Although virtual reality will never replace traditional travel, it still offers intriguing possibilities. And if the technology becomes sophisticated enough, more environmentally conscious people may choose this form of escape.
VR travel could bring people to otherwise inaccessible places. Discover landmarks, cultural epicentres, and new perspectives on the world while at home. Here is a sneak peek into the VR technological innovations happening today.
Digital tools and exciting content have helped travel and tourism industries increase their reach in the last few decades. When people create their next holiday or a destination wish list, digital tools and content are a vital source of information today.
The advent of virtual and mixed reality (AR, VR, MR) could change everything. Its human-centric design draws insights from cognitive behaviour, social psychology, neuroscience and behavioural economics — applied with cutting edge technologies. It can enable a seamless, uninterrupted interactive experience for viewers from their own private space. A frictionless digital user experience is created through the design principles and a positive perception of a tourist destination is forged.
Previous attempts have been made to accomplish this, including Mission 828, which allows you to take a virtual parachute jump from the world’s tallest building, and a documentary exploring the Great Barrier Reef, where travellers see under the Pacific Ocean and the biodiversity of the reef through an interactive website.
Shortly, you could view holiday sites in a video or through self-navigation via voice commands or joysticks, interact with others via video-calling platforms, travel through the streets of said location, listen to local music and more.
These could be stitched together in a single platform linked to the internet, enhanced by physical experience tourism centres in localised regions. For example, tourist guides, craftspeople, hoteliers, and transport businesses could create their own digital and virtual offerings and interact with possible customers.
This kind of scenario might play out: a holidaymaker starts their experience when their flight begins. The plane descends to the destination runway and pictures are captured from the aircraft window pane. Signage greets passengers when they arrive at the airport, and directs them to a pre-booked taxi.
The holiday-maker gets to choose their favourite destination and then travels through the streets in a chauffeur-driven car where their experiences become cherished memories. The tourist guide takes you through the destination with just the tap of your device. You take photos to post on social media, go shopping and negotiate with a local vendor to purchase an artwork, which will be delivered to your home.
It could even allow people to travel to the South Pole and further afield. It could also serve as a learning portal for students to learn more about culture, geography, art, and history.
Three of the four experience constructs, namely entertainment, aesthetics, and escapism, positively related to satisfaction, which leads to participants’ intention to visit the virtual destinations. In addition to supporting virtual tours as a marketing strategy for tourism destinations, this finding emphasizes the importance of immersion and entertainment effects when presenting virtual content.
As a result, virtual tour providers or tourism marketers can better understand customer perspectives, while virtual tourists can enjoy the tour, and enjoy immersion in a temporary escape environment, leading to an awesome virtual tour.
And virtual tours can be a “new reality” in case of any new lockdown or some ecological catastrophe. Let’s hope that the world will always enjoy real travel without any limits but with the additional support of VR and other new technologies.