Technology Virtual Reality In Travel – Should Your Hotel Embrace It? Laura Badiu // October 30, 2017 // 6 minute read When the Lumière brothers pioneered a little concept called cinematography, back in 1896, the moving image of a train arriving in a station was incredibly mind-blowing for people everywhere. It fact, it was so unbelievable that it is said the first audience ran away screaming from the theater because they felt like the train was coming right at them and they perceived it as a real danger. Fast forward more than a century and we are now running towards such concepts instead of away from them. Even the rise of 3D, once the movie Avatar aired, seems to be such a thing of the past, not to mention the first movie ever made. We are constantly looking for the new and exciting and there are very few things seem to impress us nowadays. Virtual reality, however, is one of them. Although it’s not a brand new concept anymore, VR has been raved about in these last few years and travel got its fair share of the hype. Starting with the basics, virtual reality is defined as “a way of replicating an environment that simulated the physical presence in a certain place, whether that place belongs in the real world or a fictional one”. It’s a highly visual way of experiencing settings and situations that in real life, could be harder to get to. Many say that hospitality is the perfect environment for the use of virtual reality and truth be told, most people are extremely responsive to visuals, especially when it comes to travel destinations and accommodations. Getting a sneak-peak into your dream vacation, without the actual commitment, is a great chance for travelers everywhere and an even greater marketing strategy for hoteliers. VR is in no way mandatory for hotels and it doesn’t seem like it will be, at least not in the near future, but it is one of those features that can spice up a guest’s journey and drive a higher level of popularity for a hotel, which can result in more bookings. This is why it is recommended to take advantage of this fairly innovative and creative branch of technology and adjust it to your hotel’s specific traits and possibilities. Both millennials and generation Z’ers can be considered a target-audience when it comes to the use of virtual reality in travel. Being born in the technological era, they naturally expect travel companies and their preferred hotels to keep up with technology and everything new and exciting that it has to offer. Making use of such a creative concept such as VR comes as a big plus in the eyes of these two generations and it a properly executed VR feature can drive them to book your hotel instead of any other one. Why? Because, first of all, you are taking a chance and you go the extra mile for your guests and potential guests. It shows that you care about making their experience amazing and you also give them the chance of testing the water before actually staying at the hotel. Which only shows that you, as a hotelier, are confident that your hotel has a lot to offer and you are willing to invest a bit more into a business that you constantly improve and adjust to newer generations. Also, virtual reality is almost a dream within a dream. For the average person, planning a vacation is already a dream come true. It might be that one time a year when Joe, the ambitious student, takes a break. It can be the perfect occasion for Ana, the busy lawyer, to spend time away with her family. Or Mike’s perfect excuse of getting away from his, during the stressful holidays. You get the point. When someone sets their mind on a vacation, this is the first step into making a dream come true. Between this and the actual vacation though, there can sometimes be a pretty big leap of insecurities. Did I choose the right destination? Is this hotel right for me? Will this vacation fulfill all of my expectations? These are questions that everyone has before packing their bags and starting their journey. And this is exactly where virtual reality can take the spotlight and work its magic. The dream within a dream. VR might still appear as a slightly futuristic concept, but the good news for the travel industry is that, as any other surfacing technology, after the initial boom, the costs for it are lowering. Cameras that enable users to generate their own VR videos are becoming more affordable and easier to get a hold of. For hoteliers, this means that you can take your marketing strategy to a whole new level, using more than the traditional means, such as advertising and campaigning. There has never been a better and more effective way of awaking that wanderlust in travelers such as virtual reality. Giving tourists a taste of what they can experience if they book a stay at your hotel will feel more real than ever in the nearby future. Hotels will be able to provide a teaser of the accommodation, the rooms, the location, the beautiful beaches or pool areas, the breathtaking views, anything that can be visually striking for potential guests and could drive them to book the hotel. Whether you have your mind set on VR or you are just testing the waters to see what it can do to your hotel’s success rate and popularity among travelers, this is definitely a topic worth the while. Creativity is the only limit and technology is coming out every day with new and exciting ways of enhancing countless experiences, so why not make the most out of it?