Written by: Cristina García
With the advent of new technologies, users have been changing the way they live, the way they consume. And this is not something that will stabilize in the long term. And this is because new technologies are a train aimlessly and with more and more wagons that new generations are willing to get on board.
For this reason, all industries have their sights set on this sector, mainly the tourism industry. One that has always been benefited by the technology to minimize time and costs thus promoting greater consumption.
The Internet, for example, has opened the doors to us, making easier for users to get travel information. It is becoming easier to book online transport and accommodation. And it is possible to know the destination without having to be there. Now the new technologies offer us a new escape that we must explore: virtual reality in tourism or virtual tourism.
To remain competitive in the long term, attract a wider audience and meet the demands and expectations of new generations of tourists, travel companies have to integrate new technologies, improve their interactive content and implement it in their marketing strategies.
Basically, we could say that with virtual reality we can present information about our tourism products and services in a different, much more striking way. Because this new system has a positive influence on two of the most important processes within the traveler's journey cycle.
By using virtual reality (VR) in marketing strategies, you can have a great influence on the process of finding information from potential or repeat tourists. For example, VR can offer the tourist access to destination information in a much more accurate and reliable way than when compared to the traditional promotional material.
Thus, virtual reality can offer users greater media wealth, interactivity and a sense of virtual presence which, in addition, improves learning and consumer respect over the destination.
On the other hand, we are faced with the fact that the purchase or reservation process is mainly rational. That is, in this complex process the consumer considers not only the choice of destination, but also the price and the activities he could experience there. Hence, quality information is so important.
For example, with 360º visits, the tourist could at least explore and live a specific experience (destination, hotel, etc.) to assess whether it will be satisfactory or not, in order to make the reservation. In this case, emotions are also very important to influence the decision-making process of tourists.
VR is able to activate the emotions by stimulating the users' senses. Because with virtual reality users are able to interact within the experience. This creates a great opportunity for the entire travel industry, especially for tourist destinations.
Virtual reality in the tourism sector started with Google Maps and 360º visits. Quite humbly, it is true. And it might not even be what we could consider as virtual tourism, but keep in mind, that virtual tourism is still a controversial topic today.
Can we really consider tourism to those experiences that don’t move us from our sofa? Perhaps the most purist marketers consider that tourism and virtual reality are concepts that will never get together. But what do the new generations of tourists think? The future is personalized tourism experiences, and these can be experienced anytime, anywhere.
In fact, virtual reality is a technology that has its origin in the video game industry - entertainment. And as we know, this is a multimillion-dollar industry that is able to increase its profits every year because of its versatility and ease of consumption.
Playstation, one of the pioneers in virtual reality for domestic consumption, already has games that allow its users to live experiences with specialized glasses. But this company is not the only one, as more and more tourist companies are opting for virtual reality glasses like Oculus Rift. For example, Destination British Columbia is the first destination marketing organization in North America that has used virtual reality to promote the destination with The Wild Within VR Experience.
And of course, Marriott cannot be left behind. Where there is a chance to explore new marketing techniques, this prestigious hotel chain is at the forefront. And so, they created a campaign to present their Teleporter, which not only transported the user to a completely different environment, but also he was able to feel it. And thus open the debate on the importance of virtual reality in the sector.
In addition, to date, museums are integrating this possibility with virtual tours that allow users to walk aisles and admire works of art. And ... what about being able to live real adventures with no risk? The truth is that sooner than later we will know if these personalized experiences become a new form of tourism.