When it comes to choosing destinations, the travel business has changed quite a lot. Earlier the only resources to make the final decision were pictures from magazines reports and travel agencies. Then came the Internet offering more information and helping make wiser decisions.
However, to ensure a happy holiday trip the most ideal solution will be to test on site before packing. To do just that, the travel industry has progressed one step further using Virtual Reality.
Virtual reality devices, like the Oculus Rift or Gear VR are transforming several sectors of the economy, including gaming, real estate, sports and even pornography. But the industry already reaping maximum benefits of this fresh technology is the Travel Industry.
What Is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality has been a part of science fiction for some time but not anymore. This technology is fast changing the way we look at many things. Once connected to a computer or mobile device, a VR headset gives users a complete 3D experience making them feel as if they are walking around inside a virtual world.
Although initially it was only confined to gaming, this technology isn’t just for gamers. Over the last two years, numerous projects have been started exploiting this technology to suit various sectors.
Learn More: What is VR: History and Types of Virtual Reality
VR vs. AR
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have been hot topics throughout the year. Although these two technologies are parallel, they are not the same and quite easy to get confused.
Virtual reality (VR) is related to augmented reality (AR), in the sense that it creates experiences for the user that don’t exist in the physical world, but there’s an important distinction.
The important difference, in short, is that AR augments reality with digital objects, while VR replaces the real world with a virtual world and tricks your brain to believe it is real. You can find more about the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality (more VR vs. AR) in this article.
VR Tourism Comes To Rescue of Travellers
Travelling, particularly to exotic locales can be quite expensive. Taking the wrong trip will drain your money and also result in a lot of dissatisfaction. VR Tourism is all about experiencing these destinations for little or no cost at all.
The best VR travel apps now available can immersive you completely into a place—or a specific city, museum, park, resort or hotel before you take the plunge.
For this, all you need is a VR Headset, like the Google Cardboard or Gear VR and a VR supported smartphone. VR technology can greatly ease the decision making process.
Impact of VR on Tourism Businesses
VR has a vast potential in in travel and tourism marketing. With VR anyone can tour your city, island or country from anywhere. The entire travel and tourism industry is based on selling experiences or history of a destination. Traditionally, compelling imagery, stories and user experiences have been the driving forces to attract tourists.
However, these have never been able to fulfill one crucial aspect. All of these only relied on imagination of the customer instead of giving an experience. This makes VR the best thing to happen to the travel industry. Potential customers can now enjoy being in a place for a short time right from their living rooms.
Interestingly, there are also claims that VR tourism can replace traditional tourism altogether. While it may be quite a few years away from now, it doesn’t seem impossible. However, it would be more of a transformation than total replacement.
Well, anyone can climb the Mount Everest; embrace the view from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Take a virtual visit almost to any remote corner of the globe, so the trick here (on part of Travel businesses) will be to not give it away all for free.
Right now, the travel industry doesn’t have much to fear about VR hampering their income sources. Instead VR is being viewed as a marketing strategy to bring to light some of the cool places to go on a holiday. This also helps companies concentrate more on innovating means to create that first person immersion and motivate a potential customer to take the trip.
VR Tours Make Trip Planning Fun
Virtual tours are an effective way to plan activities for the trip. VR rolls out exotic locations and activities in a ‘try before buy’ format. And this helps you to shake off confusion about any tourist spots or schedules. It is such a simple solution.
You can simply replace researching lots of different websites and making notes with a simple 10-minute virtual visit to a place. Planning with VR will be much fun too. Trip planning is surely one area that will soon become a crucial part of the Tourism industry.
Would Anyone Prefer A Virtual Vacation?
There are many countries, including India, where there are lots of people who have never travelled for a holiday. Also for people who travel regularly, accommodation, entrance fees and other hidden costs add up quickly.
Looking into several other aspects (cramped airplanes for example), we may not be wrong in predicting the boom of virtual vacations. Although there are quite some challenges around this, only the future has the answer for when it will be accessible to everyone.
What are your views on VR Tourism? Would you prefer a virtual tour? What do you think are the main challenges around VR travel? Express your views in the comments section below.