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However, all these are designed purely for promotion. Destination marketers want you to be
on their beaches, museums but hope to attract new visitors as a result. Abbey Road
reinforces the brand, and restaurants bring in more diners.
In theory the same technology could be used to organise for-profit virtual tours, generating
revenue from people who might never come for a real-life visit. This is not happening yet for
several reasons. First of all the technology isn’t quite mature enough yet. Google’s
Streetview is impressive but still far from the real experience. But in addition, it’s hard to sell
virtual tours because most are giving them away free – especially Google. That undermines
the business case.
Looking ahead, however, there are opportunities where a real-life visit is either impossible
or possibly less useful.
Limited access: There are some sites where visits are strictly limited because of space
limitations or to protect delicate art works. Off limit to most people, these sites could only be
visited virtually so there is no competition with actual visitors. Other locations like Abbey
Road studio are not normally open to the public because they are used for business and
some buildings are private homes that are rarely if ever open to the public. There are also
some locations that are not going to last much longer like soon to be dismantled film sets or
buildings to be demolished.
Enhanced visits: In other cases a virtual tour could incorporate other elements that enrich
the experience, including photos, videos and commentaries. These virtual tours cross the
line between a pure visit and entertainment. The appeal of enhanced tours is that people
who have already been to a location might still be interested in the virtual tour and viceversa.
Virtual worlds: One area where competition with real-life tourism is non-existent is virtual
worlds. Second Life, the 3D virtual world where you can meet other people, has shown that
it is possible to manage interactive visits by many people to a non-existent location. Their
user-generated world is now so rich and complex that some ‘residents’ earn real money as
tourist guides for new users. Companies owning the rights to nonexistent worlds like the
Star Wars universe, but creative teams could also create interesting experiences of their
own. An interesting example is one by Visit Finland and Rovio Entertainment – the company
that developed Angry Birds. The two organisations recently joined forces on an
innovative destination marketing initiative.
Virtual tourism today doesn’t really impact the business except as a promotional tool, but as
new generations become more comfortable with virtual reality there will be new options to
exploit it in different ways and could bring new opportunities for additional revenue.
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.
And how do we apply virtual reality to 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.
1. In the process of searching for information or planning.
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.
2. In the process of decision making or booking.
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
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
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
But is there business for virtual reality in tourism?
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