Tourists visiting Lake Tahoe using virtual reality

8 Amazing Uses For Virtual Reality In Tourism

Virtual reality (VR) has become increasingly popular in the tourism industry. People experience a destination without leaving their homes, which assists with pre-travel research and saves time and money.

VR technology is rapidly evolving and offers various uses in the world of travel. This guide looks at various creative applications for virtual reality in tourism.

VR applications in tourism

1. Virtual Tours at home

The most popular use for virtual reality in tourism is virtual tours. Travelers can pop on a headset and explore destinations before they set foot there. Potential destinations can be shortlisted, and there’s less risk of disappointment.

Visiting the Colosseum using virtual reality
See iconic tourist spots from your own lounge.

2. Virtual tours on location

Innovative tour operators have discovered that VR can greatly enhance their real-world offerings. Virtual content can take learning to a new level. For example, there are now bus tours in Rome with screens on the windows. This tech allows tourists to see the current Rome, then VR screens will enable them to see life in Ancient times.

A bus in Rome offering virtual reality tours through the city
VR takes traditional tourism to a new level.

VR walkaround tours are also becoming more prevalent in touristy areas. It is a handy solution for people that enjoy learning about a destination without the help of a guide.   

3. Location Scouting

Tourist operators can plan trips abroad in detail with the assistance of VR. Scouting potential locations is easy, saving time and money when making final arrangements for trips or tours.

4. Advertising

VR opens up exciting new options for marketing teams. Creating experiences for anyone in pre-travel research mode will increase sales conversions. Tour operators offering high-end experiences have already taken advantage of VR to entice new customers. You Visit NYC by helicopter has put the spotlight on seeing the Big Apple from above.

Setting up VR booths at travel expos and trade shows has provided some businesses with an impressive return on investment. Even tourism boards for entire countries are realizing that virtual demonstrations offer a compelling sales tactic.

5. Training

Tourist operators are using virtual reality as a tool for training staff members. It helps explain best practices for interacting with guests at specific resorts or hotels. Practicing how to deal with unhappy customers is another useful training application.

6. Interactive maps

Interactive 3D maps allow travelers to explore almost any destination on planet earth. They are beneficial when planning a trip because they can help find attractions, restaurants, hotels, and other places of interest.

7. Customized experiences

VR technology can create customized experiences explicitly tailored to an individual. If someone wanted a whirlwind tour of London’s historical sites, they could use VR to create an itinerary that fits their schedule perfectly.

8. Accessible tourism

Virtual reality allows those with physical and mental restrictions to explore the world in new ways. For operators in the tourism industry, this uncovers new opportunities for creating engaging content targeting this customer.

A man in a wheelchair using virtual reality to visit a tropical beach on a sunny day
VR has endless ways to help people with accessibility restrictions.

What is virtual tourism?

Virtual tourism is an online experience where travelers can explore destinations and attractions at home. Depending on the tour and hardware used, people can view video with 360-degree views, take guided audio tours and enjoy immersive experiences. Online travel agents are increasingly offering virtual tours as a way for customers to plan their trips more informedly.

Although VR is often viewed through a special headset, it isn’t a requirement in travel. People can also view content using their mobile device, television, or desktop computer.

Check out the guided tour of Venice below, which allows you to adjust the view in either direction.

The benefits of VR for senior citizens

Many senior citizens don’t have the physical ability or financial means to travel to faraway places. But with virtual reality, they can get a taste of what it’s like to explore different countries and cultures. This is especially beneficial for those who suffer from mobility issues or other medical conditions that may limit their ability to get around.

VR helps keep the elderly mentally active by engaging them in new and interesting activities that stimulate the brain.

Disadvantages of VR

There are certain drawbacks associated with using this technology for travel.

  • Too much knowledge: While it’s good to prepare when traveling to new places, there’s also a level of excitement in not knowing what is around the corner. Intrepid travelers will argue that VR takes the fun out of the trip.
  • Poor user experience: VR headsets can be bulky and uncomfortable; wearing them for too long can cause motion sickness.
  • Technical difficulties: As with any new tech, teething issues like screen lag, latency, and poor internet speeds can ruin the entire experience. 
  • Investment for operators: Headsets, software, and accessories may be a costly upfront investment for tourism businesses. Operators looking to produce ongoing content will have an additional expense that can quickly mount up.
  • Lack of real interaction: There is currently no substitute for the real thing. VR needs more work before it can come close to actually replacing a holiday. 

What is monoscopic and stereoscopic VR?

Monoscopic and stereoscopic are two types of virtual reality technology that use different approaches to create a simulated 3D environment.

Monoscopic VR uses a single image displayed across both eyes, creating an illusion of depth. It doesn’t provide the same level of realism as stereoscopic VR.

Monoscopic VR was used in some video games and virtual tours, but its applications are limited due to its lower level of realism.

Stereoscopic VR works by projecting two separate images onto each eye that create a more realistic view. It allows users to see objects in greater detail and even simulate changes in perspective when they move their heads around or view something from different angles.

Stereoscopic VR offers the gold standard for creating immersive experiences due to its higher level of realism. 

Monoscopic pros

  • Relatively low cost
  • Low power requirements
  • Easy to setup and use

Monoscopic cons

  • Lower-quality graphics
  • Less realistic experiences
  • Limited applications due to a lack of depth perception 

Stereoscopic pros

  • High-quality graphics with a greater sense of realism 
  • Use for high-quality gaming and simulations 
  • Greater range applications  

Stereoscopic cons

  • Relatively high cost 
  • Higher power requirements 
  • Often more complicated to setup and use

How to create a successful virtual tour

Creating a successful virtual tour requires careful planning and attention to detail. Here is what you should keep in mind:

  1. Content – Your content should be informative yet engaging; try using high-quality images and videos that showcase all aspects of your destination’s attractions, such as landmarks, points of interest, and natural scenery. Consider including audio commentary to provide a more immersive and valuable tour.
  2. Layout – Think about how you can best lay out your tour so tourists aren’t confused. Provide clear directions so they know where they’re going next, such as ‘click on this icon to continue onto the next scene.’ If you’re using a 360-degree view option, ensure that each scene transitions smoothly so viewers aren’t confused or disorientated during their journey.
  3. Navigation tools – Always provide navigation tools such as zoom features or hotspots, allowing users to quickly jump between different scenes within your tour.

Tips for offering VR tours and experiences

While offering VR experiences may initially seem intimidating, some simple steps will ensure your customers enjoy the experience.

  • Check all hardware is up-to-date and compatible with the latest software version.
  • Offer tutorials or other help material so people new to using VR know what they’re doing.
  • Ensure that all content is appropriate for all ages.
  • Ask for feedback after each activity to improve over time.
  • Test products beforehand so that everything runs smoothly.
  • Provide support staff knowledgeable in technology and tourism so they can answer any questions.
  • Use analytics tools such as heat maps or eye-tracking software to gain insight into how customers interact with content.
  • Always keep safety top-of-mind, providing clear instructions are considering any risk factors well in advance.

What is the best use for AR in tourism

Interactive maps have massive potential for the travel industry. By overlaying images, text, and videos on top of real-world environments, visitors get insight into local attractions, sports stadiums, restaurants, shops, hospitals, and more.

Using augmented reality with a device to find places of interest
AR is a huge help navigating new cities.

Final words

VR could provide a big tourism shakeup in the coming years. It has numerous uses, from virtual tours and interactive maps to immersive experiences and customized itineraries. Combined with augmented reality, travel will be much easier and more enjoyable.

Virtual reality has added benefits beyond the obvious ones. Virtual travel is sustainable, accessible, and low-cost. These advantages will appeal to specific demographics outside mainstream audiences.

Business owners, managers, and marketing professionals should closely monitor the VR space. It could provide the competitive edge needed to increase sales to new levels in a highly competitive area.

If you enjoyed this resource, be sure to read how VR is being used in education or some creative applications for VR in real estate.

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