Virtual reality is pushing its way into many industries, creating new opportunities and insight into how it could be applied to improve processes.
The latest sector to see this is tourism.
Soon travel agents will be using the technology to show customers new destinations, hotels will be advertising with tours of their properties and travelers will be having better holidays because their research is enriched and immersive.
This up and coming trend was on display at the Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas.
While there are still some challenges like price of the technology, poor quality film, awareness, Tony Corneto, the director of user experience at Virtuoso, says the demand is definitely growing in the luxury market.
Virtuoso is a luxury travel network consisting of both travel advisors and travel suppliers.
Corneto said Virtuoso is currently discussing different ways its advisors could use the technology to create a better experience for their customers.
“We could have this system in our top agencies so a client could come in not knowing where they want to go, so they try this on and are like ‘Oh, OK I’ll get that,'” he said.
“Or their bucket list trip is to take a balloon ride over the Serengeti but they think they’ll be afraid so they try the VR and go ‘Oh, I’m not afraid’ and they book it.”
When it comes to taking over travel as a whole, Corneto said that it’s unlikely to happen for a number of reasons.
“I can’t imagine that happening because you don’t have smell, the sound isn’t great and you can’t interact with it.”
As Chris Cahill, CEO of AccorHotels Luxury, who spoke to the media at Virtuoso Travel Week as part of an executive panel, said: “Technology is a fundamental enabler,” he says “…but it’s not a substitute for anything.”
As it stands, VR for Virtuoso is still in the works, says Corneto.
“After travel week we will regroup, this was just a big test to show people what we’re thinking about doing. The response has been overwhelming, asking how soon it can happen,” he says.
“The demand is there, it’s just about how we want to target it.”
While it may be a expensive investment for suppliers to get their hotel or destination captured by a 360 camera, he says the data so far shows that VR does translate to bookings.
So, where to next?
Corneto said the natural progression would be towards augmented reality.
“We’re not quite there yet but if you can imagine I can see you but I can also see and elephant over there.
“The opportunity is wide open.”
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