Because there is only so much that photos or videos can say, the future of selling travel is highly likely to be enhanced by experiences in virtual reality.
Online behemoths, Expedia are currently developing ‘virtual reality listings’, which will make it possible for those with access to a VR headset at home to get a better sense of what a hotel room, or even a cruise ship, will look like when one embarks on a real-life excursion.
According to sources, the new VR service currently being trialled in the U.S will be rolled out globally cross all Expedia, hotels.com and Trivago sites “very soon”.
In a recent demo, Expedia showed that potential travellers were also able to interact with their surroundings in virtual reality, such as opening sliding doors and stepping out onto a hotel balcony.
“If you’re going to make the decision of booking a cruise, wouldn’t it be cool if you could check out the ship virtually before you spend that much money?”
Arthur Chapin, Expedia’s Senior Vice President, Product and Design
VR will “Change the way people make their booking decisions, allowing users to virtually step into a hotel room and view its features”, he said at the company’s new innovation lab facility.
Expedia is also looking into smart voice devices like Amazon’s Echo to see how they could be used to help in the travel booking process. The Amazon Echo is a home based device that let’s you voice control all your devices and stream music and content thought the speaker. The device could also be used to voice activate your travel requests via Expedia.
“I think voice is something that will become a part of how people interact with travel,” said Mr Chapin.
“So we’re continuing to experiment with voice, and chatbots – not only on the consumer side but also on the partner side, so our hotel clients can interact with us through such chats.”
Expedia, who spent more than $1 billion investing in technology last year, says it is crucial to do so because it would otherwise be “very hard to keep up.”
“We are always investing in research and various different pieces of technology and why we do that is…when you look at disruptive products, they tend to start slow then all of a sudden disruption hits. If you’re not already thinking about it, it can be very hard to keep up,” Mr Chapin explains.
Could Travel Agency groups go the same way? The technology is there for everyone to use, the question is, will there be an appetite for it in Australia and beyond? Already we’ve seen its take up in the U.S. Read more about that here.
Flight Centre too have already embarked on a mission to embrace Virtual Reality. Read about it here.
What do you think? Will Virtual Reality permeate more Travel Agency groups in Australia as a big thing?
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