Owing to the ongoing pandemic, travel has become a distant dream for most of us. And now with the destructive second wave creating havoc across the country, travel seems like an unattainable objective. With about 90 percent of the world under a travel restriction, tourism industry needs to come up with innovative way to engage with customers to keep their boat afloat. Hence, a lot of new trends are cropping up, and one such trend is virtual reality (VR) travel.
Although virtual reality was present in the travel industry, it was never given the due consideration. VR was in its nascent stage and not integrated into different functions of the industry. Now, since the pandemic has made its adoption inevitable, the travel industry is left with no choice but to comply.
What is virtual reality in travel?
Virtual Reality (VR) refers to immersive images and videos which give the viewer an all-dimensional view of a scene or a place. In the travel industry, virtual reality can be used to capture tourist destinations in a unique and engaging way. The industry players can captivate the audience by highlighting the most exciting places and activities in 3 dimensions.
How VR can be utilized to boost the travel industry:
When people think of VR, they think of computer-generated imagery. However, the travel industry uses different form of VR. They capture a location with specialist equipment. The footage is then taken back to the studio where it is produced into VR content using specialist software. This form of VR focuses on the real world rather than computer generated imagery, which makes it an apt use-case for the travel industry as they must show and give customers the real-life feel of a location rather than a mock-up simulation.
Following are the areas of travel industry where the use of VR can enhance it:
VR tourism videos – A VR tourism video works much like a normal video. They can be viewed on social media or websites, but unlike a regular video, the user is able to explore the entire scene while the video is playing. VR tourism videos are captured using specialist cameras known as omnidirectional cameras. These cameras film every angle of the destination at once. After filming, the footage is taken back to the studio where it is stitched together in-order to produce a VR tourism video.
VR tourism photography – VR tourism photography involves the production of 360 images of travel destinations. These images are generally designed to be viewed on regular devices such as mobiles and desktops. Virtual tourism photography works much like a VR tourism video but with still images.
VR in tourism marketing – The most common usage of VR in the travel industry is for marketing. Being able to present a tourist destination in an immersive way enables users to experience the feeling of “Being There”, which is a very critical marketing tool. While regular images and videos can work well for showing what a destination has to offer, they don’t often elicit an emotional response.
Now, let’s look at how do travelers benefit from VR?
Experience outdoors during lockdown – With the help of VR, almost any place can be visited without leaving the house. This technology gives users the look and feel of being actually present at the location.
Try before you buy – In some cases such as booking of hotels, VR helps travelers to make informed decision by allowing them to get a 3-dimensional look and feel of a hotel and its rooms. A traveler can virtually explore a room before actually booking it.
Get to off-limit areas – There is a huge number of places, endangered or protected by law, where access to the general public is prohibited. However, virtual tourists can bypass these restrictions. An additional bonus is that VR tourists can examine everything closely or even interact with the environment and touch the genuine artifacts.
In conclusion, virtual reality is inclusive; it allows people to visit places of their dreams regardless of any physical limitations such as budget, health issues, and travel or time restrictions. Having said this, we can never be 100 percent certain that virtual reality satisfies and gives the same gratification that physical travel does. For that we will have to wait and see how VR evolves itself to meet the greater needs of the travel industry.