Is virtual reality a fad?

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Throughout the pandemic, destinations, tour operators, cruise companies and everybody else connected to travel has tried to stimulate interest in their services by using VR – virtual reality.

A robot receptionist exhibited some years ago as a benefit to hotel lobbies. Helpful to hotels but to guests? How helpful is VR?

This isn’t to say that the travel industry hadn’t used it prior to the virus condemning travel to memories but the use of it leaped in the last year.

Have you watched a travel VR promotion? Did you “visit” an online travel show that took you on a virtual trip around not just the exhibition hall but to the place that you were enquiring about?

I confess that I have done but I left feeling that it wasn’t the same; (of course it wouldn’t be) it lacked atmosphere and the smells and even sounds of places I knew. Yes there were sounds but they didn’t seem right.

The question I pose is whether VR has a place in the future of travel or whether their use peaked during the pandemic? I take the same view as I have about 3-D; largely uninteresting, possibly misleading and nothing like the real thing.

Having said that I suppose I should be grateful in that VR was available during the time but I’ll be glad when I don’t have to see it again.

I mention this because one of the world’s leading data companies – GlobalData – has suggested that VR should be incorporated into the travel industry’s marketing strategies and suggests that it could use VR at the booking stage for customers saying it “will give them the ultimate experience before even arriving to their destination.”

GlobalData thinks that consumers will adopt this technology on a more permanent basis.

This wider use “may allow VR to permanently shake off its image of being a gimmick in the tourism sector” the company says.

The travel industry loves hype. Is VR more than just hype?

There will be people who will look at anything witness that long documentary from one of the Scandinavian countries which showed a train journey live and which lasted hours and hours but showed very little that was different.

The use of “gimmicks” such as robots at hotel reception desks, wide-lens hotel room tours, under belly aircraft cameras that show clouds and nothing else for hour after hour have all been adopted by the industry.

Marketing staff in companies, who rarely stay in the same job for too long before heading either elsewhere or upwards, leap on any bandwagon that suggests they are slaving to keep their companies at the forefront of cutting edge technology because by the time the chickens come home to roost, have moved on.

Is VR one of the bandwagons?

Who would have thought that online software like Zoom would have such an effect that now airlines are concerned that business travel might not return to pre-pandemic levels because it has been shown to be efficient and with cost-saving benefits.

Maybe the time has come for VR. Just not for grouches like me who prefer the real thing.

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