Virtual Reality (VR) is slated to be the most dramatic technological revolution since the mobile phone came along. And it’s already making huge inroads, especially in gaming, education, medicine and as a new frontier of entertainment.
2016 is witnessing a rapid acceleration of consumer product launches in the VR space. Facebook’s Oculus, and HTC both have very high profile VR headsets ready for purchase. Samsung’s Gear VR is being given away free with the purchase of a smartphone in many markets. And an ever growing number of exciting new challengers from China, Europe and the US produce affordable headsets which users can simply place their smartphone inside to experience virtual reality content.
The availability of VR platforms is growing equally quickly. Youtube 360, Facebook 360 and Oculus are just a few of the players in the West. Youku, IQIYI, Tencent and Huawei are major players in China. And all can already (or will soon be able to) stream virtual reality content to desktops, mobile phones and VR headsets.
So how is all this relevant to the travel industry? Because, for the first time ever, VR is allowing us to give travelers a fully immersive ‘real’ experience of a destination, hotel, resort or activity before they make their buying decision.
The best VR is now so engaging and convincing that it completely blows people away as soon as they experience it - they can hardly believe their eyes, as you can see from the expression on their faces! And if you can combine this level of ‘reality’ with a compelling narrative you are absolutely guaranteed your audience’s complete and undistracted attention - something no other experience or media can give you. VR can present locations, experiences and accommodation in a way that’s so engaging, so real and so desirable that anyone who sees it feels virtually compelled to continue the journey in the real world, and book that ticket!
This is unquestionably the technology of the future for our industry. So how should you go about telling your story in VR?
As with all new technologies, there is a growing market of suppliers who can help. Professional VR studios, such as the one we’ve opened at Zanadu, combine the talents of highly experienced directors, producers and crews with new 360 cameras, binaural sound recording, and highly specialized post-production techniques. Pre-production, shooting and post-production are all much more intensive and demanding than traditional filmmaking. And working in a 360 frame takes an entirely new kind of storytelling. So if you plan to get started, then don't compromise on your production quality.
VR is undoubtedly a challenging new frontier for the travel industry. But the opportunities are immense, and the early successes have already shown the impact this exciting technology can make for those with the vision to explore it early.