Many proclaimed that 2016 was to be year of virtual reality (VR), as it finally entered the consumer conscience and emerged as a mainstream technology. It was not until the latter part of the year that VR truly came into its own, as developers began to understand its properties and target viable applications such as gaming.
If there is one marketplace that may enable VR to achieve its full potential, however, it is the travel and tourism sector. After all, tools like Google Street View already leverage panoramic views to help travellers visualise their desired destinations, so the widespread adoption of VR simply represents a natural evolution of existing technology.
Let’s take a look at how VR is likely to impact on the travel sector and why it represents the future of the industry:
Visualisation is an important aspect of the travel sector, as vivid images and immersive videos can help to sell specific trips to customers. VR will help to revolutionise this element of the market, by actively enabling travellers to experience specific locations from across the globe before they make a confirmed booking. This means that, when travelling to any of our destinations, you could interact with three-dimensional, VR replications of these locations to help you make an informed decision.
Travel agencies will also be able to leverage this technology to enhance the service that they deliver to their customers, as they can finally move away from 2D photographs and verbal descriptions of specific destinations. Instead, they can immerse customers in a VR-representation of the locations that they would like to visit, improving the quality of interaction that they have with consumers and their sales conversion rates.
This technology can also be applied to the exploration of hotels, as establishments will eventually be expected to provide interested parties with virtual tours and walk-throughs regardless of where they are in the world.
As VR becomes increasingly commonplace in the travel sector, customers are bound to become sceptical about two dimensional images and the type of subjective wording used to describe hotels in brochures. Instead, they will rely on virtual tours to determine the size and cleanliness of viable hotels, before making a decision as to whether or not it is right for them. They will also be able to explore different room types, helping them to understand subtle nuances and which option is best for them.
As travel becomes a core VR application, we will see a rise in the number of dedicated apps available to users. This will begin an evolution that transforms the classic smartphone, transitioning it from a simple handset to a portable, VR device.
This evolution is already underway, of course, with devices such as Samsung Gear equipping smartphones with a diverse range of VR apps and capabilities. While the majority of existing apps are currently focused on aiding real-time travel research, soon we will the emergence of integrated tools that can transport users into an immersive, three-dimensional environment of their choosing.