Virtual reality and augmented reality will change the way we travel

Written on 7 November 2020

Never before has the tourism industry invested so much in innovation and technology to counter a crisis. This situation has accelerated the development and implementation of solutions that would otherwise have required years of experimentation. In particular, the use of virtual reality and augmented reality in tourism-related experiences is spreading rapidly, allowing professionals to create completely new, immersive, interactive, and exciting experiences for their clients. This is how these technologies are revolutionising the world of travel.

Thanks to virtual reality, you can explore distant destinations before investing in a trip

The Japanese call it “Paris syndrome”. This term refers to the disappointment – in some cases even trauma – experienced by those who arrive at their destination, on a long-planned and much needed holiday, to discover that the place they are visiting does not meet their expectations. The disappointment, in some cases, is so strong that they are forced to abandon the trip early. Of course, the spirit of any journey should be one of discovery and adventure, but there are also those who, having had to save for a long time to be able to afford a trip to a faraway destination, react rather badly when the experience does not live up to their expectations. Virtual reality completely revolutionises the concept of ” promotional material”, transcending multimedia and allowing the traveller to immerse themselves entirely in the place they are going to visit. This is especially true for destinations that require considerable investment or possibly for places that not everyone can visit due to objective risks or limits, such as Antarctica or the summit of Mount Everest. Some brands, such as the Qantas airlines, have already started to offer their customers virtual reality experiences to promote some tourist destinations.

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Augmented reality and the tourism industry

Virtual reality is just one of the technologies that promise to completely reshape the tourism industry and it is perhaps the easiest to imagine even for those who are less familiar with these topics. Among the innovations we should look at with interest, however, there is also augmented reality. This technology involves the overlaying of digital content onto a real landscape, through the use of common devices such as smartphones and tablets. The first applications in the tourism sector are extremely interesting. Apple, for instance, used this technology to introduce the “Flyover” mode on its maps, starting with the iOS 11 version. This feature allows users to explore cities in 3D, through a sort of 360° interactive video. Other companies have started to implement this technology in applications that allow, for example, to compare the size of your hand luggage with the size of the overhead locker of the plane you will be boarding, or to inspect your hotel room before you check in. Finally, there are apps, such as Wikitude, which make it easier to explore tourist destinations: all you need to do is point your smartphone around you to see the attractions, restaurants, or museums that you will encounter as you proceed in a certain direction.

Surprise your customers with new experiences

Travellers’ expectations are getting higher and higher and the tourism industry will have to find ways not only to meet them but to exceed them. Technologies such as virtual and augmented reality have the potential to change travel experiences radically, with great benefits for tourists, business travellers, and also for all industry professionals. This does not mean, of course, that we will just “travel” with technology, relying on virtual reality without leaving our home, but rather that we will use technology to make our travel experiences richer, safer, more accessible, and increasingly exciting.