Virtual reality is exploding as a way to market and promote traveling to a certain destination. It offers immersive, 3-D experiences via videos and images with 360-degree perspectives. Furthermore, recently the possibility to watch VR videos online with a 360-degree view is presented in the online video channels like YouTube making it accessible to everyone. Unfortunately, it does not have the same engaging the mind effect because the surroundings still have an influence on person’s senses (“Travel Marketers Embrace Virtual Reality as the Next Big Thing | Notey,” 2015).
In order to reduce the perceived risks and possible obstacles, travelers are using various sources and channels to receive as much information about the destination as possible. The success and popularity of the VR reality is based on the effect they have on travelers’ minds. By experiencing the virtual reality, the potential visitor is getting the closest impression of a country before the actual trip (Hyun, 2009). In other words, this new method could be seen as a powerful decision making tool and will help DMOs to promote more extensively their destination by creating a memorable image in the visitors’ minds. Most of the people cannot afford to travel very often and choosing the right destination for their next holiday is very important, thus virtual reality could ensure that they are making the right choice (“Frequently Asked Questions About Virtual Reality—DMO Edition,” 2016).
The advantages of the VR reality were realized by the DMOs and in the past several years, they have started to utilize it as a compelling marketing asset. VR experiences empower travel marketers to transport potential guests to the destination, and they can experience activities, sceneries and get a taste for what it might be like to visit in person. Furthermore, VR experiences and 360-degree videos have a higher engagement rate when compared to traditional videos.
In 2015, Greenlight VR together with Touchstone Research evaluated the interest in this new technology. They found that 80 percent of the people who took the survey were familiar with the VR reality, giving the thumbs up to travel and destination marketers considering using a VR campaign. (“Case Study: What Do People Actually Think of Travel-Based Virtual Reality?,” 2016)
A great example for destination using the virtual reality for attracting and engaging potential visitor is Las Vegas. The Las Vegas CVA unveiled its 360-degree video and virtual reality app earlier this year. The DMO focused on highlighting interesting and provocative experiences to increase the interest around Las Vegas and drive more tourists. The Las Vegas Virtual Reality App, which is available for free in the app stores, takes viewers throughout Sin City, making it possible for everyone to get a feeling of the city’s spirit. Cathy Tull, the senior vice president for marketing at Las Vegas CVA, called virtual reality “the future of vacation planning”, and also said she believes VR inspires potential visitors to book trips (“6 VR-Forward Brands DMOs Can Learn From,” 2016).
Following the ongoing trends and investing in unique and innovative marketing campaigns is essential for a DMO in order to be seen as a source influencing people’s travel decisions. Virtual reality is the new marketing method used to engage potential visitors with the destination by creating awareness and affecting traveler’s intentions to book an actual trip. Furthermore, it will help the DMOs to better market their presence in the tourism industry, attract more visitors and generate future revisits.
6 VR-Forward Brands DMOs Can Learn From. (2016, July 16). Retrieved from http://blog.youvisit.com/6-vr-forward-brands-dmos-can-learn-from
Case Study: What Do People Actually Think of Travel-Based Virtual Reality? (2016, March 16). Retrieved from http://blog.youvisit.com/case-study-what-do-people-actually-think-of-travel-based-virtual-reality
Frequently Asked Questions About Virtual Reality—DMO Edition. (2016, June 14). Retrieved from http://blog.youvisit.com/frequently-asked-questions-about-virtual-reality-dmo-edition
Hyun, M. (2009). Mobile-mediated virtual experience in tourism: Concept, typology and applications (15). Journal of Vacation Marketing.
Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Consumer relationship management. United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.
Travel Marketers Embrace Virtual Reality as the Next Big Thing | Notey. (2015, December 17). Retrieved from http://www.notey.com/@skift_unofficial/external/7214631/travel-marketers-embrace-virtual-reality-as-the-next-big-thing.html