The rise of Virtual Reality in Travel and Tourism

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A number of VR players such as Oculus Rift, The Gear VT, Cardboard, and Jaunt VR came to the table at this years SXSW Interactive, and it was without a doubt one of the hottest topics of the event.

Virtual Reality’s most obvious purpose is enhancing entertainment engagement utilising gaming technology. But as this technology is being refined and becoming more accessible, new applications are starting to emerge – most noticeably in the world of travel and tourism.

QANTAS

Qantas have implemented VR experience in the cabins of their long haul flights with the help of Jaunt VR, which has so far been a massive success and looks to move past pilot status into a permanent feature.

This week they have announced a partnership with Samsung and Rapid VR to release a unique 3D VR experience in both cabins and lounges, driving interest to the Great Barrier Reef and Hamilton Island. 

MARRIOTT HOTELS

Last year Marriott hotels launched their very own 4D VR Travel Experience, or “The Teleporter”. The original stunt was set up out the front of New York’s famous City Hall – punters who had just tied the knot were invited to experience a short Honeymoon in Maui or London.

It’s clear from the video that the technology used here is still evolving. The overall experience is still fairly clunky, however the 4D elements such as wind, smell and water mist were a nice addition.

EMIRATES 

This year’s Emirates Airline Festival of Literature showcased a new VR experience that took festival-goers on a journey on-board an Emirates A380 and around key A380 destinations using Oculus Rift technology with inbuilt Google Street View.

More than ever consumers want not only to be a witness to new technology, but to feel like they’re part of a unique and personalised experience. The 3 examples I’ve explored are undoubtedly cool, but what are the practical opportunities for VR beyond in-your-face promotional content?

Google Street view could be taken further and used to pre-plan journeys or show you how to easy travel between to your connecting flights.

VR along with 4D components could be used to check out your hotel room before booking, or experience a ‘soft’ version of experiences such as bungee jumping before committing to the real deal.

VR could be used to bring brands to life, offering real ‘money can’t buy’ experiences like jumping up on stage at a Foo Fighters concert, or taking a trip into space to a general consumer market.

No one is claiming that this technology is going to replace the real thing anytime soon, but investing in the practical applications will see VR becoming a more serious consideration for cutting edge brands.

This technology is a serious opportunity for brands to rethink how they could develop and create real life experiences, and how to bridge the gap between digital and reality.

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