How Virtual Reality is Shaping the Travel Industry

When it launched on Kickstarter in 2012, Oculus Rift was met with great anticipation. The virtual reality headset was eventually snapped up by Facebook for a cool $2 billion, hailing a new era for gaming. True to his word, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg, said: “This is just the start. After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences.”

Travel being one

In travel, an immersive customer experience is as vital as a bespoke domain name. As such, virtual reality may just well become part of your business’ future reality. Here’s how other brands have optimised the technology.

Taking Off

Immersing customers in a truly unique experience, it’s no surprise that the virtual reality headsets have been widely used by airlines. British Airways was one of the first to bring travel experiences to consumers back in 2014. This involved riding bucking broncos in Texas to ice-skating in Byrant Park, New York.

More recently, Dutch airline KLM debuted their headsets to customers waiting to board their flights, offering a chance to preview the cabins and flight services. Interestingly, this wasn’t just aimed at high-end customers, but in fact their budget travellers, to offer a ‘virtual upgrade’.

Qantas has gone one step further by offering VR headsets to customers on flights to create a unique in-flight experience. “Whether the user wants a virtual tour of our new Los Angeles First Lounge or experience an A380 landing from the tarmac, this technology gives us a completely new way to connect with our customers,” said Olivia Wirth of Qantas Group.

Hotels Check-in to Oculus

Not just resigned to airlines, the travel industry as a whole has embraced the potential of virtual reality.

Mariott Hotels presented Oculus Rift headsets to ‘teleport’ guests to other destinations they might like to visit. While high-end Shangri-La hotels introduced a virtual reality online experience with 360-degree videos of their iconic hotels around the world.

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VR to the Future

Virtual reality has been shown to be a powerful tool in brand building, extending the customer experience and may even help generate more revenue for brands.

In travel alone the ability to step onto a beach may inspire customers to book a holiday, the chance to preview a hotel room might lead to more spend in upgraded rooms, and the opportunity to preview an aircraft during the tedious boarding process, may just make customers feel special enough to fly with you again.

More than just a futuristic tool, VR could well be the solution your company needs for a competitive edge.

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