03/29/2016 11:09 EDT | Updated 03/30/2017 05:12 EDT

Virtual Reality Is Set To Transform The Travel Industry


VR, or "virtual reality," is the new buzzword in technology and the travel industry may just be one of the first to bring this phenomenon into mainstream marketing. Who wouldn't want a "real life" experience in the Amazon before committing to a $10K-plus investment? As virtual reality becomes more and more accessible, companies like Marriott are diving right in.

In a recent article published by Bloomberg Business, Marriott is calling their VR experience "4-D" and creating one of the most innovative teleportation-like journeys in the industry. To create this experience, Marriott developed personalized "teleporter stations" as part of the hotel chain's Travel Brilliantly campaign. The stations allow the guest to enjoy a 360-degree virtual experience, including movement, wind, smells and sounds which feels like you traveled into another dimension without ever leaving.

When we asked Chris Bazos, Co-Founder & President of Travelous, a private tour company, what he thought of VR and how it's about to impact the future of travel, he was excited at the opportunity of how this would transform his industry.

Early adopters of airlines, hoteliers and tour companies like his realize its potential -- and the advantages to utilizing the immersive technology to stand out among other service providers. He believes VR is poised to enhance the overall travel booking process, by providing the ability to explore a location and virtually "try before you buy" it.

"No longer is it just about itineraries, bloggers, reviews, images and video. Anyone in travel right now should be rethinking their content strategy with VR in mind -- a very exciting time for the travel industry and travelers alike," says Chris.

According to Bloomberg, Thomas Cook, one of Europe's largest travel companies, went to Egypt to film the pyramids, six different hotel properties, and live-action biking on sand dunes. These videos will be used in their next marketing campaign where they will be utilizing Google Cardboard, an inexpensive VR player.

The players, along with 5,000 virtual brochures, will be mailed to their target audience, allowing the viewer to use their smartphones to enjoy custom-branded VR experiences via the downloadable app.

Shawn Smith, founder of nadaCliché -- what he calls "The Black Sheep Travel Blog" -- is no stranger to traipsing the globe and capturing the essence of resorts, hotels and tours to enhance their visual experience through marketing and communications.

Shawn is excited to embark on this new adventure in technology and creativity. Much like Bazos, he believes VR will play a major part in selling the experience.

"It is the next evolution of 3D tours for the hospitality industry, which can showcase their offerings in a more interactive fashion. Hate it or love it, it's gonna happen. As a traveller who strives to discover the underdogs in the hospitality industry, I think the technology can lend great support in opening people's eyes. Don't believe that this 3 star 5 bedroom boutique hotel is as luxurious as the 5 star hotel down the street? Well then...*hand over the VR headset*... see for yourself," says Smith.

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