VR (Virtual Reality) technology has made some huge leaps and bounds in the last couple of years, and as it becomes more mainstream the travel industry is using it to give people a taste of globetrotting without ever leaving their couch. What exactly does that look like though? Are we all going to give up catching planes and instead take virtual holidays one day?
What is virtual travel?
Virtual travel, also known as a virtual tour, is a simulation of an existing location using sound effects, narration, images, video, text or music to immerse the user in a vacation like experience. Accessed through a VR headset or multimedia spaces with moving parts and body sensors, virtual holidays are being used to test flights, get a taste of adventure sports and see iconic monuments and destinations.
It’s going to go BIG
With more and more people able to access VR experiences through their mobiles (don’t act like you’ve already forgotten Pokémon Go) it’s little surprise that the future in this field is going to go next level. Market leaders all across the globe have invested heavily to offer people the chance to sample their wares and escape the everyday, with researchers from Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) finding two out of three US travellers say they’d be influenced by VR experiences.
Virgin Holidays are already using VR to let customers ‘try before they buy’, letting them walks the ruins of Tulum and watch the sunset in Mexico.
Big rig Facebook have also announced plans to expand their VR offerings with the Oculus Rift headset. Zuckerberg himself told followers that the future of VR is exciting, ‘It will be pretty wild. Just like we capture photos and videos today and then share them on the Internet to let others experience them too, we’ll be able to capture whole 3D scenes and create new environments and then share those with people as well.’
Google Earth unveiled a new Voyager feature this year that shows some of the world’s greatest sights that many people would never get to see even if they went there, such as their series ‘Land Art From Above’.
Can virtual travel replace IRL experiences?
While we can’t envision how sophisticated the technology may get, can it ever truly replicate the experiences we get while travelling? Probably not. After all, you can’t fake the life-long friendships you’ll make, the joy of slipping into the shower after a long haul flight, or the taste of a Pisco Sour the night before you start hiking the Inca Trail.
Of course, the aim of virtual travel is not to replace real-life holidays, but rather enhance the experience and promote tourism to destinations people may not know too much about. “It allows you to quickly experience things that would otherwise take you weeks to research … It’s kind of like teleporting yourself into an experience, and it’s a great way to make a shortlist for your trip,” CEO of Wemersive, Richard Broo explains.
With that in mind, why wouldn’t you indulge in some high-tech travel porn and make trip planning even more fun?!
Let us know what you think of virtual travel below 👇