How Virtual Reality Will Reshape the Travel Industry

    

Imagine sitting in a plush chair in the comfort of your own home while experiencing the breathtaking views of the black sand beaches in Papenoo, Tahiti. The next minute you can relish the multicolored lakes atop Kelimutu in Indonesia. Cities more your thing? Imagine marveling at the glittering sky line of Tokyo, Japan while in your pajamas.

Virtual Reality has now granted us the ability to see this, and more, without ever leaving home. It gives us the ability to experience dream destinations across the world, without having to go yourself.

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Virtual is the New Reality

In layman’s terms, Virtual Reality is the technology used to create a simulated world in all three dimensions. VR offers a 3D, up close vantage point of the world around us. Today, there are a myriad of apps that transport users to astounding new locales thanks to immersive 360-degree videos that materialize worlds with just a press of a button. As technology improves, new virtual tours continue to spring up.

As headsets like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, along with smartphone makers Samsung and Google, continue adapting and making virtual tours more economical and ubiquitous, we will soon see entire families with the ability to go on quick VR vacations together. They’ll be able to tour the world and witness exotic destinations, gaining curiosity for far-flung places.

While VR has already brought big changes to and journalism, medicine, gaming, and more, experts believe that the largest shift could occur in tourism. Here's how VR will reshape the travel industry.

Inspired to Travel

While it's easy to see it as just a curiosity, taking virtual trips to cities like Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, or Lagos can serve to whet the appetite for more immersive, real life travel opportunities. In the past, it only took postcards from relatives or photographs from magazines to inspire people’s wanderlust. Now, we have apps like Ascape that are filled with virtual tours of stunning destinations around the globe.

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While some feel virtual travel will dampen people's travel desire, research has shown that 70% of US travelers say they are more likely to be influenced to travel because of VR experiences. In essence, watching celebrity chefs makes delicious food more tantalizing, but it will never satisfy unless it is actually consumed. Similarly, virtual tours will only stoke the desire to experience more in person.

Try Before You Buy

More than just seeing all the places you could travel, VR also allows tourists to see what they're buying before they pull the trigger. In particular, travel agencies, tour operations, vacation rentals, hotels, airlines, and other accommodations will be able to showcase their services and rooms with far more realism and emotion. In the past, travellers had to take a leap of faith that a flight would have enough leg room, or that a hotel room would be exactly as advertised. Now, potential guests can positively experience their prospective accommodation before committing - if businesses capitalize on this trend.

With VR, it's easy to see and understand exactly what is being bought. Simply press a button, transport yourself to the experience, and gauge if it's everything it needs to be. Research becomes more visceral and enjoyable when you can be virtually where you end up in reality.

Live The Extreme

Virtual Reality possesses one aspect in particular that is unique to its set up. VR can make extreme experiences much more immersive than any other technology available today. Anything from scuba diving to bungee jumping and skydiving can be experienced from a first person perspective without any risk. While it’s not quite same as the real thing, it’s still an amazing opportunity for those that prefer fun with less risk, or those physically unable to go on adventures like safaris or wingsuit gliding.

As VR technology improves, we will see more immersive experiences in more rare and incredible places around the world. We will be able to view places few humans have ever dared to dwell such as active volcanoes, the crushing depths of the sea, and the tip top of our planet before plunging fearlessly back to earth.

Virtual reality will make it possible to immersively experience moments.

 

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Virtual Reality: For Everyone, Everywhere

As Virtual Reality technology becomes more advanced and widely available, it will continue to become a staple of the travel and tourism industry. It will both showcase potential experiences and eventually be able to create brand new VR exclusive travel experiences. It will be used to help travelers get excited about traveling, sample places and events before they go, try out activities and places they’d never have considered before, and much more.

VR will revolutionize the way travelers book hotels and give them greater knowledge and control over their experiences. Take a trip and see the amazing pool area up close and walk around the hotel gym before visiting the spa and salon to take a closer look at the pampering available. Travellers will be able to make up their minds without having to guess at all about what they’re getting. Soon, virtual reality will all be as integral to travel as online ticket sales, and the travel industry will be all the better for it.

JSF Travel & Tourism School, 15 August 2017

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