VR In The Travel Industry
In November 2018 Royal Caribbean Cruises launched their brand new ship, the Celebrity Edge. As well as offering customers “modern luxury” on the high seas, Royal Caribbean has also released an app which allows them to explore the ship from the comfort of their cabin. The app, produced by Trigger Global, has AR and 360 video to provide a comprehensive “tour” of the ship, from the galley to the bridge. East City partnered with Trigger and Royal Caribbean to create the 360 video for the app, and it gave us pause to look at how the tourism industry is using VR in 2019.
Royal Caribbean Cruises themselves are not new to VR. In 2018 they created a VR experience to showcase their new private island CocoCay which is not yet ready for visitors. Part of Royal Caribbean’s new Perfect Day Island Collection, CocoCay will take pride of place on the cruise’s itinerary, providing a 135 foot waterslide, the Thrill Waterpark, a 1,600 foot zip line, a helium balloon ride, swimming pools, beaches, bars and cabanas. But the catch is, none of this is ready yet, so a helium ballon ride, VR experience has been created to market this incredible holiday from a relatively accessible home in New York.
”Immerse yourself in Australia's Aquatic & Coastal 360 experiences, to feel what it's like to be in Australia. Because Australia isn’t just a place you see, it’s a place you feel”. 360 videos created by Tourism Australia have been viewed over 2 million time on YouTube and give tourists a taste of Sydney Harbour, Whitehaven Beach and the Great Barrier Reef.
The international hotel chain took the slightly surprising route of creating travel VR Postcards and leaving headsets in their hotel rooms. So for example in your hotel in New York City, the customer could put on a VR headset and be transported to Peru. This clever stunt led to 51% of the people who did the VR experience saying they wanted to stay in a Marriott Hotel more often.
In 2018 Luftansa launched their in-flight VR experience on the Frankfurt to Dubai flight. With the VR Moving Map passengers are able to view the moving landscape below them as a 3D map and even take part in a selection of 360-degree virtual excursions. As the aircraft flies over Vienna, some passengers virtually rode the Prater Ferris Wheel or even had the chance to virtually attend one of the city’s famous classical concerts. Paul Schön, Passenger Experience Designer for Lufthansa said: "VR is a growing trend for destination experiences and we wanted to help inspire our passengers while they were in the sky. The Frankfurt to Dubai flight was a first-time test for our new VR prototype, which was designed to further enhance the passenger experience. I’m pleased to say this virtual exploration trip was very positively received by the participating passengers.”
The high street travel agent was one of the first in the tourism industry with their Try Before You Fly experiences. By putting VR headsets in their branches they were able to “take” potential customers on their proposed holiday before setting foot on the plane. The result was a 180% uplift in bookings to New York.
The online travel agent has cracked it, offering customers the Virtual Holiday. Offering people “sight, sound, taste, smell and even touch”; airport queues, selfie-stick tourists and dodgy foreign food can be avoided from the comfort of your own home. It’s to be seen to be believed. Really, it is.