Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that offers benefits to any industry where a full sensory experience can help consumers hear, taste, smell and see what they can expect from a brand or purchasing decision. Of course, it works more effectively in some industries than in others. The travel industry is particularly well suited to this form of digital marketing.

Travel companies such as Lufthansa and Contiki are already using VR to ensure that their brands stand out in a fiercely competitive industry where traditional methods of advertising no longer always suffice.

The Lufthansa Group used VR in its summer campaign. For Lufthansa it’s about thinking and acting strategically to gain top-of-mind awareness – particularly among travel agents, the airline’s largest distribution channel.

Lufthansa’s agency, Artifact, developed a 360-degree app for travel agents that “takes them around the world” by combining the use of VR with Google Street View. The app, which is called “Guesstinations”, works by showing users various possible locations within the Lufthansa group’s network in an interactive quiz-type format. Agents “land” in a destination and must use landmarks to guess where in the world they are. Prizes and incentives are included to keep engagement at an optimal level.

Contiki, a travel brand for 18 to 35-year-olds, is also embracing VR technology by means of a VR headset, which provides prospective travellers with an opportunity to step beyond the pages of a brochure and get a true taste of the travel experience.

“Contiki has been using VR for some time now,” says Kelly Jackson, general manager of Contiki in SA. “In 2014 we identified the technology as a new, exciting and completely immersive way to show product offering at trade shows. That’s where the idea started. And as with any innovative idea, it evolved into something bigger.”

She says that when planning a holiday, it’s a given that your imagination kicks in. “You can picture yourself at a particular destination or within a certain travel context,” she says. “The difference now is that we are giving travellers the opportunity to truly envision a travel adventure. The VR gear helps us tell our story and paint the picture of a destination.”

Video content was created by the global Contiki team. The result, says Jackson, is an authentic and engaging way of allowing travellers to experience the destinations they can visit, before they book an adventure.

The big take-out: VR is particularly well suited to the travel industry as it allows travel companies and airlines to sell an experience while at the same giving potential travellers a taste of the holiday before they commit to booking.

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