While VR Tourism isn’t a substitute to travel, the virtual reality technology gives people a new way to plan their trips. Immersive 360-degree content allows them to experience a bit of their holiday escapade, making them look forward to it even more.
The effect of using immersive 360-degree content in the tourism industry
The tourism industry is a part of the experience economy, meaning the income flows from the people who seek adventure, who want a personal and emotional connection with nature, and who want to create memories which they can treasure for a lifetime.
Now, almost everyone wants to get the most out of their hard-earned money. They want to make sure that a place is worth it before they book a tour.
Before, tourism businesses only need to show pictures and videos to communicate the travel experience in a certain place. With VR technology, they can immerse the consumer in a virtual environment that gives them a solid idea of what the place looks like in person. The accurate and realistic visuals evoke a sense of being there.
In short, VR technology gives a tourism business an ability to tease their customers, inviting them into a vacation they long for.
How that works
To understand why immersive 360-degree content is an effective marketing tool for the tourism industry, we have to see what happens inside our brains…
Imagine yourself wearing a powerful VR headset. A device like this is designed to fully immerse you in a photorealistic virtual environment so it looks real to you.
When you start looking at your surroundings, your mind drifts away from reality too. It’s either you think about past experiences (retrospection) or future plans (prospection). You recall the memories you had in that place or you create imagined futures.
Experts call it mind wandering.
When you are mind wandering while wearing a VR headset, your brain processes and assess the images you see via the same neural pathways used to process what you see in the real world. It is the reason why immersive 360-degree content triggers your emotions and feelings similar to what you gain in real life.
It proves that this immersive content allows a person to understand a place or event better compared to looking at pictures and watching videos.
Of course, the better the sensory stimulation and the imagery produced by the headset, the more authentic the VR experience will be. If you own a travel, tour, or accommodation business, it’s critical that you invest in high-quality hardware and content.
Tourism powered with virtual reality
Here’s how immersive 360-degree content affects every aspect of the tourism industry:
✅ It helps tourists choose a destination
One great example is Tourism Australia’s effort to make the country’s holiday destinations more popular to foreign and local tourists. Two years ago, they released immersive videos of each place. Here’s one of them:
After two years, Tourism Australia’s 360-degree videos have been viewed more than 10.5 million times.
In addition, their research suggests that almost 20% of consumers have already tried using VR to choose a holiday destination. Meanwhile, 25% plan to use this tech to plan their next trip.
Those numbers say that it is worth investing in VR videos.
✅ It allows people to view closed and protected areas
Because VR tech is so powerful and realistic, it can even remove the need to travel to one place, especially if that area is closed and protected.
You see, some popular holiday destinations close because of excessive tourism. (e.g. Thai authorities closed a part of their popular Maya beach to protect coral reefs). Virtual reality can be the people’s way to access these locations, without harming the environment. Also, it’s an alternate form of income for local people who lost their jobs due to site closure.
✅ It makes people understand history better
If you own a museum or if you offer tours to historical sites, historical recreations in VR fits your business well.
For example, the Australian War Memorial currently tells the story of the Battle of Hamel using 3D and immersive 360-degree content. Check it out:
✅ It helps people access remote wildlife areas before they get there
People who want to experience wildlife but feel unsafe and scared can use VR tech to prepare themselves for the adventure. The government can also use this material to remind tourists of regulations to follow and important information to remember. People recall information better when you use an immersive content.
Remind people to take a break
Using VR to advertise and market tourism reminds people to take a break from working and take a vacation. It prompts people to take care of their health and well-being.
The moment a person sees an immersive 360-degree content, he/she will experience a mix of emotions: relaxation, rejuvenation, surprise, excitement, and more.
The applications of VR in the tourism industry is not questionable. More and more people find it useful and enjoyable. Soon, more people will demand combined virtual and real world experiences. It will be a common feature in every holiday destination in the world.