Over the past few years, virtual reality or VR technology has taken off in a big way. VR headsets are now being sold to mainstream consumers in vast numbers, with the video gaming industry extolling their virtues. However, other fields have also adopted virtual reality, exploring and realizing the exciting potential of this technology as a tool, particularly for marketing possibilities. From the sports betting industry to the engineering sector, businesses all over the world have already harnessed the potential of this cutting-edge development. One such industry is the travel and tourism sector, which has embraced VR as a way of giving would-be travelers a host of engaging and interactive experiences.
Virtual Reality in Tourism
Great Virtual Reality Travel Experiences
The Best VR Apps for Travel
How To Gain From Virtual Reality In Tourism And Travel
How Virtual Reality Applies to Tourism Marketing
Virtual Reality — Emerging Backbone of Tourism Industry
Virtual Reality In Tourism: Transforming Travelling Experiences
VR Tourism: Travel The World With Virtual Reality
Benefits of Virtual Reality in the Tourism and Travel industry
Companies which operate in the travel and tourism sector have rapidly adopted VR technology, and it’s easy to see why. Usually, their customers want to buy experiences, not products. VR can offer marketers in this sector an especially effective way of giving would-be travelers a hint of what can be expected when they book the vacation of their dreams.
Travelers usually want plenty of detail before booking a hotel, resort or trip. Traditionally, they would read brochures, look at photographs and talk to a vacation planner. More recently, they might look at online videos and traveler reviews or seek out opinions on Facebook or other social media sites. VR, however, can shorten the process of making a decision exponentially.
A significant number of travel companies and hotel chains are now offering VR elements on their apps and websites so users can experience a digitized version of their resort facilities and rooms. By immersing consumers in an interactive experience, the travel and tourism industry is, effectively, giving tourists the option to try before they buy.
Of course, this isn’t the only application of virtual reality when it comes to the travel sector. There are now some truly impressive virtual reality travel experiences which are designed to bring the world to your very own home.
Whether you can’t afford to travel, are unable to leave your house, or whether you’re simply planning where to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, the latest VR developments allow would-be travelers to see some of the world’s most famous sights and landmarks from the comfort of their own front room.
By mixing the latest VR technology with other advances like 360-degree video capture and Photogrammetry, it’s now possible for anyone to travel virtually to global destinations without ever having to set foot outside their own front door.
If you’re keen to try out some of the very best virtual reality apps to allow you to experience the thrill of traveling from your own home, here are 20 of the top options to download for your headset.
1. The Grand Canyon Experience
When it comes to worldwide landmarks that truly impress, it’s hard to beat the splendor of the Grand Canyon. This Grand Canyon Experience tour allows you to ride in a virtual kayak while you explore the beauty of this amazing destination. Choose a day or night experience, control the speed yourself, and enjoy the sounds and sights along the way. You’re even able to hear and see AI wildlife and feed virtual fish while you sail along the waterways. While you can’t actually steer your own kayak, you are able to stop your vehicle at several points or even exit your kayak at the scenic rest points.
This virtual reality travel app enables you to explore real-world environments which have been scanned and modeled. The difference between this app and many of its rivals is that the environments you experience aren’t simply 360-degree captured photos, they’re actual locations which have been scanned with specialized equipment so they can be rendered immersively in VR. Using your VR controllers, you can rotate the globe and select the spot you’d like to visit, and the array of options is truly exciting. One of the most fascinating has to be one of the prison cells in Alcatraz, where you can listen to a historical narrator telling you about their own experience. It’s not only a visually intriguing experience, it’s an educational one.
3. Everest VR
If you’ve always longed to climb Mount Everest but lack the mountaineering skill or the finances to do so, this VR title is the ideal solution for you. As an interactive tourism experience, you can experience climbing-related content and documentary-style vignettes in complete safety and without any worries about frostbite! You’ll really feel like you’re participating in the climb with the stunning scenery and inventive content.
Although this is an experimental title from Valve, it’s free to use and is a great way to experience virtual locations. Destinations enables the user to walk freely, visiting various spots around the world in a virtual environment. Some of the destinations are fictional, others are real-world locales like Tower Bridge in London. Even better, there are social elements added into this game through a user community, and this means that the universe you’ll be able to explore will grow and change as time goes on.
5. Google Earth VR
When the original Google Earth appeared on the scene years ago, everybody was amazed that they could see their own home remotely thanks to the satellite imagery. Google Earth VR takes this thrill to a whole new level. Now, you can’t just see your home from Space, you can actually fly to it virtually and stand on your roof or in your front yard! Even more impressively, you can change the position of the sun to suit your preferences, scale things to your preferred size, and move around wherever you want. If you’ve ever wanted to have the ability to fly around the globe at will, this title is the one for you. Major tourist spots are especially detailed, and there is no shortage of things to see. Google even offers virtual tours so you can get started.
This travel VR app allows you to virtually experience cultural sites and museums in San Francisco and in England. However, you won’t just be looking around the 3D renderings – you’ll be able to discover textual information and audio tours too for an even more educational and interactive experience. There are even some exhibits which can be further engaged with. For example, if you engage with the well-known A Bar At The Folies-Bergere painting by Manet, you’ll find yourself in an animated imagining of all the events shown in the artwork. If you’re a fine art fan, Boulevard is the ultimate travel VR app for you.
VR has enabled photo galleries to be turned into interactive three-dimensional experiences. This VR experience is made up of a selection of professional photographers’ shots that allow you to get up close and personal with museums, events, locales and landmarks in seconds. If you’ve ever wanted to explore Yosemite National Park or Hawaii’s lava-tubes, you can achieve your goals through this interactive app. Some of the experiences feature audio commentary to tell you more about what you’re experiencing and seeing.
8. Lufthansa #TravelCompass
The well-known German Lufthansa airline has created a number of 360 degree videos of popular tourist spots around the world including: Tokyo, San Francisco, New York, Miami, Hong Kong and Beijing. Every clip lasts for around 45 minutes and allows users to pan around famous areas in every city. If you’ve always wanted to see San Francisco’s Lombard Street or Hong Kong’s Wan Chai Street Market you can do it remotely through TravelCompass.
We know the GoPro brand best for its action cameras, however it has now entered the VR sector. These 360-degree GoPro videos allow you to experience all kinds of locations and activities from bike riding along the Gran Canaria rooftops to surfing the waves in Tahiti. You can discover world-famous sights like the Golden Gate Bridge and take an up-close-and-personal tour of New York City. You won’t be disappointed by the quality of this experience.
This virtual reality app is entirely dedicated to travel and tourism. Downloadable to both iOS and Android devices, it offers a wide range of 360 degree photo and video tours that allow you to experience an enormous variety of locations and activities around the world. Whether you’ve always longed to see reindeer racing in Norway or experience Disneyland Hong Kong’s Star Wars parade, you can with Ascape.
If you have a VR headset, you can experience YouVisit content which encompasses an enormous range of 360-degree videos and photos from across the globe. You can discover the famous Parisian Louvre Museum without ever leaving your living room, take a ride in a helicopter over the Big Apple or experience the amazing Ayutthaya temples in Thailand from a remote vantage point, and if you’ve always longed to go on a cruise, you can even enjoy the virtual experience of getting onboard the Carnival Breeze.
12. Wild Within
If you’re wondering whether you should visit British Columbia in Canada, you should try out the Wild Within VR experience. You can explore this western province’s natural beauty with the opportunity to travel through the Great Bear Rainforest’s Broughton Archipelago. Discover the coast and the mountains of this stunning location without having to get on an airplane.
13. AccorHotels for Cardboard
The famous AccorHotels brand has made it really easy to see some of its most popular properties across the world by developing a cutting edge virtual reality experience. You can access this software from your smartphone and browse their luxury accommodation in Sao Paulo, Paris, London and more.
14. BWVRE (Best Western Virtual Reality Experience)
If you’re planning a trip anywhere in the world, you might be considering staying in a Best Western chain hotel. As one of the biggest and best chains, Best Western have cashed in on the VR experience to offer 360 tours which invite would-be guests to experience an interactive visit of some of their most popular USA properties. Not only can you view the lobby and guest rooms, you can also see the amenities on offer as if you were really there. With its high-definition 8KL resolution, you’ll get a truly authentic visitor experience.
15. Qantas Virtual Reality
Having partnered up with Samsung, Qantas Airways now enables customers to experience some of their most popular Australian destinations with a highly successful VR app. Enabling users to experience their native country’s unique beauty in glorious technicolor, this app gives viewers a 360 degree interactive cinematic exploration of picturesque vacation hotspots.
If you’re planning to travel closer to home, the U.S. state of Delaware is ahead of the VR craze, having launched its own virtual reality 360 degree video which enables viewers to take leisurely strolls on the boardwalk at Rehoboth Beach or to canoe in Trap Pond State Park among other popular local activities.
17. India VR
India’s Ministry of Tourism has paired up with Google Arts and Culture to make a video in 360 degrees which showcases some of the nation’s most beautiful and iconic landmarks. This VR app enables you to take an interactive and engaging tour of the Qutub Minar tower, Delhi and the temples of Hamphi along with other stunning spots. It’s the perfect way to discover the excitement that a trip to India could hold before booking your flight.
18. Thailand Tourism Authority
Similar to India’s VR video, Thailand’s Tourism Authority has also recently launched their own VR video to showcase the top attractions that visitors to their country could enjoy. Viewers can get up close to silk makers, explore a rice farm and even watch a Thai boxing match in virtual reality showing the potential a trip to this beautiful Asian destination could hold.
This distribution platform for interactive VR content hosts an amazing array of high-quality, interactive 360 degree videos of various popular vacation spots around the world. Whether you’re planning your next vacation and want to see what a specific destination has to offer or whether you’re traveling vicariously from your armchair, you’ll find fascinating content to help you discover Thailand, Maui, Paris and Yellowstone National Park among other locations.
Although not everyone would describe NASA’s app as a travel and tourism option, we’ve included it here because it embraces the potential of future vacations. Who wouldn’t love to experience the thrill of going into space? Now, you can achieve it from your sofa with the NASA app that brings you 360 degree videos and images of Mars.
Virtual reality travel experiences are offering companies the ability to entice customers and engage with them in a way that not even the glossiest travel brochure could. Virtual reality immerses prospective travelers into a fully three-dimensional, interactive experience during which they can discover a destination before purchasing a ticket. Showing a customer a video or photograph of a city is one thing, but when they can physically walk through a virtual version of the city and see its cafes, streets and attractions up close, that is something completely different and infinitely better.
Virtual reality is therefore, in essence, the most impressive and effective advertising and promotional tool that travel agents have in their arsenal today. Enabling travelers to not just experience the attractions of their proposed destination but to actually see their chosen hotel up close in a 360 degree video tour converts browsers into buyers more rapidly.
It’s clear, then, that the ROI on travel industry VR technology is well worth the investment. In fact, for anyone setting up a tourism or travel business, drawing up a business plan which fails to include virtual reality is already behind when it comes to the future of the industry.
As new technologies are invented, consumers’ lives change and adapt, and VR has proved to be no exception. It’s no wonder, then, that the travel and tourism industry has set its sights firmly on virtual reality as a useful tool to promote and market destinations, resorts and products.
The internet has already opened doors for the tourist industry, making it simple for travelers to reserve accommodation and transport with just the touch of a button. Thanks to online browsing, it’s also easier for vacationers to become familiar with their chosen destination before they even arrive through online reviews, photos and videos. However now, the latest VR technology has opened up even more possibilities for tourism marketers – the ability to enable would-be travelers to physically experience a destination in all its virtual glory.
To stay competitive over the long-term, the tourist industry must attract a bigger audience while also meeting the expectations and demands of a new generation of travelers. To do this, companies must adapt, integrating the latest technology, improving interactive content and implementing it into their existing marketing strategies.
With VR, it becomes possible for tourism marketers to present information about services and products in a completely different and infinitely more impressive way since the latest technology makes it easier for tourists to search for details and to plan their trips and to make decisions about where they want to stay and what they want to do when they get to their chosen destination.
Quality information couldn’t be more important when it comes to tourism marketing. Would-be travelers want to know what to expect when they part with their hard-earned cash on a vacation. With the latest 360 degree VR visits, tourists can experience the reality of their chosen destination and resort. They can assess more easily whether it’s the right choice for them and be more confident about making a booking.
VR is a very useful tool for tourism marketers since it can activate the consumer’s emotions. By stimulating their senses and enabling users to interact with the experience, it is much more likely to result in a sale when compared with simply showing customers a travel brochure.
Although VR technology is quite new, it has already begun to emerge as a backbone of the tourism industry. Already, there are a number of virtual reality tools which give both travel agents and travelers alike a new and creative way to obtain information about destinations, resorts and tourist activities, and many more are set to appear in the near future.
There are many different travel and tourism sectors which are already benefiting from VR to strengthen their consumer offerings. These include:
- Rail companies and airlines – by giving consumers the chance to virtually tour a railcar or aircraft cabin, these companies can secure speedy bookings. When customers can receive a virtual guided tour of stations or airport terminals, they can familiarize themselves with the booking in or check-in process before arrival, while familiarization with the lounges, stores, security procedures and information desks help travelers to save time and to feel more comfortable while traveling in an unfamiliar location.
- Destinations – states, countries and resorts alike are all recognizing the potential of VR tours to encourage travelers to visit their destination. From vacation hotspots to hidden gems, it’s possible to showcase the highlights of any location with a custom VR app.
- Car hire companies – car hire is a vital component within the travel and tourism industry, however all-too-often, consumers aren’t happy with the car with which they are supplied. By using VR to showcase the fleet, it’s possible for customers to choose the right vehicle for them before arrival.
- Exhibition centers and conference venues – not everyone travels for pleasure. In fact, a large part of today’s travel market is composed of business travelers and VR tours represent an outstanding way of helping visitors to familiarize themselves with the facilities available to them when visiting an exhibition center or conference venue.
- Restaurants – virtually every traveler wants to try local cuisine when they’re visiting a new destination, so restaurants can benefit from the use of VR to show off their premises and menu and to increase sales.
- Concert halls, arenas and theaters – all venues can benefit from giving customers virtual tours before they arrive. When customers are traveling to see a game or performance, they want to know what to expect when they arrive. VR can be extremely helpful in this respect.
Virtual reality has transformed the way in which traveling experiences can be enjoyed. Not only can those planning a trip get up close and personal to potential destinations but those who are unable to afford to travel or who physically are unable to leave their home can also have first hand experiences of some of the world’s most amazing cities and landmarks.
Google Street View is just one example of how VR can transform the way we travel. When paired with Google Cardboard VR viewer, it’s possible to visit different spots around the world from your own home and to plan your travel more effectively so you can enjoy maximum value for money from your trip.
Meanwhile, hotel chains are resorts are now offering VR services to help potential guests to see what they can enjoy if they book a room with them. By showing the facilities and guest rooms as well as the attractions of various travel destinations, it’s possible to attract a wider range of customers.
VR is also transforming the traveler’s experience by making it even easier to book vacations. By allowing tourists to select their preferred destination on the virtual globe before booking directly, it’s possible to hire cars, arrange flights and to plan an itinerary in a more engaging, interactive and effective way.
At one time, travelers would research places which they wanted to visit by looking at photos, watching videos and browsing through brochures and travel guides. However, this always raised the possibility that a resort or destination wouldn’t live up to expectation. VR in the travel and tourism industry has turned all of that on its head. Now, vacationers can physically explore a destination in virtual reality before purchasing a room or package. This eliminates the possibility of any unwanted surprises and reassures travelers that they will be getting the experience that they’re paying for. Hotels and resorts have a key role to play in the tourism industry. When travelers can see the rooms, galleries, views and bathrooms before they book, there’ll be no disappointments after check-in. Modern customers have lots of options to pick from, but they still want to make wise choices. They appreciate convenience and value for money, and VR can help to meet consumers’ rising expectations. It’s no wonder that almost three-quarters of generation Z internet users have expressed their interest in virtual reality as a useful tool to inform their travel planning.
It’s clear that VR brings a host of benefits to the travel and tourism industry. Some of them include:
- The ability to create a deeper engagement with customers – by capturing the tourist’s imagination through the use of virtual reality, businesses within the travel sector can create compelling and honest perspectives of their unique experiences.
- Transforming your digital presence – when businesses within the travel sector create cutting-edge virtual reality travel experiences they can enhance their reputation within the industry and transform their digital presence, making it more accessible across a wider range of platforms including desktop PCs, mobile devices and VR headsets.
- Reaching a wider audience – when businesses within the travel industry develop VR apps of their own, they can reach a broader spectrum of potential customers.
- Nurturing qualified leads – when travel businesses design immersive virtual reality experiences that allow travelers to try before they buy, it doesn’t just make the customer’s journey more fun and stimulating, but it also helps would-be travelers to make purchasing decisions more quickly.
- Accelerating sales – by integrative interactive reservation software in a customer’s virtual reality journey, it becomes possible to accelerate the booking process. This increases sales and enhances revenue exponentially.
It’s easy to see how virtual reality is relevant to all aspects of the travel and tourism industry. From making customers feel familiar with hotel rooms to allow travelers to discover the activities and attractions to enjoy in their chosen destination, VR breathes new life into each step of a traveler’s journey, elevating all aspects of the travel industry to new heights of success.
Do you want to know more about how virtual reality can impact on the travel and tourism sector? Read on and find out the answers to these commonly asked questions:
What’s the importance of virtual reality in the travel market?
Virtual reality has considerable importance in the travel market. When its potential is harnessed effectively, it can help tourists and would-be travelers to make decisions about hotels, resorts, destinations and airlines more rapidly and to make more effective planning decisions when arranging their trips.
Will virtual reality increase or decrease tourism?
Although some people wonder whether VR will decrease tourism as would-be travelers can experience the world’s hotspots and most popular sights from the comfort of their own home, it’s actually more likely that virtual reality will increase tourism. By getting an interactive taste of what a resort or destination has to offer, travelers will be more likely to want to go there in person and physically experience everything on offer.
Are virtual reality holidays the future of travel?
Although virtual reality holidays could be the future of travel for some people, they’re almost certainly never going to take over from the physical vacation industry. For those who are physically unable to travel or those who will never be able to afford to see some of the world’s most exotic spots, VR can revolutionize their travel possibilities. However, for most people, the lure of real-world travel will always supercede over VR exploration.
What are the possible applications of VR in the travel industry?
VR has numerous possible applications within the travel industry. It can be used by country and state official travel organizations to showcase their local attractions and highlights in order to encourage travelers to book a trip. It can also be used by resorts and hotels to show their facilities and amenities, and by car hire companies, airlines and train lines to demonstrate the benefits of using them to travel. VR can help travelers to familiarize themselves with resorts, airports, venues and destinations before arrival and to plan a trip more effectively so that no money or time is wasted.
How can augmented reality be useful in the travel industry?
Augmented reality is already proving useful within the travel industry. Some hotels are using AR to add interactive elements into their properties while travel guides are also making use of AR to give travelers extra information about tourist spots.
Why is virtual reality wowing travel industry marketers?
Virtual reality is wowing travel industry marketers thanks to its potential to turn more visitors into paying customers. By giving marketers a tool to reach a wider audience and to showcase assets, it’s possible to accelerate sales and increase revenue exponentially.
How will virtual reality disrupt the travel industry?
The biggest disruption to the travel industry that VR is likely to cause will be to those destinations, attractions, travel companies and resorts which cannot afford to invest in the latest technology. Without the same advantages, they are likely to see a reduction in revenue as those businesses which have made the investment see increased profits. Also, those resorts which are substandard will also see disruption to their customer numbers as travelers choose to go elsewhere after seeing the reality of booking a trip there.
Will virtual reality put an end to physical travel?
Despite VR’s amazing potential, it’s unlikely to put an end to physical travel at any point in the near future. While those who will never be able to travel to exotic destinations may turn to VR to enjoy a more realistic travel experience which is out of reach to them in the real-world, most people will always prefer to see a destination in person than in a virtual world.
How does VR apply to tourism marketing?
VR has many applications in tourism marketing. By giving marketers tools to physically show would-be travelers the attractions, amenities and facilities at a resort or destination, they can quickly convert browsers into buyers.
How long until Virtual reality disrupts the travel industry?
It’s unlikely that VR is ever going to truly disrupt the travel industry to any great extent, at least in a negative way. For those companies within the sector that embrace the technology, the only changes will be positive ones. VR has already made huge advances within the sector, and it’s likely that even more changes and adaptations will be on their way over the next 5 years.
How does virtual reality impact the travel industry?
VR is positively impacting on the travel industry where it has been harnessed to its full potential by showcasing the benefits of traveling to specific destinations. When travelers can see up close what they could be enjoying they are much more likely to make a booking.
What new technologies are used in tourism?
Some of the latest technologies being used in tourism include the Internet of Things which is making hotel rooms customizable to the customer’s preferences and facial recognition systems which are making airports safer. By adopting AI into websites, hotels and travel companies can answer customers’ queries more efficiently while AR and VR are making booking and planning trips much simpler.
What do people actually think of travel-based virtual reality?
Surveys have shown that most people who have experienced travel-based VR are amazed and impressed. Most of them felt excited by the possibilities and said that they felt that they had been transported to a different world.
What is the best platform for VR or virtual tourism?
There are many different VR platforms however arguably at the present time, the best one for virtual tourism is probably the Oculus Go because of its portability.
How will travel & tourism change in the future?
The travel and tourism industry is always changing and evolving to meet customers’ ever-changing needs. Some of the predictions for upcoming changes include an increase in demand for eco-friendly and sustainable vacations with an emphasis on cultural experiences. Virtual reality travel is likely to become more prevalent while faster and more efficient transport methods such as the Hyperloop are likely to be implemented.
What are some travel and tourism marketing trends?
There are a number of travel and tourism marketing trends which have risen to the fore in recent years, however some of the most prevalent include a drive towards mobile marketing, the use of big data to create personalized marketing experiences for individual travelers, and the use of AR and VR to showcase destinations and properties.
Will virtual reality replace travel?
Despite the possibilities that VR travel can offer, it’s unlikely to ever replace the physical experiences you can enjoy through real world travel. As humans, we will always appreciate the hands-on experience, even if VR experiences are impressively convincing.
Why would an architect use a virtual tour?
An architect would use a virtual tour to show clients how their property will look in three-dimensions when complete. Unlike looking at a plan, a VR tour will allow clients to experience the reality of each room and feature in detail and to see in person what works and what doesn’t.
Will VR cause an increase or decrease in travel?
VR is most likely to cause an increase in travel, since when travelers can see up close what they could expect to enjoy in a resort or destination they’re more likely to make a booking.
How will augmented reality impact the hospitality industry?
AR will give the hospitality industry a boost. By adding gamification elements and by creating more interactive traveler experiences, augmented reality will help travelers to see exactly what they could be experiencing and encourage them to spend more money.
Which Industries Will benefit from Virtual reality?
Many industries can benefit from the use of VR. As well as the travel and tourism sector, the automotive, education, architectural, healthcare and retail industries are all poised to benefit from the latest technology.
What are some cool virtual reality ideas?
There are numerous cool VR ideas which are already being implemented. Some include shared 3D simulations which are being used for military exercises and training, interaction spaces for people who are unable to leave their home, desensitization therapies to help those with specific phobias, virtual conference and entertainment spaces and the opportunity to experience out-of-reach destinations and locations through a virtual headset.
How is virtual reality influencing your travel behavior?
VR is influencing travel behavior by making the process of planning a vacation more interactive and engaging. More fun than looking at a brochure, VR experiences are making it quicker and easier to make travel purchasing decisions.
How is technology changing the travel and tourism industry?
Technology is changing the travel industry for the better, helping travelers to book vacations and trips more effectively and speedily and helping to make businesses within the sector more efficient, secure and safe. The Internet of Things is making hotel rooms more customizable to customers’ requirements while facial recognition technology is making airports safer. AI is making it easier for customers to get speedy responses to their questions while VR and AR is making it easier for travelers to book trips and to familiarize themselves with locations.
How might augmented reality transform the travel industry?
Augmented reality is already transforming the travel and tourism industry. Not only are travelers now able to use AR-enhanced travel guides to learn more about their destination but hotels are also beginning to use AR to add gamification elements to their property guides as well as interactive elements to their rooms.