demonstrations that travel agencies, airlines, hotels, and others use to show you what you will get out of your travel journey. With VR within the travel industry, they no longer have to issue 2D pictures or paper booklets to your end – which are poor and unsatisfying in terms of presentation. Rather, they will offer you a rich, virtual 3D environment with photo-realistic persons passing by in Venice, for example, to let you truly have a “try-before-you-buy” experience and make smarter decisions. And while you are there in VR, why not walk closer to the water canals of Venice? maybe also inspect the stores and pick up a virtually-reconstructed apple with your VR controllers? All of this is doable right now, and VR has even more for travel and tourism.
Benefits of Virtual Reality in Travel and Tourism
Photo source: Flickr Nan Palmero
The virtual experience brings with it a long list of benefits that will have a snowball effect for travel as VR continues to improve. In one way, Virtual Reality is one of the unique technologies that protect the ecosystem rather than harm it. Traditional ways of receiving visitors result in crowds who overburden your touristic destinations or endanger sensitive touristic ecosystems. As the owner of the destination, your job is to avoid this hassle by satisfying customers with an experience most closest to reality, and a VR-created environment does that with style.
Likewise, travel agents benefit from VR-created environments when the user’s satisfaction and authentic experience make the process transparent. You don’t need any testimonies or large investments on traditional media. Your marketing plans just need the immersive power of virtual reality programming.
VR in the travel industry also helps specific brands stand out from the rest. VR’s success, like any other outlet, depends on the quality and creativity of the experience. Designing the right things in VR and investing in its quality will guarantee the best customer engagement. This fact has always translated into revenue.
Lastly, virtual reality is a life-saver for people who can’t reach tourist destinations. Whether they live too far away or don’t have the finances to travel, these people can put on a headset and teleport to their favorite locations anytime they want.
VR for Hotels
How many times have you picked a hotel but the experience ended up disappointing or just different from what you imagined? This is a common issue, especially when we choose our hotels based on standard images or while we are in a hurry. Fortunately, it will not be too long before a virtual stroll through corridors and rooms of a hotel are the new normal. Your window looking out on the beach will be as romantic as you wish it to be, and there will be no more equipment malfunction or lack of cleanliness. Though the tech is not everywhere yet, these hotel tours are already being offered in major world places like New York, Paris, London, Japan, and Prague. You can jump on these opportunities if you want by loading their websites and checking their VR demos or 360-degree videos. You might forget yourself for long periods when exploring their grounds as touristic virtual reality feels as good as being there.
Booking in VR
The booking process in virtual reality is equally enjoyable to the VR experience itself. We are all familiar with filtering through the endless prices and poring over the slides on a website. After a few minutes, it gets tedious. That’s why Virtual Reality is the better option since it includes a booking interface completely based in VR. With only a headset, you can now seamlessly swipe through the rooms, take in the beautiful outside environment, and notice the prices and key facts about the place, all within an animated virtual space and engaging 3D interfaces.
VR for Travel Experiences
Distinct from virtual tours and booking experiences is the joy of trying out virtual reality travel experiences. The magic of these apps and separate demos lies in how they transform indifferent customers into travel maniacs. The secret sauce is that virtual adventures and demos are so realistic and thrilling that they nurture your passion for those types of experiences. To illustrate, an app called Everest Virtual Reality Technology is created to put the user into the action and thrill of the climbing mount, Everest. Imagine making your way up through the thick snow of the mountain. The icy winds are blowing hard at your face while you are trying to keep your legs steady on a metallic ladder leading to the other side of the mount. This level of immersion can give you shivers.
In another app, you can flatter your artistic profile by visiting a virtual reality museum. You can come as close as you can to the paintings, and touch the intriguing sculptures of your liking.
Over time, this will be the ultimate strategy of VR in travel to bring people closer to endless touristic locations.
VR in University Campus
With this lockdown of COVID 19, it has become so much more urgent to make use of Virtual Reality for accessing places that are important for people. One good example is visiting your university or school campus before the start of the year. It may sound too good to be true at first, but the 3D content and 360-degree videos are being created by many technology companies. The quality of immersion is photo-realistic and fully-detailed, allowing you to experience your future school with most of your senses and then discover the ins and outs of the buildings and different school sections.
Where Will VR in Travel Go from Here?
Despite the excitement and waves of businesses and agencies trying to adopt Virtual Reality, the technology is far from its fullest potential and highest performance. There are a lot of VR manufacturers who are working hard to push this trend even further, and as such, we will see major updates in the upcoming years that will largely benefit VR in the travel and tourism industry. In many studies conducted by Statista, it has been demonstrated that 70% of the American respondents participating in the study preferred travel as the main industry for virtual reality. (2) This shows that most users also see the potential of VR in completely transforming the travel industry very soon. Nonetheless, as good as VR can be, most users doubt that VR will ever replace real-life travel. What’s certain, though, is that our headsets will be indispensable in the future and they surely will accompany us everywhere, even in our travel escapades.