The world is changing all around us and we are bound to notice. From disappearing landscapes to the rapid influx of new technology, everything matters in this digital age of our globalised world. Information about the digital marketing tools from only a few years old is severely outdated due to the rapid developments that are being made. Tour operators should have become aware that addressing only one of the three arenas (physical, digital and social) will not be enough anymore and that it should all be well integrated. Their marketing needs to be coherent and companies should quickly adjust to trends, especially in the digital arena that is.
The major effects of our ‘revolutionary’ marketing trends in the tourism industry have already been predicted for a while, yet implementation has been fairly low. According to Peelen and Beltman in 2013, the customer experience could still be enhanced by combining the physical and virtual arena. This is exactly what the most influential marketing tool of nowadays; virtual reality, sounds like. Experiencing a destination from the comfort of your own couch is no longer impossible and this flexibility has created a wide spectrum of possibilities for marketers.
It is known that certain companies have already implemented virtual reality, forexample in their physical stores or by promoting themselves online via 360 degrees’ videos. However, to gain such material, large investments are needed since the equipment is not something that is being mass produced yet and therefore does not come cheap. However, this is not the only complication with generating marketing content via virtual reality. Original or creative input, together with an experienced VR team are needed to realize truly interesting content according to (Jelsma, 2017). He also claims that there is no virtual reality application available that generates enough return on investment yet. Therefore, most smaller tour operators will be anticipating further developments a bit longer.
However, there are enough alternatives within the virtual reality that can be used by the smaller companies. Creating VR content is expensive, yet there is not always the need to create new content. Van den Berg (2017) uses the content google puts out as an example; High quality 360 degrees’ photo and videos, which can be viewed for free by everyone around the world. Integrating this content with your website is easy to do and free when done correctly. Whether the customer looks at a 360 degrees’ photo of a volcano that your company has made or was already online is not too important for the customer experience in this case.
Another example is the app Timelooper, which enables tourists to see certain locations throughout history. Currently, the app only includes London, New York, Washington DC, Budapest, Berlin and Izmir, but more locations are being realized rapidly. This app brings storytelling to a whole new level and it could have a huge effect on the way tours will be executed. TO’s can use all this content to market the possibilities tourists have at their destinations. Even interaction within the story lines will soon be possible, so soon enough you might be able to see how many people visited Donald Trumps’ inauguration day through his perspective. (Field, 2017)
In conclusion, many new marketing tools arise over time for Tour operators, yet the direction has been made clear. Virtual reality increases sales and brings exciting new possibilities along. Even the total customer engagement model could be implemented when employees engage with the customer within a virtual reality platform, to maximize the customer engagement and increase the overall CRM.
Field, A. (2017, 28 March). From tour operators to app developers, people are applying virtual reality technology to tourism. Received on 2017, from newsroom cisco: https://newsroom.cisco.com/feature-content?articleId=1832637
Jelsma, J. (2017, 06 20). vr in tourism from a business point of view. Received on 2017, from virtual reality in tourism: http://www.virtual-reality-in-tourism.com/vr-in-tourism-from-a-business-point-of-view/
Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management.