Given the rapid expansion of globalization, the proportionate boom of the travel and tourism industry is no surprise. While affordable ticket prices and tourism packages are making it easier for people to go places like never before.
Besides all the conveniences, still there are places not everyone can visit due to various reasons.
This helps us realize how the travel and tourism industry can extract the most from augmented and virtual reality technology. Consequently, providing an entire new level of traveling experience to customers.
Experiencing the virtual and augmented reality tourist experience
Apparently, people like to travel around the globe and the tourism business isn’t stopping anytime soon. According to the 2018 Economic Impact Research Report presented by the World Travel Tourism Council, the travel and tourism businesses contributed a staggering $8.3 trillion (10.4%) of the global GDP in 2017.
The above data also indicates that the industry is actively entering many untapped physical and virtual spheres. While travel businesses are bound to provide a superior customer experience, or else the repercussions will be severe.
Fortunately the AR/VR technology has already demonstrated how the tourist experience can be complemented in the form powerful mobile applications. Businesses investing in tourism apps are harnessing the technology and letting travelers enjoy augmented reality tourist attractions like never before.
How travel brands are using virtual reality features to enhance the tourist experience?
Augmented reality maps and navigation
The simplest passage through which the AR technology fits in the traveling experience is through routing and navigation. Obviously, the feature incorporated is more than capable to guide the user in an efficient and effective manner.
As it stands, maps and routing features are essential for any traveler. While including accurate, interactive features only builds on the navigation experience especially when a traveler is at a foreign place.
Let’s not forget that tourists at any foreign place demand navigation tools as a mandatory item for their holidays. You never know when it comes handy in uncertain, and somewhat troublesome situations.
AR can be useful in such situations by helping travelers find the nearest hospital, police station, hotel, etc. In short, a lifesaver in emergency instances!
Augmented reality guided travel trips
Evidently, guided tours are the best tourist options around the globe. People travel to different places and hear popular narratives associated with those particular locations.
No matter how experienced the guide is in his content and presentation style. It is very difficult to cater the personal interests of each member of the travelling group. This is where the augmented reality features provide a more personalized, interactive guiding experience to the travelers.
Besides the freedom for selecting the style and content for guiding, their AR travel guide app will also customize the topics in which the traveler is specifically interested in. For example, historical sites and narrations for adults, and theme parks for kids.
With quick advancements in the AR/VR technology, we cannot rule out the possibility of travelers filling customized routes and comments on their own interest-based network.
What the virtual reality travel industry has in store?
Visit before you go!
A travel version similar to “try before you buy”, we hear in typical sales pitches. Similarly, it is difficult to sell a trip or holiday involving complex arguments and other communication discrepancies. Therefore, the virtual reality apps are here to cater everything for both the parties.
Seemingly, the purpose of virtual reality in the travel industry is to provide an immersive, engaging experience to the app users deciding to go on a vacation. In other words, tempting the clients to try before they go.
Consider the examples of The Grand Canyon Experience, Realities, Titans of Space 2.0, Everest VR, theBlu, etc. The powerful, VR-based technology when blended with photogrammetry and 360-degree video capture, creates stunning, realistic graphics, sound effects and interactive elements that allows the users to travel the world at the comfort of residing in their room.
The idea is to facilitate the customers with a better understanding of the traveling experience that awaits, without sugarcoating irrelevantly.
Experiencing the historical events firsthand could undoubtedly be an incredible experience. How about the prospect of travelling a bit further and recreating those events from the past?
Yes, VR has the ability for virtually transforming the past into reality!
A historical remaking doesn’t require VR in itself, but the period or event in VR will be a unique experience on its own, displaying a time-travel feel.
Travel to unreal places
The next level, game changing ways of incorporating AR/VR solutions in the travel or tourism industry actually have nothing to do with traveling at all. In other words, AR/VR holiday tours or vacations could be the next-big-thing in queue of the advancement in this technology.
Consider traveling into interstellar space, some region straight out of an artist’s fantasies, or even jumping on one of the alien-infested planets from the Halo’s game. For years such illustrations and graphics were only confined within the video games, animated movies, or simply, our imaginations.
However, today it is possible to make it happen with rich, in-depth level of immersion and engagement. For example, the movie “Total Recall”, and its idea of allowing users to experience real adventures gives us an insight.
Easier said than done, this is quite challenging and comes along with the concept per se. Unsurprisingly, the experience will be original and require a deeper level of expertise by the artists and other technical professionals for superior, never-seen-before conceptualization.
Trips to off-limit areas
Visiting off-limit places can be regarded as another variation of the historical remaking. Understandably, it makes perfect sense as there are no shortage of places on earth dangerous for human residence or hostile for their own existence in the presence of humans.
Another area that the virtual reality technology can probe given the length of potential and experiences in store.
The real test comes with the immersion factor. As the historical remaking suspends the tourists in some sort of action, the same concept isn’t applicable for off-limit places due to the reason that there is not much going on.
This brings the need to create new ways of indulging tourists in an experience, for example, Everest VR. Through advanced game engine and digital cartography, a huge database of more than 300,000 high resolution images of the mountain merge to create hyper realistic graphics for the user or tourist.
One of the best example of virtual reality travel apps, a thrilling experience of off-limit places in visiting the Khumbu icefalls, Lhotse face, Hillary step, and the ultimate stretch to the summit.
AR/VR in a museum experience
Museums and augmented reality is another obvious, natural blend. A match that is not difficult to imagine on how and where the technology can be incorporated for a digital museum experience.
We know that museums rarely present a professional guide or register a populated visitor base. Another concern is that museum tours are too general and quick without demanding much time and mental or emotional investment by the visitors. Foremost, augmented reality travel apps featuring museum tours can be a real eye catcher.
Consider the example of an AR app being tested by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. The app is intended to provide information support for the photographic items and in-depth insights related to important facts and historical background context. The idea is to help visitors acquire a better knowledge of visualized, past events.
As it stands, any VR-based app can elevate the holistic view of a museum tour and visitors can read and witness the art from new, fresher perspectives. Furthermore, digital recreations of artworks, or even VR-specific artwork, is definitely on the to-do list of the VR technology.
The future of augmented reality and virtual reality in tourism business still has a long way to go. While new people are aimed to expose to the technology with realistic, digital experiences. At the same time, the industry is presenting new, lucrative business models on to which the AR/VR technology can evolve and create newer features.
Imran Abdul Rauf is a Digital Marketing Strategist, employed at CMOLDS, and specializes in content marketing, email marketing campaigns, lead generation, and other aspects of digital marketing. A content enthusiast by the day, and hardcore gamer by night, Imran is also a regular guest contributor at some of the top tech and digital marketing platforms.