Travel and Virtual Reality – Will they go hand in hand ?

Travel and Virtual Reality – Will they go hand in hand ?

She stood on the edge of a cliff in some remote part of Costa Rica. She looks around in awe, swiveling her head in all directions, at the enthralling beauty of nature around her. She could see the birds flying and waves crashing on the rocks below. It was a sight to die for. She smiles and says, “This place is so beautiful. Please get me a 7N tour package for Costa Rica” as she removes the Oculus Rift headset she was wearing.

She was never there physically. She was miles away, on the other side of the globe, in a Travel Agency’s office where she was trying out the demo of the new Virtual Reality technology that can place a person in an exotic location.

This is the future of traveling. The technology that is going to transform traveling in the years to come.

It is great to go places and it is also great to sit in your couch and let virtual reality transport you to your destination. That is exactly what the tourism industry is doing now. They are targeting the next-gen travelers with a ‘Fly before you Buy’ offer where they provide people with the life like immersive experience with the VR tech. People can do a beta testing of the place they want to visit before actually booking the tour package.

The technology is still in it’s making with virtual travel quite far away from being mainstream. Travel brands are still figuring out the best way to reproduce the best immersive content for the ideal user experience. Today’s brand of VR headsets and the fragmented VR ecosystem are not able to provide the seamless and engaging experience despite the excessive supply of content. But this technology can be a good marketing strategy for tourism brands and the ones who provide this technology can make millions.

With the popular Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus, the future of VR seems bright. With a High Quality 3D display these VR headsets can immerse you in a tropical village in SE Asia minus the bugs and heat and you can also navigate around using a remote controller. Combined with a gyroscope, compass and accelerometer, these headsets can give you a lifelike experience.

But will such VR glimpses inspire someone to get off the couch and travel. Well that we will know with time as the technology develops. I do believe this technology can help people with disabilities and health conditions to have a glimpse of the world outside.

But I also visualize is a scary world in the distant future, where there are weatherproof solar-powered robots and drones fitted with 4K 360 deg cameras, buzzing around the world operated by people with VR headsets and controllers. Will the next gen travelers travel the world sitting on the couch munching on pringles. Maybe that is too far but I would love to see an episode in the next season of ‘Black Mirror‘ that uses this concept.

 

“Costa Rica has always been a dream destination for me…..It felt like I was really there. The experience was much more than I imagined.”, She said.

 

89 thoughts on “Travel and Virtual Reality – Will they go hand in hand ?

  1. Intriguing Gokul. I saw a mean-looking aka cool-looking virtual reality set up at a mall in Thailand last month. The wave of the future in many waves but I prefer the real thing. Makes for better Instagramming 😉 Thanks for sharing.

    Ryan

  2. Virtual Reality is an amazing and futuristic concept that is just waiting to happen. Travel is definitely one area that it has great potential. Giving a slice of the actual experience is going to be a great tool to entice customers to destinations. Not that it will ever replace the REAL experience, though.

  3. I am not really sure. I may be old fashioned but I do not really want too many gizmos between me and a good place. Photographs are enough to provide a feel of a place and make one decide IMO.

  4. I’ve tried virtual reality once but it wasn’t a nice to thing to experience. It was about factory animals getting slaughtered. But the virtual reality definitely made the experience so much more real and powerful.

  5. It is such an intriguing concept but I doubt that it can replace the real thing. The truth about travel is that it helps you see the differences in your perception and that of others. With VR you see the world through someone else’s eyes and not your own.

    1. Yes, you need someone to shoot a 360 deg videos but I am sure in the future people will be able to navigate around with the help of drones.

  6. I love such blogs which foretell about the tourism industry. In my opinion and according to various reports, VR will have its uses in many industries, tourism being one of them. Thanks for the blog post. It was an interesting read and yes i wish to visit Costa Rica without the VR!

  7. Interesting point, not sure about the whole idea of VR related to travelling tough but it might catch on. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Who thought in the 90s that one day smartphones and internet will rule our life. You never know mate how the world changes in front of you.

  8. Interesting concept, but I don’t think this could replace the feeling of being in a place physically. Maybe this sounds like an old school concept but still holds true for me.

    1. Not old school to be precise. It is about convenience. There are people who don’t travel because of all the hassle that is involved. This is actually a good option for people like this.

  9. WOW! This looks really interesting. Had heard of VR before for attending conferences and launches. But travel!?! Its a great option for people who cannot travel for whatever reason or wish to experience a place before actually visiting. For me I’d prefer real travel and the experiences it brings:)

  10. interesting topic! I never tried virtual reality, but I can totally imagine that this is how it could work. That or people feel they can enjoy travel from their own couch 😉
    However, I think I don’t I would like the ‘spoiler alert’ before booking a trip. Surprise is part of the experience as well right?

    1. Sure it is. VR will not give away the experiences you will have. It only gives you an overview…like part of the research you usually do when you visit a place.

  11. Very interesting glimpse into the future of travel. Not sure I am ready for it yet, I still would rather read about places on the internet or books to wet my appetite to visit places. Maybe when I get too old to actually travel then VR would be great.

  12. so interesting to see this! VR is great – and a terrific way to figure out if you want to visit a place. But i can’t imagine it will ever substitute for the real thing

  13. Wow, these VR headsets will completely change how we choose our holidays and destinations! Or maybe just decide to stay at home and enjoy the destinations from the comfort of out homes!

  14. Indeed! This technology is a good marketing strategy for tourism. I would love to have one. It would be inspiring to travel more seeing those destinations in virtual reality.

  15. “Minus the bugs and heat”.

    Then it’s not really life-like, is it? 🙂 As someone mentioned above, this has its uses for marketing, but it’s still a bit of a stretch for me. (I guess I’m just getting old. 🙂 )

    1. It is not. You can’t feel the breeze or the sun on your face but brands are working on it. I read somewhere about a studio that provides all these effects along with the VR experience.

  16. I can see the appeal and potential of virtual reality – but I don’t think I could ever accept it over real travel! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  17. Nothing will ever replace the excitement of actually visiting a place but what a great idea for travel agencies to use them. If I was still an agent I would be trying it on my clients for sure.

  18. This is awesome but also worriesome. VR has its uses in entertainment, but I would probably look
    and feel like a robot wearing one of thoe contraptions all the time. ) 🙂

  19. Interesting concept I guess much like that Arnold Schwartznagger movie of the 80’s where they pay to go on a virtual holiday. I guess it has its value as try before you buy destination guide

  20. The idea is interesting and VR is incredible technology, but don’t you think it kind of takes away that excitement of discovering a new place? The very thing that drives wanderlust is replaced by an imitation, which dampens the level of amazement when you eventually arrive.

  21. VR is incredible technology, and whilst it will never replace the realities of travel, I think it will allow those who are physically or financially unable to travel, the opportunity to ‘see’ parts of the world they otherwise never could.

  22. Hmm! Interesting. I knew about VR and tourism but never thought this way. In fact, your article has put me to many thoughts now. I personally feel VR can never replace the real fun of exploring the place but simultaneously this is going to be helpful for the tour operators to convince people and especially for the people who can’t travel.

  23. I don’t know. Maybe the girl of the story was “seeing” Costa Rica but she was not smelling Costa Rica, “tasting” Costa Rica or meeting its people. Maybe it can work for some people but I think they won’t sell to many backpackers with it. Well, that’s my opinion!

    1. That is true but if you go through it then you will realize that she is just doing a trial of the place she wants to visit. That is actually a good marketing strategy.

  24. This is such a cool concept! I’d imagine it’d be great for people with physical disabilities where taking a plane and traveling may not be the most convenient. Although I still believe traveling is all about experiencing the world with your five senses. Not much to experience if you’re just looking at the world through a VR headset.

  25. Really is a very interesting concept to see how this will revolutionalize the travel experience – whether it will inspire people to get off their couch, or turn us all into couch potatoes who don’t feel the need to go through all the hassle of transit because we can experience the world from the comfort of home. Will be interesting to watch as the travel industry evolves alongside technology.

  26. We dunno; the idea seems radical but a bit strange. Personally , we would rather go to the actual place and have actual experiences.

    However, VR technology has an excellent potential in a country’s tourism industry. It can be a great medium of promoting the country’s destinations, allowing people to have a better, more realistic, and more interactive glimpse of what to expect.

  27. Very interesting concept especially on what you posted here like this VR technology can help people with disabilities and health conditions to have a glimpse of the world outside. That is just simply amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  28. It seems like a very interesting concept to introduce virtual reality in traveling. It sounds new to me and very amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  29. I was tried to explore Guatemala with this tool, but I was nauseated by it. I m glad you liked the experience. Sounds like a great adventure, but I dont think you can compare it to seeing the place with your own eyes.

  30. So people who aren’t able to travel because of their commitments can finally experience the fun! But still I am old school and would rather like exploring the place by being there rather than enjoying with this tool. I think it has great potential though!

  31. My gut reaction is a hopeful no. I think VR is brilliant but if it were to replace actually going somewhere, I would not like that. But it’s a cool way of seeing a destination before actually going. On the plus side, it may thin out the crowds at popular locations.

  32. It sounds like the Matrix. I think there will be a market for virtual reality travel. It’s inevitable; it’s cost effective and can open experience for people that cannot otherwise afford to travel. Sports arenas/teams are already trying it out. I just worry that people won’t go out anymore or try to explore the real thing. But could just be my preference to have the real travel experience.

  33. A very interesting article that really looks at the future of travel and how it can make the world
    even smaller than it has already become. However as you pointed out there is a difference from experiencing a place in reality as compared to “virtual reality”. No one knows that the next
    trend will be, but VR is here to stay for a while and should be interesting.

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