Although virtual reality is still in its infancy, it didn’t stop the technology from disrupting the tourism industry. In fact, many companies are now using the platform to deliver engaging digital content to travelers.
A Tnooz report on VR in tourism predicts the industry will spend as much as $70 billion by 2020 on the technology, driven by the emergence of virtual reality and 360-degree video tech. It is a big leap from 2016’s $6.7 billion spending.
Mobile devices, which are now the primary paired device for VR headsets, are also becoming more powerful, boasting features that make delivering virtual content more seamless. Samsung has experimented with a real edge-to-edge display on their latest handset, which is rumored will also appear on Apple’s iPhone 8. Tech resource site O2 said that the infinity display on the Galaxy S8 allows users to “see more and scroll less,” which means more space to view virtual videos and images if used with a VR headset. This new development in mobile technology can further drive adoption and maturity for virtual reality.
Nowadays there are many different ways on how VR is being leveraged in the tourism industry. Check out below how this groundbreaking technology is shifting the way tourism companies engage with travelers:
VR can help travel agents in presenting destinations, accommodation, and activities that each travel destination offers tourists. As an example, the virtual reality travel app Matoke Tours invested $30,000 to develop their ‘Virtual Gorilla’ application. Consumers are asked to install the app and order a cardboard viewer to virtually track gorillas in Uganda, which Matoke Tours owner Wim Kok said enables them to “convey the intensity and emotion of the travel experience before the journey has even started.”
Accommodation options will also be able to leverage VR by providing tourist with a 360-degree view of the hotel rooms, amenities, and the whole facility. This marketing approach is now being leveraged by top hoteliers across the world. Best Western Hotels and Resorts use VR tours so that potential guests can view more than 2000 of their hotels across the world. A representative of the hotel said that they worked with Google Street View to develop the VR content by gathering over 1.7 million photos of their North American properties.
Similar to hotels, airline companies have also invested in virtual reality for marketing purposes and provide customers with a digital experience of their flight. Lufthansa made VR and 360-degree videos in 2015 that they use for B2C and B2B sales. However, the airline company also said they leverage the same technology for staff training and technical departments. Lufthansa also made headlines last year when they organized an inflight conference called ‘FlyingLab’ to discuss VR to guests who were onboard their maiden flight from Frankfurt to San Jose.
Virtual reality will certainly help promote tourism in many countries, particularly in the Middle East that is facing difficult times in terms of the amount of tourists the region is attracting. EuroNews covered the tourism industry in the Middle East and explained that the decline is driven by political turmoil and recent terrorism. This means that the attractions in countries like Iran are mostly unknown to many travelers because the mainstream media coverage is clouding their views on the region.
However, virtual reality makes it possible for globetrotters to see more of Iran even without leaving their homes. PersiaPort pioneered in Iran has many 360-degree virtual tours and immersive videos as well as VR tourism information. Now, people can get a closer look of Iran’s finest attractions from the world heritage sites to the lesser-known places around the country via a VR headset that can work with Google Cardboard 1.0 and 2.0 specifications.
Although the technology is still very much in its early stages, virtual reality is showing a glimpse of its potential to transform the tourism industry.
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