From the travel ban due to the COVID19 outbreak, applying virtual reality in tourism opened a new universe to evolution in travel, the era of virtual experiences.
In terms of America, which countries currently suffer a significant effect from COVID19 and travel restriction. By which, virtual reality in tourism is believed to wake up the depressed industry. In fact, many travelers are afraid of the booking business future due to the risk of having quarantines after traveling.
VR tourism offered a unique experience, enabling users to experience parts of travel journeys at home via their computer or VR glass. Additionally, it delivers try-before-you-buy experiences, attracting users’ attention to thoroughly revive the industry in the post-pandemic. Let’s explore the concept of virtual reality in tourism and why it is believed a travel savior these days.
Virtual reality in tourism
In Europe, many countries have come up with an aggressive solution of borderline closing for the effort of deterring virus infection spread. Additionally, several social distancing policies have been imposing across Europe, keeping people staying at home. According to Air Transport Association (LATA), it would take 4 years for the global travel industry to recover. During the time of reality diminishment, virtual reality could be a treatment.
The concept of VR tourism
Basically, VR tourism might not be a new concept in the recent world. It has entered the initial stages of innovation for some applications being available in several markets. Regarding traveler decision-making, roundly 50% of EU citizens confessed that they leveraged VR tools as preferences in choosing their upcoming destination in traveling. On top of that, over 10% of respondents were willing to pay for VR-based tour products.
Accordingly, VR tourism might become a must-have technology for online travel agents, emerging in travel marketing activities. Germany tends to be the leader in applying VR tourism for promoting its travel attractions. By designing 360-degree videos covering every corner of the location, VR tourism kept travel alive.
So, let’s start with what is precisely virtual reality in tourism?
VR technologies enable travel software solutions to create interactive photos or videos, adding real experience to users. Beyond the limitation of fixed viewpoint with traditional videos and photos, VR tourism aimed to capture the whole space. Emerging specialist cameras rids and innovative software development authorisms to visualize the space via VR headset or event smartphone.
When it comes to VR, Computer-generated imagery (CGI) is on top of that. Commonly use broadly in the Gaming industry, CGI is currently used for video makers as 360 VR tours. In which, it needs omnidirectional cameras to capture multi scenes, which followingly stitched together in a VR tourism video. Currently, you can find 2 typical types of VR tourism videos:
- Monoscopic video: for showing in several devices like desktop or mobile
- Stereoscopic video: only used in VR headset.
Generally, the concept of VR tourism enables interaction between users and the virtual space created by VR tourism video. Accordingly, it creates another reality for users visiting without really coming to the location.
Application of virtual reality in tourism and the new standard in virtual travel experiences
As mention above, the technologies of virtual reality in tourism currently contribute to many activities, contributing to the traveler value chain.
- Virtual booking platform: allows travelers to book tours, accommodations, and tickets directly when using VR headset. The current technology might induce some limitations in executing some points of the booking process. In the next step, grant with the maturity of VR technology in tourism, users could experience a complete virtual booking interface.
- VR website 3D: could be applied to promotion and marketing purposes. 3D VR websites offer unique experiences when visitors interact vividly with virtual places hosted on the web.
- Tourism 4.0 with VR tour: coming from the idea of selling experience, tourism 4.0 would have some differences compared to doing travel business conventionally. Instead of selling tickets in a real place, VR tours can be sold as mainstream products in the market.
Virtual reality tour shaping the interface of travel and tourism industry
The potential domination of VR tourism could be expressed by the immense benefits of virtual reality in tourism coving in the travel and hospitality industry. Not only enhancing virtual travel experiences to travelers, but it also creates a new spacious market for players and new entrances.
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VR tourism for travelers
In fact, Virtual reality in travel and tourism cannot replace the authentic experience that traveler spending on tourist attraction as beaches, luxury resources, or swimming pools. However, it can simulate the space, helping you to escape from the reality. Especially in this time of travel ban due to the danger of COVID19, travelholics might not find other solutions to their desire except VR tourism.
The market currently has some software development solutions focusing on the combination of virtual reality and tourism:
- Google Earth: this application requires a VR headset when using. It would take you anywhere on Earth in your home for free of cost.
- Hydrous: hosting massive storage of 360 degrees videos about the Ocean. It was an incredible solution for anyone expecting to explore the ocean with 100% safe.
- Escape Now: a VR filmmaker brand offering storytelling about attractive destinations around the world.
On the other hand, VR tourism has an impressive application in real life, which is an extreme benefit for the elder generation. Physicians proposed using VR tools in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia with proved results. Besides the effectiveness in healthcare, VR technology also helps senior citizens a new opportunity for taking on travel journeys at home.
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VR tourism for an online travel agent (OTA)
The born of VR tourism or virtual reality tour opened a new market to online travel agents (OTA) by disrupting the way customers interact with online booking platforms. Virtual booking interface would be the mainstream where users really standing on the virtual space for booking. That extreme experience would attract more users of VR headsets and accelerate VR adoption throughout the industry.
Currently, Travel World VR is the market leader in offering distribution platforms of travel and tourism products. They promote tours, cruise lines, tourist attractions, and more via VR cinematic production videos. Their VR-based mobile app development has received an initial success of sale growth.
In expectation, VR-experiencing exhibition would be the key marketing activities of most OTA in the market. In which, virtual advisors would replace human contacts in selling tours and tickets.
VR tourism for airline brand and hotels
Potential application in many aspects of the travel and hospitality industry, VR-based tour and travel software would enable hotel and airline businesses to enhance their services, delivering impressive virtual travel experience to customers.
In terms of hotel technology sectors, VR tourism has steadily changed the way businesses promote and advertise their services. Via VR videos or 360-degree video, the hotel booking platform increased its conversion rate, boosting customer engagements. Currently, virtual hotel tours gradually receive more consideration from users. Accordingly, it totally changed the way hotel presenting their images on the internet. Similar to VR in real estate, hotels could leverage high-resolution cameras to capture the space, offering immersion experiences to potential hotel guests.
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Besides, VR tourism technology for airlines could be used in the ticket booking engine and also on-board journeys. Take Skylights as an example, its passengers have been offered in-flight VR experiences as on-board entertainment. Instead of watching conventional video or music audio, Skylights enable its passengers a reality escape by taking them into a forward-facing 360-degree virtual movie theater right on the flight. Before 2020, there were limited airline brands taking on virtual travel experiences. It predicts a significant change these days that VR entertainment onboard would become mainstream.
In conclusion, virtual reality in tourism is the current and future in the travel and hospitality industry, which famous for high competition. To survive, companies should start the process to make use of this technology in service delivery.