One day you’re in Paris, watching the Eiffel tower, the next moment you’re sitting on a tropical beach at Bora Bora and a bit later you’re on Mars…. yes, it’s possible with VR, virtual reality; dubbed as a major future marketing tool for companies. 

Using virtual reality to sell stuff is not new and I’d love to see more travel-related companies starting to use this new technology to serve their customers better. But are there even better opportunities for this tool?

How can we use VR in travel?

One of the major characteristics of travel is that most of it (actually, all) is intangible. Selling intangible products requires a good sales pitch. Within travel, one is selling an experience which is fully intangible; probably increasing the need for smart tools to inform, entertain and persuade potential bookers. These days, customers are looking for more than just a few pictures or a video. VR is said to be the future and, from a personal experience, I have to admit it is an awesome way to discover a destination or product. But yet, I have to spot the first travel agent that offers experiences using VR glasses in their shop; a pity.

Personally, I love the example that Virgin is executing in their stores:

Airlines are already offering VR experiences on board of their airplanes. How cool is that? And I’ve seen plenty of country stands (at the Vakantiebeurs, ITB and WorldTravelMarket for example) offering VR glasses to inspire their customers to book a certain destination. I believe its definitely an added value if people can at least visually experience a destination they are about to book.

When it crosses the line

I also read about “First Airlines” from Japan. It’s not actually an airline but a VR travel provider. Customers take their seats in fake airplane cabins and experience their travel to Paris or any other destination. While I understand the idea, I find VR to be a gimmick; a sales tool. Not an actual travel product. I’m even more surprised to see there is an actual market for it. But even then, let’s realise its Japan we’re talking about; The Japanese have a unique skill to do things a little different it is not the first time they surprise me. 🙂

Bottom line:

So… VR is cool, it’s awesome and a really cool addition as a marketing tool. But up to now, it’s unclear how we can use it in the travel industry. Do we really want to offer “trips” without moving anyone and consider that to be a quality product? Or will we keep using VR as marketing tools? I am very interested in your opinion about this

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