Technology has given people the ability to interact with far-away environments from the comfort of their own lounges. In the tourism industry, Virtual Reality allows prospective vacationers research options and a ‘pre-experience’ to investigate potential holiday spots, from room tours and online destination tours, through to fully immersive holiday experiences.
Leading VR creators YouVisit Studios is providing access to the technology for the travel industry. YouVisit’s CEO, Abi Mandelbaum, explains the company’s approach using the technology: ‘It’s about thinking of the camera as an actual person rather than thinking of it just as a lens capturing what’s around you. Destinations, hotels, cruise lines and special events want to give you a taste of what you’re able to experience if you were actually there, and VR offers a way to do that better than any other platform.’
Mandelbaum goes on to say that YouVisit clients have on average seen a 13.3 per cent conversion rate from their virtual experiences. YouVisit offers a virtual experience of Özgür Beach & Camping in Turkey, an insight into a destination that photos shared on websites and social media is unable to match.
It is vacationers that have lead this charge. On YouTube there are tons of user submitted VR videos loaded that provide access to campgrounds and caravan parks. Vacationers planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park simply head to YouTube, and check out the park and accommodation options available. VR opens the locations to be shared and interacted with in a way that video has not been able to in the past.
It’s not just vacationers taking advantage of the technology. Large organisations are starting to take notice too. Thomas Cook created a ‘Try Before You Fly’ campaign which encourages travel agents to use VR as a selling tool with clients. ‘Thanks to working with Visualise, Thomas Cook was the first travel company to deliver in-store virtual reality to customers,’ Lynne Slowey, Head of Digital Content, said of the campaign. ‘We’ve been nominated for numerous innovation awards, and we’ve seen a good conversion rate for bookings made after viewing the VR content.’
Global powerhouses such as Facebook and Apple are investing largely in augmented reality to provide more immersive experiences on their own technology and platforms. Today, Facebook offers 360 photos on its platform which are taken by users on their smartphones using panorama settings. These photos give vacationers the option to show off their holidays in incredible ways, and allows accommodation businesses to highlight their own accommodations beyond a simple picture.
Virtual Reality creates incredible options for the accommodation industry to win over vacationers. From sharing your own panoramas on your Facebook page, to creating your VR videos for YouTube all the way to a fully immersive VR experience. If a picture can tell a thousand words, how many will a fully immersive Virtual Reality experience tell?