How VR is changing the way people buy travel

Young woman with virtual reality headset smiling and gesturing

This new innovation could change the way travellers shop for and purchase trips, helping airlines and other travel companies become next generation retailers.

“We live in a 3D world, why shouldn’t we shop for travel that way?”

This was the idea that inspired Justin Wilde, a user experience developer at Amadeus company, Navitaire, to convince his manager to let him develop a Virtual Reality experience that would allow travellers to complete an entire travel booking all in VR.

Four months later, Wilde’s VR concept was ready for its first booking.

“I see a future in which the internet will be a 3D experience, and everyone will have their own portable 3D headsets,” he said.

This will be a much more natural experience for us, because the world we live in has three dimensions. I think technology, and the way we design user experience online should reflect that too.

Wilde’s VR booking experience begins with the traveller standing on a platform in the clouds facing a giant globe of the world.

The user can spin the globe to select a destination, and suddenly there they are, staring at the London Eye for example. If the traveller likes what they see, they can purchase a flight and go through the entire booking process right through to payment.

When selecting a flight, the traveller can walk through the plane cabin to find the right seat, and when booking a rental car they can hop in and try different cars.

In the future, the VR experience could include hotel booking features, and even social functions so the traveller could see where their Facebook friends have been as they spin the globe.

“Amadeus’ approach to innovation is driven by our awareness of customer needs, the creativity of our employees and our foresight into the trends shaping our industry,” said Rashesh Jethi, Head of R&D in the Americas for Amadeus.

We have to continually evolve how we do things so that we can help our customers adapt to and thrive in a rapidly changing world

“We’re not just thinking of the next ‘big idea’, we want to execute ideas that help our customers to do things more effectively, more creatively and more easily to deliver value to their business.

“Our internal culture of openness and experimentation means we can identify ideas for doing things differently from teams that work day-to-day with customers, and test different ideas across our base, and Justin’s project is a perfect example of that.”

Wilde completed the first booking using his VR search and booking web application on December 31, 2016 in the Navitaire offices in Salt Lake City. For now, it is still in a project phase, with a patent pending.

The Amadeus ambition is to facilitate the entire journey from door-to-door and improve the travel experience for the over one billion trips made yearly using Amadeus technology: from inspiration and search to making a booking, from pricing to ticketing, from managing reservations to managing check-in and departure processes.

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