Practical examples of how virtual reality in tourism is used or can be used will be presented in this article.
In 2016 we will have access for the first time to a number of powerful headsets for viewing alternate realities in immersive 3-D. According to Ratchel Metz, a senior editor at the MIT Technology Review blog, this makes 2016 one of the most important years for Virtual Reality (VR).
Oculus (owned by Facebook) just released their virtual reality head-seats, Rift, at a price of $ 599 with their first batch of products being sold out instantly. Other launches of VR headsets are awaited soon such as the HTC Vive and the PlayStation VR. Virtual experiences and games (e.g. Eagle by Ubisoft) already exist on the market and more are in development, all aimed to be experienced from homes. But how can tourism benefit from VR?
Promotion and awareness can be generated by enabling potential visitors to experience destinations and attractions from their living room. For the examples below you can use Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR. Or you can watch them in 360 degree view with the latest version of Chrome, Opera, Firefox or Internet Explorer on your computer. On mobile, use the latest version of the YouTube app for Android or iOS.
A short city tour for the participants at the the Netherlands EU Presidency 2016
The Wild Within – British Columbia
Tourism Australia recently launched 17 virtual reality videos aiming to let potential visitors to experience how it feels when they come to Australia. Below is one of the 17 VR videos produced by them.
Entertainment in hospitality is done by providing on-location VR experiences. After using VR as a guerrilla marketing tactic, Marriott introduced Samsung VR Gear at the guest disposal in some of its hotel rooms. By using VR gear, guests can immerse themselves in unique panoramas around the world called Marriott Postcards. The experiences can also be accessed from the VR room service of Marriott through the Samsung Gear app.
Enhancing attractions and destinations can be done by creating a virtual experience that adapts to an already existing physical environment. Below you can find an example from Europa Park in Germany (more information about VR and theme parks can be found here).
Creating attractions can be done by creating a physical environment that adapts to a virtual reality game or experience concept. The Void, a start-up located in Utah, is such an example. The Void is a virtual reality entertainment centre that offers an immersive game experience by holistically combining the virtual and physical dimensions for the players.
The Void is already operating in a beta stage in Lindon, Utah. Visitors pay $10 each for experiences that last about six or seven minutes. The official opening is scheduled to be in August or September. The experience is expected to cost approximately $34 for a 20-minute session. According to reviews, until now, visitors experience full immersion and they are excited to see what can be achieved once The Void further develops the concept. Bellow you can find how the beta experience looks like.
On a similar note with Void, Artanim has recently developed and showcased a technology that allows people to experience “Real Virtuality”. It allows users to physically interact and collaborate in a virtual 3D environment using motion capture technology. Just imagine how attractions such as escape rooms, theme parks and even entire destinations can be enhanced with this technology.
The future of virtual reality in tourism
With the introduction of VR headsets on the market and early promising experiments, we believe that VR can be a very good tool for creating memorable experiences in tourism. VR can be used for destination and promotion by allowing potential visitors to be immersed in the destination experience and learn more about it. VR can also be used to offer location dependent activities by creating custom made spaces or using existing spaces to create virtual reality experience concepts.
Virtual reality in tourism can be further enhanced by using our Memorable Experience Design Framework. With the help of it concepts can be developed to create unforgettable experiences that might help guests in:
- personal development and learning/improving skills and knowledge
- strengthening family/business/personal relationships
- relaxing and recovering
More examples of virtual reality in tourism:
- How to make a destination memorable with Virtual Reality
- Between Lands – Paving a way of how Virtual Reality can fit in museums
- The Virtual Reality in Tourism Blog.