Tourism

1 in 5 travellers have used VR to select a holiday

Lauren Croft

Imagine sailing through crystal clear waters on a breezy yacht; looking around and seeing only blue skies and small strips of sand. Then your headset comes off – and you’re back in your kitchen.

But you probably want to be on the crystal clear water for real now, right? That’s one of the many powers of virtual reality (VR) – and companies are using it more than ever before.

For the unacquainted, virtual reality mimics reality – mostly through a headset of some sort but sometimes using special gloves or omni-directional treadmills. As odd as the latter sounds, these tools stimulate the senses – and creates an illusion of reality.

The result? Being able to experience video games, films and locations as if you were there yourself.

In fact, virtual reality feels so ~real~ it’s often used to train fire fighters and surgeons – according to The Virtual Reality society, whenever it’s “too dangerous, expensive or impractical to do something in reality, virtual reality is the answer”.

And while travelling may not necessarily be dangerous, expensive or impractical for some, many companies like Tourism Australia are using virtual reality as a selling point – because customers can experience a place or product (like Kangaroos on a beach) before they buy.

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Qantas launched a virtual reality app last year, allowing anyone who wanted to visit Australia to view 360° videos of places like Uluru and Sydney Harbour.

The app was compatible with the latest virtual reality equipment for 3D video viewing – and complete with a “book now” button where customers could search flights to wherever they had been looking at in 3D.

And Qantas wasn’t the only company seeing the benefits of virtual reality: Cruiseabout started to provide Samsung VR headsets at selected stores last year – where anyone could experience what being on a cruise ship would actually be like.

Fast forward a few months and virtual reality has become one of the most exciting innovations in tourism marketing – and the new storytelling method has the potential to become a game changer for the travel sector.

According to new research by Tourism Australia, almost one in five of consumers have used VR to help select a holiday destination, with around 25 per cent planning to use VR in the future to help them choose a holiday destination.

In fact, travellers who used VR to choose a holiday destination praised the ability to get a feel of the destination and to preview the experiences on offer, thus managing their expectations.

Who wants to head to ‘a pristine beach’ in Indonesia only to find it scattered with rubbish?

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Tourism Australia has recently launched a variety of 360° videos, as well as 18 VR videos, to show the rest of the world the most beautiful places has to offer. Since the launch, there have been a massive 10.5 million views – and it’s no surprise, these videos are dreamy.

It’s already been a record year for Aussie Tourism – and to vicariously live through travellers, check out the videos here.

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