Tourism and Virtual Reality; Like Two Peas in a Pod

Virtual Reality (VR) was once a far-fetched idea of the future, which is now quickly becoming actual reality.

Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like technology advances by the minute. I’m a millennial and even in just my lifetime we’ve jumped from cassette tapes and Nano Pets to the introduction of the internet and cell phones. Today we’ve advanced to the point where technology literally rules our lives. We spend more time looking at screens than doing pretty much anything else, including sleeping.

Virtual Reality (VR) was once a far-fetched idea of the future, which is now quickly becoming actual reality. If you’ve been living under a rock and have never watched TV then let me explain what VR is.

Virtual Reality

 Virtual Reality is a 3-D artificial simulation that is generated by a computer. The user is immersed within a simulated real life environment by making them feel like they are actually experiencing the situation first hand.

The person using it wears a headset that covers their eyes which blocks out actual reality and in turn, the goggles display a simulated reality in front of them through an advanced coding language called Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML). VR is typically used for one of two situations.

  • Gaming and Entertainment
  • Training (Think, flight simulators for pilots)

Virtual Reality and Tourism

Virtual reality and tourism practically go hand-in-hand. Hotels can, and are, creating programs that allow prospects to take a virtual tour of the hotel before they book. Clients can walk around in the different room options, the common areas, and see the amenities a hotel has to offer all from a computer simulated reality. 

Tour companies have an endless list of options to create using VR. A customer can get a sneak peak of what to expect on any given tour. The potential clients can have an immersive experience of anything from flying in a helicopter, to touring a resort. One of the biggest trends currently, is the idea to recreate historical moments for people to relive virtually. 

Travel agencies can use VR to allow travelers a sneak peak to what different countries or regions are like before they actually book their vacation. As an example, take a look at this 5-minute 360-Virtual Reality video which features a guided tour around London. 

Virtual Reality Increases Sales

When I was first learning about VR, my initial thought was that people would use these experiences in place of the real experience; but that’s not the case. Instead, it is showing an increase in sales. 

Having a VR experience gives people a taste of what they could experience and they want more. It makes them more likely to book the real experience, choose a destination, or want to visit a particular site.

13% of people who experience a vacation in VR go on to book a trip or get in touch with hospitality companies.

The lifelike experience encourages consumers to experience the real deal. Quite a few businesses are already reaping the rewards of VR.

  • 16% increase in donations to Amnesty International UK’s donations after people in UK experienced conditions in war-torn Syria through VR.
  • 51% of Marriott’s customers expressing intent to travel to more hotels in the chain after the company showed VR travel stories from other locations to them.

We aren’t there yet

As amazing and futuristic as virtual reality is, we’re still a ways off from it becoming an everyday occurrence. The amount of exciting technological advances are equal to the amount of failed attempts ending in broken or failed equipment. Every year we are promised that “this is the year for VR” breakthrough but we haven’t gotten there yet. 

In addition to the 50/50 chance that it actually works continuously, technology is advancing almost too quickly. Which means most of the hardware that is used to create it is becoming outdated at an alarming rate. 

So I guess we’ll have to keep dreaming and keeping an eye on the progression of VR. Mark my words, while it seems like we are creeping in progress, as soon as we blink virtual reality will become commonplace. Virtual reality will be a keystone of the tourism industry before we know it.

Want to learn more ways to market tourism? Check out this post: 7 Ways to Market Travel Experience to Millennials

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