Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and 360° will revolutionize travel similar to the way early online booking engines changed travel. According to HospitalityNet, the following are the seven ways these new technologies will shape our travels. Bottom line, these new technologies will be critical to ensure future profitability and higher online conversion (booking) rates.
1. Far off places become next door neighbors.
Imagine experiencing Machu Picchu, the Great Wall, or Antarctica all from the comfort of your living room. Seeing the world gets a whole lot easier, convincing travelers where to go on their next trip.
2. Hotels will offer virtual walk-throughs from anywhere.
No longer limited to two-dimensional photographs and flat tours with descriptions, luxury travelers will immerse themselves in a hotel, taking in all the amenities, meeting spaces, F&B outlets, sights and sounds, prior to arrival.
3. Room types can be showcased like never before.
This immersive experience allows luxury travelers to understand the difference between room types before they arrive at the hotel. Additionally, hotels can showcase premium rooms to entice guests to upgrade their room.
4. Travel advisors will literally show you the world.
Deciding between different remote destinations becomes easy from the comfort of a travel advisor's office. Hayman Island? Mnemba Island? Necker? Luxury travelers can see them all and decide which destination is perfect for their discerning tastes.
5. Smartphones will become even more ingrained in the travel research process.
In addition to all the apps that assist luxury travelers with their travel research, smartphones will be transformed to VR devices as well. Samsung Gear VR is leading the pack, but Sony and HTC are close behind.
6. VR Goggles will become a mainstream sales tool.
With all the added experiential components, VR headsets will replace the iPad as the main sales tool at travel industry events and conferences like International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) and Virtuoso Travel Week.
7. Traveler expectations will rise.
Because VR gets a potential guest closer than ever before to "being there without actually being there," traveler expectations will be properly set before they book. It's then up to the best luxury hotels to WOW them with the unexpected experiences when they arrive. Sipping an exceptional Burgundy, shaking the GM's hand, smelling the ocean air — the things that can never be virtualized.