Travel and technology have become inseparable today.
Can you imagine being transported to a picturesque beach or a plush bar in an instant? Virtual Reality (VR) enables such experiences, which are referred to as 4D. According to forecasts, VR and Augmented Reality (AR) markets are set to reach $150 billion 1 with strong possibilities of revolutionizing the travel and hospitality sector. Virtual reality headsets offer 360-degree videos and panoramic images which can very well redefine the future of travel. It allows travelers to investigate new destinations and experiences before they actually book their travel or stay.
Airlines embrace VR
Hotels and travel agencies are not the only entities that are embracing the virtual experience. Airlines are warming up to the idea too. KLM Royal Dutch airline 2 is testing out a range of virtual and augmented reality apps to advertise amenities which they provide on the flights. They promise consumers an immersive virtual experience which helps them decide which flight to choose. Whether it is sitting on the aisle seat, talking to the attendants, or watching a movie on the go, VR gives travel enthusiasts lifelike experiences of flying with the airline. Interestingly, Amadeus too has been testing VR as a travel booking option.
Striking a responsive chord
Carnival Corp 3 is another travel company which has turned to virtual reality to boost its business. In partnership with Samsung and AT&T, it came up with a campaign where video content was placed in 133 stores. This two-minute film showcased shore excursions, three ships, entertainment and dining options, and sunset views. The content was accessible through Samsung Gear VR (powered by Oculus) which gave the potential customers a modern cruise experience.
Interestingly, as the focus shifts in advertising and marketing from showcasing benefits to tapping emotions, VR complements this trend. A recent study 4 reveals that two-thirds of people who engaged in travel-based VR experiences experienced a sense of thrill or joy.
A thought to ponder upon
Virtual reality is fast transforming travel-related content as well. It is not only the future of content marketing but is also paving way for user-generated content (UGC). The day is not too far when travelers create their own virtual reality videos and share personalized experiences in a VR format. According to a recent research report 5, virtual and augmented reality devices are likely to flood the market in the next few years. The frontiers of the virtual and augmented reality applications are broad. They are not limited to travel but extend to real estate, healthcare, sports, and education. While the different virtual and augmented reality apps take the advantage of a smarter and more engaged audience and provide digital overlays within the existing reality, let’s take a look inside a business. The debate which has cropped up is whether an integrated platform is better than multiple apps for a travel company.
This argument is valid for apps which a business designs for internal use as well. Most businesses while trying to gain a share of the virtual and augmented reality market, run into the struggle of complex internal processes. One big pitfall is the use of multiple stand-alone applications for varying functions. As a business grows, these apps can give rise to operational inefficiencies. At times, these inefficiencies can be severe enough to impede growth. Hence, travel companies, hotels, and agencies relying on multiple apps may fail to reach their full potential. An integrated software suite or platform based on virtual or augmented reality could be the answer to this problem.
An integrated platform will ensure that the employees are not spending a considerable amount of time in disjointed processes which not only increases inefficiency but also takes their focus away from the core responsibilities. With multiple stand-alone apps, it may be challenging to gauge business performance.
On the contrary, with an integrated platform, gathering performance-related metrics and insights will not be an impossible task. Disparate systems can lead to wastage of time and money, invested in maintaining, upgrading, and integrating the apps. An integrated platform developed with a focus on customer experience will lower the churn rate. Apart from process efficiencies, an integrated suite will offer a unified customer view. Analytics can be used to gather relevant data from a single source which, in case of multiple apps, will be fragmented and scattered.
Today, as travel companies use sophisticated AR/VR apps they are struggling to keep pace with the growth and managing costs. Significant investments are required to develop multiple apps. The bottlenecks are not just monetary, but keeping a track of the apps can lead to employee productivity issues. An integrated platform instead of the disparate apps will not hold back the companies operating in the travel sector to reach new heights and create differentiated experiences.
One of the key tenet for the success of VR and AR would be their quick adoption by the masses/corporates. This, in turn, is dependent on mind blowing content creation while balancing limitations with the existing technologies and yet be able to generate great user experience which addresses relevant use cases. To enable the same, organizations are either internally adopting or looking at partners with Engineering mindset to realize this vision.