The Promising ROI of VR in Travel and Tourism
The Promising ROI of VR in Travel and Tourism
Gaming is not the only industry being revolutionised by virtual reality. Of course, the entire Property industry is experiencing a substantial change as a result of virtual and augmented realities. But there’s another industry, which has its ties with Property, which is benefitting massively. VR in Travel and Tourism is big business.
Recent studies of consumer behaviour in virtual reality have pegged virtual tourism, and the ability to travel to different cities as the most popular VR application at present, with 56% of respondents excited about this prospect. Just behind this, 45% of people said they’d use VR for experiencing fantasy scenarios, like flying and walking on water. Both of these answers together have huge potential for the travel industry.
Another study on consumer interest levels in virtual reality found even more promising results for VR in Travel and Tourism. Greenlight VR found a 73.5% interest in ‘Travel and Adventure’, over and above any other interest (the next popular use was ‘Recorded Entertainment’ with 67.3%).
It’s worth noting, however, that these studies are specific to the UK market. A German study by Statista GmbH surprisingly found only a 12% interest in VR in travel and tourism from the US market. A YouGov study of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia markets found that 71% of respondents across 21 countries would download travel-specific VR content.
A good example of a company quick to jump on the VR bandwagon is the holiday brand TUI (formerly Thomson). TUI is actioning its full rebrand to be completed by the end of 2017, and a large part of their new high street persona will involve the use of VR and AR technologies in store. Combined with bringing VR to their brand, they are also scrapping paper brochures altogether:
“Brochures have served their purpose and now is the right time to reinvest the money that we are spending on paper and better investing it in our customers by creating mini holidays in-store through immersive technology. People have to be able to experience the holiday to make the right choice… We still see a strong demand for the personal touch, which is why we see our stores continuing. Rather than being a sales and distribution centre for brochures, the stores will become experience centres”
Thomas Cook is one travel company which has already benefitted from its use of VR in travel and tourism. As far back as 2015, the company won the ‘Most Innovation Development in Entertainment’ at the Mobile Innovations Awards for their ‘Try Before You Buy’ virtual holiday experience.
Queen of Early Adoption: Marriott
Perhaps one of the earliest adopters, and most ongoingly successful examples of VR in travel and tourism comes from Marriott Hotels.
Its first venture into VR came in 2014. In partnership with Academy Award-winning Framestore (who worked on the movie, Gravity), and experiential marketing firm, Relevant, they created The Teleporter.
This was a 4D experience using an Oculus Rift headset and a wealth of other sensory inputs, to send participants to Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach in Maui and the top of Tower 42 in London:
The Transporter was a fantastic PR stunt for the company, touring several cities in the US. It was so successful that Marriott has commissioned a second experience.
In summer 2017, Marriott rolls out its next venture. Hosted on social media, its ‘In The Moment’ series of virtual reality movies take people on hosted tours of Marriott properties.
Marriott has also launched its ‘VRoom Service’. Guests can request a Samsung Gear VR headset and headphones direct to their room at New York Marriott Marquis or London Marriott Park Lane, via the dedicated ‘VRoom Service’ extension number, and spend 24 hours exploring.
What’s more, they now also have their VR Postcards virtual reality travel content platform. These are experiences wherein the participant follows a real traveller on their journey to their destination. They become immersed in the visual details, whilst also listening to the travellers’ stories along the way. The first three VR Postcards were shot in the Andes Mountains in Chile, an ice cream shop in Rwanda and in the bustling streets of Beijing.
VR Postcards are available both for VRoom Service customers and for the general public via the Samsung Gear’s Milk service. Matt Apfel, Vice President, Strategy and Creative Content at Samsung Media Solutions Center America, said:
“VRoom Service is one of the first business applications of Samsung’s Gear VR technology. We’re tremendously excited to be collaborating with an innovative brand like Marriott on creating the future for travelers.”
People already log in to YouTube to seek out footage when researching a new destination to travel to. They also commonly use Google Street View when planning a trip. Travel companies can also now take advantage of Facebook’s introduction of 360 video on its platform to market their holidays. When you add virtual reality to a customer’s planning process, you give them a front row seat to immerse themselves in the destination of their choice.
VR in Travel and Tourism… and The Property Industry
In the same way that virtual tours allow property investors and house hunters to view properties in a more immersive environment, VR experiences of travel destinations offer a more engaging experience.
A particularly good analogy is that of the development property. Where, in the past, a buyer would rely on blueprints and sketches alone in order to visualise the finished space, virtual reality allows them to picture it as though they were there. With VR in travel and tourism, it goes without saying that the vast majority of tourists seeking a holiday somewhere they have never been cannot fully visualise the reality of a destination from two-dimensional imagery.
When you place a customer in a virtual environment, they get a true visual (and, sometimes, auditory) experience of the destination, resulting in a dramatic increase in the rate at which they will book. The same improvement has been seen within the Property industry, with more buyers prepared to purchase off-plan properties than ever before.
If you would like to learn more about the sectors within the Property industry that will benefit most from virtual and augmented reality technologies, and the ways in which this will happen, then be sure to download our whitepaper ‘How Virtual and Augmented Reality Will Revolutionise House Building and Property Marketing’.