VR in the travel Agency to prevent holiday disappointments
Holiday planning thrives on fantasy. For example, a dreamlike hotel on a paradisiacal beach appears before the inner eye. But the real accommodation often has little to do with the wishful thinking. The result: disappointment. How can this be prevented?
The Internet with map services and rating platforms undoubtedly provides good research opportunities – but there are limits. In the future, vacationers will be able to convince themselves of the local conditions almost lifelike.
The technologies Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) make it possible. They offer, for example, virtual inspections of hotel rooms, a 360-degree walk through New York or computer-animated tours on cruise ships.
Immersion in foreign worlds
“VR is the complete immersion into foreign worlds,” says Kristine Honig, consultant at the company Tourismuszukunft. VR glasses are the most common device for this: users are shielded from the real world with the help of the glasses and receive content via the display and speakers. The movement in the digital world and the interaction with space are simulated realistically.
Meanwhile, many travel agencies use the technology to whet their appetite for the holiday. Thomas Cook, for example, has equipped a total of 880 offices with VR glasses. The 360-degree view allows much more complete insights into a holiday destination than catalog photos. With the glasses, the user can look around in all directions.
“So you can sit in the travel agency and walk through a cruise ship, take a scenic flight over a region or look at a hotel,” says Honig. For the preparation of a trip or as an inspiration, this is a great help.
VR Can take travelers ‘ skepticism
“It provides an opportunity to better explain a journey,” says Georg Welbers, marketing and sales manager at Thomas Cook. A hotel, for example, can be taken under the microscope, such as the room layout or the view from the balcony.
VR works not only in the travel agency, but also at home. The glasses cost between 25 and 1000 euros, depending on the model and quality.
With Thomas Cook Signature and Neckermann Reisen, holidaymakers can reserve their desired room in many hotels for an extra charge. Here, for example, it makes sense to inspect the rooms via VR before selecting them. “The customer can see that, for example, in room 321 there is a beautiful view of the sea, but in 322 the larger balcony is available,” Welbers gives as an example.
Impressions via virtual reality can take the skepticism away from travelers and convey a good feeling, believe tourism experts. Expert Honig suspects that travel companies can therefore also sell higher-quality, i.e. more expensive products more easily.
Example: A larger cabin on a cruise ship is only really experienced during a virtual tour. According to a Bitkom survey, three quarters of tourism professionals believe that it will be common in 2025 to use VR technologies to get an idea of the holiday destination.
AR provides contextual information
Even rather unconventional applications are possible, and already today. In Cologne, for example, visitors see the city as it looked in the imperial era on a new VR tour.
In Legoland Germany, guests will compete in a virtual race against figures from the legoworld on a roller coaster next season, also via VR glasses. And on the new expedition ships of Hurtigruten, passengers can follow underwater drones with the glasses.
“While VR takes the user virtually to a strange place, augmented reality provides contextual information,” explains Dirk Schart of Reflekt, a company that develops VR and AR applications. The idea behind it: “We often look for information. AR takes you where you need it, right into the environment.“
Here, the user is not shielded from the environment by glasses. Rather, he receives additional information via text and image on his own smartphone or tablet. With the mobile phone pulled out in front of Cologne Cathedral, for example, the visitor sees through the display not only the cathedral, but also information on the history, size and construction time.
“Pokémon Go” and Wikitude
The mobile game “Pokémon Go”, in which users can search for and catch small monsters in the real world – but they are only visible in the display of the smartphone, generated great attention for AR.
In tourism, one of the most famous examples is Wikitude. With the app, vacationers can see facts about attractions. Google has also developed a tool. “Google Lens can display information about places, a store or a restaurant in the live image of the camera,” explains Schart.
And there’s more: If users download the language packs from Google Translate, the app also translates a restaurant map or directions using the device’s camera. In the Display, the traveler sees the Translation. “With augmented reality, I will be able to display everything whenever and wherever I need it,” says Schart.
AR apps help with travel planning
AR apps also help with travel planning in the living room at home. The digital information can Supplement the information from travel brochures. To do this, the app scans the corresponding AR icon, and additional images and videos are displayed.
“In the travel catalog, a hotel presents itself on half a page. But of course you have much more to tell,“ says Thomas Cook expert Welbers. Travelers get a more comprehensive impression of the hotel.
In the future, AR offers almost unlimited possibilities. Thus, only vegetarian restaurants can be shown to a vegetarian. Or a culture lover will be informed about places of residence of artists. Social media expert Honig believes that the application is moving away from smartphones and glasses towards voice control. The search for information is thus simplified once again.
Will virtual travel eventually replace real vacation? The experts do not believe that. “Holidays are an interactive experience between people. This cannot be replaced,“ says Welbers.