There have been some exciting developments in Virtual Reality (VR) over the years. While popular in the video game and education industry, VR is now being used to innovate the travel sector — especially amid the ongoing pandemic that has forced people to forgo their vacation plans. True enough, what used to be a mere gimmick in tourism is now becoming a valid form of alternative travel and immersion around the world.
Of course, COVID isn’t the only reason why VR is being pushed into the mainstream. Thanks to innovations in rigid-flex PCB technology, modern headsets are now more lightweight and compact. It’s a huge improvement from previous bulky devices that could only be found in arcades. Plus, this has lowered costs and streamlined headset usage. On that note, we can definitely expect VR to become even more popular from here.
Curious to see how VR is disrupting the travel industry? Keep reading as we enumerate a few ways.
Trying out attractions
Want to visit Tokyo but you’re unsure if it’s the right vacation spot for you? Or perhaps you’re set to visit Bali but want to see what the atmosphere is like first? Now, it’s possible to ‘try out’ destinations using 360-degree videos. Similar to VR tours, VR previews are commonly used more for marketing purposes — to pique people’s interests about a place. Destination BC, British Columbia’s travel bureau, was one of the first travel companies in the world to use 360-degree videos — showcasing locations like the Great Bear Rainforest and Whistler Blackcomb. Indeed, it’s more creative and enticing than any flyer or static photo could ever be.
Using VR, potential visitors are now able to get an idea of how their stay could look like. Since people can see what they’re getting into, it shortens the booking process and lessens the need to ask questions. For instance, German hotel management company GCH has been using VR to give guests the ability to view their rooms before they book. Aside from this, such features are also increasing engagement on hotel websites — boosting the likelihood of customers booking.
Traveling amid the pandemic
Despite the lockdowns and travel bans in place, you can still satisfy your itch to travel without leaving your home with just your smartphone or computer. Those who want the full VR experience can opt for headsets like the Oculus Quest. Cordless, portable, and relatively inexpensive, this gadget can be used with several VR travel apps. For example, the National Geographic Explore VR lets you explore the most iconic locations around the world — from Antarctica to Machu Picchu. Similarly, Wander allows you to navigate areas such as Amsterdam, England, and Spain. The options are endless with VR.
Even when traveling becomes safe again, you can still count on VR for self-guided tours of your destination. This allows you to go at your own pace, and you can even get more information regarding locations. You can try tours like Viator’s, which offer self-guided tours of the Colosseum — avoiding all lines and crowds, of course. Their VR app even shares stories of historical battles, and you can use it to access the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Scooterise, on the other hand, offers self-guided VR tours for Athens and Olympia. Wherever you want to go, VR can take you there in minutes.
Masab Farooque is a Tech Geek, Writer, and Founder at The Panther Tech. He is also a lead game developer at 10StaticStudios.
When he is not writing, he is mostly playing video games