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The Benefits of Having a Virtual Phone Number
In today’s digital world, having a virtual phone number is becoming increasingly important for businesses. A virtual phone number is a phone number that is not linked to any physical device or landline, but rather to an online service provider. This type of phone number can be used for both personal and business purposes, and offers many benefits that traditional phone numbers do not. Here are some of the advantages of having a virtual phone number:
One of the main benefits of having a virtual phone number is increased flexibility. Unlike traditional landlines, virtual numbers can be used from anywhere in the world and are not tied to any specific location. This means that you can use your virtual number from any device with an internet connection, making it ideal for those who travel frequently or work remotely. Additionally, you can also forward calls to other numbers or voicemail boxes, allowing you to stay connected no matter where you are.
Another advantage of having a virtual phone number is cost savings. Virtual numbers are typically much cheaper than traditional landlines, as they don’t require any hardware or installation fees. Additionally, they often come with features such as call forwarding and voicemail that would normally incur additional charges with landlines. This makes them an ideal choice for businesses on a budget who still want access to reliable communication services.
Finally, another benefit of having a virtual phone number is enhanced security. Since these numbers are not linked to any physical device or location, they offer an extra layer of protection against unwanted calls and spam messages. Additionally, many providers offer additional security features such as call encryption and two-factor authentication that can help keep your data safe from hackers and other malicious actors.
Overall, having a virtual phone number offers many advantages over traditional landlines. From increased flexibility and cost savings to enhanced security features, these numbers provide businesses with reliable communication services without the need for expensive hardware or installation fees. If you’re looking for an affordable way to stay connected no matter where you are in the world, then investing in a virtual phone number may be the right choice for you.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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7 Benefits of Virtual Tourism (& 28 Free Virtual Tours)
- Tips & Trends
Let’s go somewhere…virtually!
Stuck at home? Virtual tours might be a great option for you! If you’re following stay-at-home orders but are still itching to travel, virtual tours allow you to travel all over the world with just a simple click. Still not convinced? Keep reading to:
- Discover the seven main benefits of virtual traveling
- Explore 28 amazing experiences in nine different countries
- Get inspired for your next (physical) trip booked through Yugen Earthside
What is “Virtual Tourism”?
Virtual tourism enables people to visit places remotely. The idea has been around for several years, as a natural offshoot of the possibilities inspired by virtual reality (VR); but Covid-19 has accelerated the buzz around this concept.
Virtual tourism leverages audio-visual components, and sometimes VR, to bring tours, galleries, museums, exhibits, zoos, aquariums, parks, and more to life through your screen.
Traveling virtually lends itself especially well to educational tourism activities, where you might want to read every single sign, or cultural and artistic tourist experiences, where you might want to look at each unique detail of a painting or tapestry up close. It can ignite that sense of wonder and excitement you feel when you visit a new place, from the comfort of your home.
7 Benefits of Virtual Tourism
Naturally, some of the tactile senses that animate an in-person tourism experience will elude you, but, traveling virtually has myriad benefits:
- You’ll always be first in line - there's never a queue!
- You can visit multiple destinations in a day
- There is no need to plan in advance – explore in a spontaneous, stress-free way!
- It’s easily accessible to adventurers with mobility issues
- Many virtual tours are free or cheaper than visiting in person
- Virtual tours are Covid-friendly: you’ll stay socially distant and not need to wear a mask
- It’s a carbon-friendly way to travel
Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of virtual tours that’ll take you on a trip around the world. Buckle up!
Portugal Virtual Tours
- Take a guided tour through the capital city of Lisbon . Then, virtually transport to Sintra for a visit to Pena National Palace .
- Learn about the famous Portuguese Azulejo ceramic tilework from this online exhibit presented by the National Azulejo Museum on Google Arts & Culture.
- Enjoy the remarkable collection of the National Museum of Ancient Art .
After virtually exploring Portugal’s well-known sites, consider our popular trip through the Heart and Soul of Douro Valley , or our more off-the-beaten-path walking trip on the Other Side of Douro . These self-guided walking trips through northern Portugal's famous wine region are bookable for 2+ people. Come with your partner, family, or a close group of friends for a refreshing, low-carbon-impact, outdoor vacation.
Walking Tour: Heart & Soul of Douro Valley
From 1,090 € pp
Walking Tour: On the Other Side of Douro
From 970 € pp
Nepal Virtual Tours
- Roam through the streets of Kathmandu , Nepal’s capital.
- Venture to the Himalayas to explore its various villages and monasteries and try to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.
If you enjoyed these virtual tourism experiences, check out our classic Annapurna Panorama Trek or a less-trafficked hike along the Khopra Ridge , visiting local communities along the way. With these privately guided tours, you choose the start date that works best for your group, meaning you can book it well in advance for a season that suits you. These treks are perfect for active and adventurous partners, families (with teenage or young adult children), or a close group of friends. Come enjoy the fresh mountain air and the vibrancy and warmth of the Nepali people!
Annapurna Panorama Trek
From $2,000 pp
- Privately Guided
Khopra Ridge Community Trek
From $1,350 pp
Kenya Virtual Tours
- Check out this virtual ecotour by vEcotourism titled “Salt-mining Elephants of Mount Elgon” .
- Explore Kenya’s diverse communities at the Nairobi National Museum as well as its various national parks presented by the National Museums of Kenya .
If being out in nature, savoring unique landscapes, and partaking in local activities sounds like what you’re looking for, our Mida Creek Village Experience might be just the trip for you. Bookable for up to six people, this 3-day experience would be perfect to add to the beginning or end of a longer trip to Kenya. With a bit more time available to explore, our Kenyan Coast & Safari is the ideal way to have a more impactful and transformative experience in this beautiful country!
Mida Creek Village Experience
Kenyan Coast & 6-day Safari
From $800 pp
Kyrgyzstan Virtual Tours
- Learn about Kyrgyzstan´s rich culture & traditions from an online presentation by You Visit before touring the capital city, Bishkek.
- If nature is more your calling, explore the serene regions of Sary-Chelek and Naryn via Air Pano’s 360° aerial experience .
Uzbekistan Virtual Tours
- Skip the line and enter the House Museum of Aybek , an exhibit dedicated to the famous Uzbek writer Aybek Musa Tashmukhamedov.
- View the city of Bukhara from the Kalyan Minaret , also known as the “Tower of Death” in the Po-i-Kalyan mosque complex.
- Take a virtual reality tour of Uzbekistan’s capital city Tashkent .
Georgia Virtual Tours
- Admire Georgian architecture, art and culture through this historical tour of the Art Palace of Georgia .
- Visit Georgia’s various cities and landscapes in this Virtual Reality Georgia Tour by Pandorama 360.
Armenia Virtual Tours
- Explore Armenia with virtual tours to Noravank Monastery , Shaki Waterfall , and Republic Square with Armenia | 360 Stories .
Jordan Virtual Tours
- Educate yourself on the “Handwoven History of Palestine and Jordan” with this historical presentation on Google Arts & Culture.
- Visit in detail the “Rose City” of Petra ; one of the 7 Wonders of the World. If you’re interested in historical monuments, Shoubak Castle may also be right up your alley.
- For a mini beach getaway visit the port city of Aqaba known for its marine blue water.
Ghana Virtual Tours
- Visit the Nubuke Foundation in Accra to learn how they’re “Championing Ghanaian Contemporary Art” .
- Take a virtual journey to popular destinations like Elmina Castle and Wli Waterfall with Dobiison’s 360 Ghana tours .
Where to next?
Hopefully, at least one of these tours piqued your interest. Maybe it even got the travel gears turning in your head and gave you inspiration for your next adventure. Which of these virtual tours do you find most intriguing? Do you think virtual tourism will become a travel trend of the future?
Please experiment with traveling virtually using this post as inspiration, and contact Yugen Earthside if you're interested in converting your virtual experience into a sustainable adventure in person!
This post was originally published on Dec. 17, 2020, and updated in September 2023.
Leleti works on Digital Marketing for Yugen Earthside. She first caught the travel bug in 2017 when she studied abroad in Paris and now she's eager to see the rest of the world. She's visited seven countries so far and plans to catch up with the rest of the team's country counts soon.
Travel Trends 2023: New Sustainable Changes?
Sustainable Travel in Developing Countries
- Sustainable Travel
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The Rise of Virtual Reality in Tourism: Benefits and Examples
Introduction to Virtual Reality in Tourism
Virtual reality in tourism provides viewers with an immersive tourism experience. There are many different types of virtual tourism services available. They use a combination of virtual reality, still images, video, audio, narration, and other multimedia formats.
It gives users an experience of a destination that they wouldn't get from looking at pictures or visiting a website.
Virtual tourism content can be accessed using a virtual reality headset for the most immersive experience. It can also be viewed on a regular computer or even a mobile device.
Virtual Reality in Tourism
Viewers can take part in activities, travel to different locations, and visit different destinations. They can do all this from the comfort of their own homes. Virtual tourism has many distinct advantages. The most obvious advantage is that viewers can see and experience a destination without having to travel there.
This means they are not restricted by available flights, travel logistics, safety concerns, or whether destinations are open. They aren't even concerned with time zones or weather conditions.
Another advantage for viewers is the cost
Millions of people who otherwise would not be able to afford to travel to these destinations can now do so. Viewers are embracing the rise of virtual tourism destinations to see and experience things they never imagined were possible.
The ability to read the minds of potential customers and highlight a location, amenities, and offerings is a clear benefit for hotels and destinations. Viewers who have been to a hotel or visited a location through virtual tourism are more likely to book a future stay. They also look forward to experiencing the activity in the “real world.”
Virtual tourism technology also provides excellent marketing opportunities. Instead of flat images on a brochure or website, potential guests can see a 360-degree view of a property and its amenities. Viewers who experience a property in this way are more likely to want to return in the future. They can also share the virtual offerings with their friends and family.
How is it used: Virtual Reality in Tourism?
There are many ways for hotels and destinations to enjoy this technology and the growing popularity of virtual tourism.
Virtual tourism has been in use for years to highlight the unique aspects of a location. These aspects can be history and culture to exciting activities, local attractions, and fun trivia.
360-degree VR video is used by hotels and local governments to capture everything about a destination in an immersive way. With the press of a button, viewers can travel to a remote mountaintop, a beautiful beach, a network of hiking trails, or a bustling city.
VR photography combines still images with specialized software
It creates an immersive image that allows the user to look in any direction. This technology is ideal for displaying hotel interiors, artwork, museum exhibits, and anything else that can be fully appreciated without the use of sound or motion.
Users can get in on the action with immersive VR experiences. They can interact with the environment and learn more through their actions. A curated experience focusing on one aspect of the location, such as the food scene, music, history, or art, is common. Virtual reality yoga classes, nature walks, stargazing, and bird watching are all popular ways to promote a location.
Before landing, passengers can take a 3D tour
Virtual reality can aid in the planning of tourist attractions, when there are delays in the travel schedule, travelers can use vr tech, take a virtual reality tour of the plane, travel planners can use virtual reality to create engaging presentations, virtual reality is a fantastic way to advertise on social media, virtual reality can assist travelers in locating locations on a map, the faroe islands, bristol from home, dubai 360 is a virtual tour of dubai, the great barrier reef, benefits of virtual reality in tourism.
There's nothing quite like knowing where you're going before you arrive at your destination. One of the benefits of virtual reality in tourism is that visitors can take a 3D tour of their destination before arriving. Virtual reality is distinct from traditional photography.
It allows users to immerse themselves in the experience. Tourists can thus sense a city's culture before ever setting foot in the city. It makes them feel less like outsiders when they arrive.
Vacations always seem to be too short because visitors never get to see everything they want while on vacation. A lack of good planning is one of the reasons why key sights go unnoticed by tourists. Virtual reality allows visitors to learn the names and locations of all the town's major attractions ahead of time.
Tourists can also look inside famous landmarks to see if they want to take a virtual tour of them in real-time. Because virtual reality allows visitors to only entertain the locations that intrigue them the most in real-time, they get the most out of their sightseeing experience.
There's nothing worse than getting stranded at the airport for an unknown amount of time. During these times, boredom has a way of creeping in and clouding the vision of the excitement. When unexpected delays occur, the best way to re-establish excitement for the trip ahead is to take a virtual reality tour of the vacation destination.
Some passengers feel more at ease after seeing the plane and knowing where all the emergency exits are located. Virtual reality allows passengers to take a 3D tour of the plane before boarding.
The future of virtual reality in tourism does not completely end the need for actual tours. When it comes to presentations, travel planners should think about the advantages of virtual reality in tourism. Consider the coordinator who can do more than hand out a brochure listing possible locations.
How many more customers could a planner get if he could take them on a virtual tour of the streets of Venice before charging them for a trip they might or might not enjoy?
Virtual reality in tourism removes the element of surprise from travel. Thus ensuring that customers have a good time in their chosen destination.
A vacation planning company that uses social media does more than just post pictures of popular destinations. Virtual reality can help businesses stand out from the competition. It allows coordinators to post 3D tours of cities to entice customers to contact them.
There's nothing more frustrating than getting lost on vacation and wasting time. In tourism, virtual reality can assist travelers in locating simple items. These can be a nearby coffee shop, reducing the time it takes to find something that would otherwise take 30 minutes to find to only 10 minutes.
Some Examples of Virtual Reality in Tourism
The Faroe Islands are a group of islands off the coast of Iceland. Once COVID-19 began, the Faroe Islands launched a virtual tourism campaign. This provides people with an alternative to traveling to the location. This was a blessing for everyone who had been isolated all over the world. It allows visitors from all over the world to virtually tour the islands through the eyes of a local. It also allows virtual tourists to track the locals' movements in real-time.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Visit Bristol created an immersive experience like the Faroe Islands. Bristol From Home is a collection of travelers' favorite ideas, inspirations, and resources. These ideas allow you to continue to enjoy Bristol from the comfort of your own home during social distancing measures.
The website offers a variety of virtual experiences. It provides tours of a luxury Victorian ship, hot-air balloon rides, gin tastings, and more, all in one convenient location.
Tour Dubai's awe-inspiring architecture with Dubai 360. It is an immersive virtual tourism experience that allows users to travel the city from a bird's-eye view. It helps you learn everything there is to know about the various locations.
Virtual tourism is available on the Great Barrier Reef. Legendary broadcaster and historian David Attenborough hosts the interactive journey. The journey takes viewers on a tour of the world's largest coral reef system. This is more than just a substitute for Great Barrier Reef tours. It's an experience in and of itself, demonstrating the versatility of virtual tourism.
Virtual tours can serve as a starting point for alternative tourism during the Corona pandemic and even after it is over. Furthermore, there are those who lack the necessary resources, financial capacity, free time, or access.
People with disabilities and limited mobility will be able to experience the sensation of recreation through a virtual tour.
Virtual tours, besides being cost-effective, can be used to promote tourist attractions to central and local governments. It does, in fact, need technological advancements such as 360-degree software, virtual reality (VR), and panoramic images.
With this advancement in technology, virtual tours can now be visualized in 3D, making them more realistic and futuristic. A virtual tour can act as an entrance to entice people to visit these tourist attractions in person.
You may also like to read: VR And AR In Food Business: Their Impact and Benefits
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Exploring the World of Virtual Tourism: Advantages, Disadvantages, and Frequently Asked Questions
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when most were stuck at home due to travel restrictions, there was a surge in virtual tourism. Heck, I helped one of my clients launch daily live-stream broadcasts via several social media channels (Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter) to stay connected with existing clients and fans. The success of the live streams, which had different Blue Badge Tourist Guides showcasing London, led to the development of virtual tours as a new product offering. So what exactly is virtual tourism? Below I provide insight.
What is virtual tourism?
Virtual tourism is a digital experience that allows people to virtually “travel” to destinations or experience a tourist attraction without leaving their homes. It uses a combination of technical components such as virtual reality software, audio, video, images, narration, etc. Virtual tourism experiences can be recorded or live-streamed interactive presentations with knowledgeable and engaging tourist guides.
Virtual tourism aims to create a near-life touring experience of a particular destination or tourist attraction. Virtual tourism can provide a glimpse of what a destination or tourist attraction has to offer; it can also be used to plan a future in-person trip.
How big is the virtual tourism market?
In-person travel continues to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, but the global virtual tourism sector continues to be pushed forward by major VR technology players like Google, GoMeta, Valve, Ximmerse, Samsung Electronics, Microsoft Corporation, Sony Interactive Entertainment and Oculus VR LLC owned by Facebook.
The goal is not to replace in-person travel but complement and also reach new markets; for example, school groups and older people with discretionary income who cannot travel due to health and limited mobility. And according to Market Research Data, “the global virtual tourism market was worth US$ 5 billion in 2021 and is predicted to reach the valuation of US$ 24.10 billion by 2027.” Essentially, virtual tourism has always been a business opportunity within the travel industry, and in recent years due to the lockdown from the COVID-19 epidemic, more people are aware of the offering and now ready to accept it.
What are the different types of virtual tourism?
At the core of each virtual tour are photos and videos with narration, often by a knowledgeable tour guide stitched together to create a virtual experience. The technology allows virtual tourists to have an immersive exposure to a location, activity, or destination. There are several different types of virtual tourism, including:
Virtual reality (VR) experiences: Virtual reality technology creates a fully immersive, computer-generated environment that allows users to explore a destination as if they were there. This can be done using VR headsets, which provide a fully enclosed view of the environment, or through virtual reality apps on a smartphone or tablet. Virtual reality experiences can give a realistic and engaging way to explore a destination, allowing users to look around and interact with the environment as if they were physically there.
Example: A virtual reality experience might allow users to explore the streets of Paris, walking around the city, and visiting popular attractions such as the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre Museum.
360-degree videos: These videos are created using multiple cameras that capture footage from all angles, allowing users to look around and experience a destination from different perspectives. 360-degree videos can be viewed on a computer or mobile device using a special player that allows the user to pan and zoom the video to look around. This type of virtual tourism can provide a more interactive and immersive experience than traditional videos.
Example: A 360-degree video might allow users to experience a safari in Africa, looking around and seeing the animals up close.
Interactive maps and panoramic images: These tools allow users to explore a destination by navigating through high-resolution photos or maps. Users can zoom in and out to view different parts of the area, providing a more detailed look at a destination than a traditional map or photo. These tools can also include additional information and highlights of popular attractions, making them a valuable tool for planning a trip.
Example: Interactive maps and panoramic images: An interactive map might allow users to explore the ruins of an ancient city, such as Pompeii, and learn about the different buildings and artifacts that have been preserved.
Augmented reality (AR) experiences: Augment reality technology can be used to add digital elements to a real-world environment, providing an enhanced view of a destination. For example, an augmented reality app might show the locations of popular attractions overlaid on a live view of the destination or provide additional information about a particular place when the user points their device at it. Augmented reality experiences can provide a unique and engaging way to explore a destination and learn more about it.
Example: An augmented reality experience might provide additional information about the history of a particular building or monument when the user points their device at it, providing a more engaging and informative way to explore a destination.
Live streaming events: Some destinations offer live streams of popular attractions and events, allowing users to experience them in real time from wherever they are. This can be a great way to see a destination without traveling there or get a sneak peek of a live event or attraction before visiting in person.
Example: A live stream might show a carnival parade or concert at a popular music festival, allowing users to experience the event from their homes as if they were there.
Virtual tours with a guide: Virtual tours with a guide are a type of virtual tourism in which a real-life tour guide gives an online presentation or interactive workshop showcasing destinations or tourist attractions using a video conferencing platform, such as Zoom or Skype. Virtual tours can also provide an opportunity to interact with the tour guide or other viewers, adding a social aspect to the virtual tourism experience. This type of virtual tour can be a great way to learn about a destination or tourist attraction and have a more personalized experience without having to travel there physically.
Example: A London Blue Badge Tourist guide presents an interactive presentation via video conference service Zoom with attendees getting a virtual tour of the British Museum, learning about the different museum exhibits and artifacts.
What are some examples of virtual tourism?
There are different types of virtual tourism due to the technology used during development. For instance, complex designs require more than an ordinary smartphone to operate. Some involve a tour guide giving an immersive presentation via Zoom. Below are the five primary types of virtual tourism.
A virtual tour trial before a service or purchase
This particular type of virtual tour (often with a virtual reality headset) allows potential guests to view the services being offered on a tour destination beforehand. This type of virtual tourism is effective, especially when a service or product cost is expensive.
One that tours nonexistent areas
This virtual tour is unique as it allows tourists to visit nonexistent places. It typically enables users to explore and connect to people or things in this imaginary destination using an avatar.
A virtual tour to inaccessible places in real life
This unique type of virtual tourism takes you on a journey to locations that are usually restricted or challenging to access, like Plymouth, the former capital of Montserrat, now buried under volcanic ash.
Virtual tourism of ancient places
This digital tour type teleports you to past destinations while you sit comfortably at home. In other words, this tour type gives you the privilege of visiting locations that no longer exist.
A virtual tour across the globe
Google Earth is one of the most reliable virtual tours for giving precise directions or showing you specific tourist destinations. At the touch of a button, you explore any region around the world with ease.
Other virtual tourism examples include:
A virtual tour of the planet Mars
A trip out of this world and one that’s worthwhile is none other than that on the red planet. Although no one on earth has ever landed on the Martian surface, a virtual tour of the planet Mars courtesy of NASA and Google takes you there through images and video recorded by the Mars Curiosity Rover.
Hiking on the Great Wall of China, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
A visit to a historic site like the Great Wall of China is usually an adventure of a lifetime. Virtual tourism allows you to hike the great wall of china without any physical effort. The virtual destination covers six and a half miles between the Simatai and Jinshanling walls, with expansive views of china.
Aerial views of Mount Everest from a helicopter
Flying across Mount Everest entails a lifetime of training, and the opportunity is often hard to come by. Luckily, through a virtual tour, your view of Mount Everest is similar to that of a helicopter rescue pilot, with no risk, of course.
Getting a close-up view of the Niagara Falls State Park
With access from Canada and the United States, national parks like Niagara Falls State Park is often brimming with tourists. Thus, via a Niagara Falls virtual tour, people at home can get a most immersive experience away from all the hustle and bustle while taking in the spectacular views of the falls.
What are the advantages of virtual tourism?
Below are the main advantages of virtual tourism for both the tourist and the tourism industry.
Convenience: Virtual tourism allows people to visit and explore new places without the need for physical travel, which can be time-consuming, stressful, and expensive.
Freedom and Flexibility: Virtual tourism gives potential customers the freedom that a typical tour wouldn’t. For instance, you can easily climb Mount Everest virtually while wearing your flip-flops. In terms of flexibility, you plan any trip as per your schedule or time zones, making it quite convenient.
Accessibility: Virtual tourism makes it possible for people with mobility issues or other physical limitations to visit and explore places that may otherwise be difficult or impossible for them to access.
Affordability: Virtual tourism can be a more affordable option compared to physical travel, as it eliminates the need for airline and accommodation costs. Most often, all a consumer needs is access to a computer or smartphone connected online.
Eco-friendly: Virtual tourism can provide a more eco-friendly option than physical travel. By eliminating or reducing the need for international travel, virtual tourism can reduce carbon emissions associated with travel, helping to protect the environment.
Extend tourism season: Virtual tourism can extend the tourism season for tour guides. For example, tour guides can do in-person tours of a tourist attraction or destination during the busy spring and summer. In the off-season, these tours can be customized and presented virtually.
It can stimulate in-person tourism: Virtual tourism can be used as a marketing tool to promote the actual tourist destinations being mimicked. Tourists can purchase a flight ticket or book a hotel service based on their virtual experience. Essentially a virtual tour can be part of the early stages of research for a trip.
Virtual tourism can also provide a more personalized experience, as viewers can choose the exact locations they want to visit and explore at their own pace. This can be especially beneficial for people interested in specific places or attractions who want to learn more about them.
What are the disadvantages of virtual tourism?
While there are many benefits of virtual tourism, as outlined above, a few disadvantages come with them.
Lack of physical interaction: Virtual tourism cannot fully replicate the experience of being in a destination and interacting with the environment and people.
Limited immersion: While virtual reality technology can create a more immersive experience, it still cannot fully replicate the sensory experience of being there in person. For example, virtual tours cannot capture a destination’s smells, sounds, and tactile sensations.
Accuracy: While virtual tours can provide a sense of being in a place, they may only sometimes accurately represent the destination. For example, pre-recorded videos may not capture the current state of a location, or live streaming may not provide a comprehensive view of the destination.
Technical limitations: Virtual tourism relies on technology, and there may be technical issues or limitations that can affect the quality of the experience.
Limited social interaction: There is usually no or limited social interaction and no connections at a personal level. Although this might be ideal for some, others might find the entire experience dissatisfying.
Virtual tourism is inaccessible in some regions: A strong internet connection is needed for a successful virtual tour, which might pose a challenge, especially when you’re living in a remote area.
Less economic benefits from virtual tours: Virtual tours contribute less to the economy since they don’t require much, and in the end, you end up spending less.
Undertourism: Virtual tourism also has the potential to negatively impact the tourism industry and the local economies of destinations. While virtual tourism can provide an affordable option for some travelers, it may also reduce the number of people visiting a destination in person, which can have negative economic consequences for the local community.
Despite these limitations, the growth of virtual tourism continues to increase and provides a unique and engaging way for people to explore new places and experience new things. As virtual tourism technology improves, virtual tours are likely to become even more immersive and realistic, providing an even more authentic experience for virtual travelers.
Frequently asked questions about Virtual tourism.
What is the difference between virtual tourism and virtual reality tours?
Virtual tourism can be defined as using technology to create an artificial tourist destination that mimics a real one, therefore enhancing the experience. On the other hand, virtual reality is the illusion of mimicking reality using digital platforms, with a concept that entirely relies on technology in place.
Is virtual reality bad for your eyes?
Virtual reality is being upgraded, and its technology is also advancing. Therefore, it’s always advisable to limit the time spent using virtual reality headsets and also pay attention to the warning signs that come with them.
Can virtual tourism replace physical travel?
While virtual tourism can provide a similar experience to physical travel in some ways, virtual travel experiences cannot fully replace the real world experience of being in a destination and interacting with the environment and the people there.
Is virtual tourism only for people who cannot physically travel?
Virtual tourism can be enjoyed by anyone, not just people who cannot physically travel. It can be a convenient and affordable option for anyone who wants to explore new places without the need for physical travel.
Is virtual tourism only for exploring destinations?
Virtual tourism can be used for more than just exploring destinations. For example, it can also be used for virtual events, such as concerts or conferences, allowing people to participate from anywhere in the world.
Is virtual tourism costly?
During the pandemic, many virtual tours were offered free of charge. For instance, through a partnership with more than 2,500 museums and art galleries across the globe, Google Arts and Culture has come up with free virtual tours. A few museums you can tour virtually include The Louvre in Paris, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
What about paid virtual tours? Below are examples of travel companies offering a variety of virtual tours or travel experiences for a fee. Pricing is quite varied and depends on a number of variables (i.e., recorded vs. live, technology and tour complexity, etc.)
- Guide London – led by Blue Badge Tourist Guides, they offer private virtual tours of London on famous landmarks, tourist attractions, or themes of interest (i.e., Royal London, London Street Art, Legal London, etc.)
- Avital Tours – they offer virtual events all themed around food and drinks (i.e., cooking classes, mixology, etc.).
- Clio Muse – they offer self-guided audio tours from 23 different countries across the globe.
- Context Travel – led by local scholars, they offer online seminars and courses highlighting popular travel destinations worldwide.
- Museum Hack – they offer virtual team building and online storytelling workshops.
- Airbnb Online Experiences – they offer online tours and experiences led by locals from across the globe.
Ursula Petula Barzey is the Founder of Moxee Marketing and has 20+ years of business development and marketing (traditional and digital) experience working in the United States and the United kingdom for a wide range of international and SME companies.
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Residential, 10 most important benefits of virtual tours.
Posted by Indoor Drone Tours
If you are looking to increase the number of leads that come through your doors, one great way is to have virtual tours. Virtual tours are an excellent marketing tool for generating more interest in your services and products. As a result, they can also help increase conversion rates for your business. In this blog post, we will discuss the 10 benefits of virtual tours so that you can see how beneficial they can be for growing your business!
Showcase the beauty of each property
Virtual tours are a great way to show off your property to buyers who are unable to come to visit. They allow you to highlight the benefits of each property through imagery and video so that your clients know what they will be getting if they choose one of your properties!
It gives potential buyers a feel for the inside like an idea about how large or small, bright or dim, cheerful or beautifully melancholic. This will help you get more leads, as your viewers are able to imagine themselves living in these spaces before they even come out for a visit! Do you have an office building? Learn more about how we can perform virtual tours for office buildings !
Save time and money on visits
With virtual tours, there is no need for physical video or photoshoots of each location. You can save time and money by creating all of your virtual tours in one location. This way, you do not have to spend hours traveling back and forth between properties!
Read More: Real Estate Drone Photography: A Quick Marketing Guide
Show multiple properties at one time.
If you are a realtor with multiple properties on the market, virtual tours can be used to showcase all of them at one time! This will help potential buyers get an idea about each property without having to visit every single home. You can also share images and videos for each listing in order to highlight its benefits while also showing viewers what else is available!
You Can Add Google Analytics Tracking Code
Virtual tours allow you to track viewers and their behavior on your website through the use of code that is added directly onto the tour page! This helps with conversions, as it allows you to see which parts of your virtual tour are most effective for getting more leads. You can then make changes accordingly in order to maximize your marketing tactics!
Visual information is more memorable.
People are 65% more likely to remember visual information for up to 3 days compared to written or spoken content, which is why virtual tours are such an effective marketing tool! When you share your tour online, potential buyers can easily refer back to these videos if they need help recalling the description of a certain property later on. This will allow them to make a faster decision, which means you can close more deals!
Increase search engine rankings
Having virtual tours on your website is an excellent way to increase its SEO value and get higher up in the search engine ranks when people are searching for properties online. Plus with virtual tours, you’ll have a sharp decrease in bounce rate since each virtual tour video lasts less than a minute, so visitors are likely to stay engaged on the site longer to see what you’re offering. This will all drive even more traffic to your site so that you can generate more leads while also increasing visibility!
Read More: Real Estate Virtual Tour Services In Chicago
It’s an excellent social media marketing tool!
Due to the popularity of social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, virtual tours are an excellent way for you to engage with potential buyers through these sites as well! You can post links and images of your virtual tours on these platforms to raise brand awareness, as many people will find it helpful when searching for properties that are similar to yours. Lastly, the cherry on top is that web visitors can share your virtual tours on their social media feeds for more visibility.
Personalized Property Viewing Experience
Having a virtual tour on your website is the next best thing to show off your properties in person. You can customize each property preview with photos and videos of the exterior and interior.. You can highlight key features about each property and answer any questions that potential buyers may have about things like floor plans, pricing, and benefits. Additionally, online viewers can zoom into certain aspects they’re interested in which is one of the primary benefits of 360 virtual tours. Each potential online buyer will have a personalized experience and a better idea of what your property is like, making them more informed about their decision.
You can easily customize your virtual tours to target specific demographics. You could highlight benefits like energy efficiency for certain types of buyers, make design changes based on buyer taste, or show benefits like outdoor space for those who prefer to stay active. This will help you close more deals as buyers are likely to be more interested in properties that target their specific preferences.
Overall, higher ROI
Virtual tours are a magnificent marketing tool for real estate agents and businesses to use, as they provide benefits like increased search engine rankings, better buyer experience, all leading to improved chances of selling the property. This coupled with lower marketing expenses, will result in a higher return on investment.
It’s Time To Grow Your Business With Virtual Tours
Proposing incredible property visuals to people who are looking for a home is a win-win situation. Developers and real estate brokers across the world are reaping enormous advantages by harnessing the power of virtual tours. By reaping these wonderful benefits of virtual tours, you’ll be able to generate more leads and close deals faster than ever before.
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Advantage of virtual tours in tourism industry
- About Industry
The COVID 19 pandemic has limited people to a large extent. They could not travel for long period of time or if they could travel, they were restricted to a great degree. The pandemic has also caused big losses to the tourism industry, but there is a way for tourism to sustain.
In this particular case, the key term to familiarize yourself with is virtual tourism. Virtual tourism is an immersive experience of any location, activity or destination around the world which can come to life through technology. It is linked to virtual reality through 3D technology , audio and video narration, various images and so on.
Advantages of virtual tourism:
The first advantage is that viewers can experience various global destinations from the comfort of their homes. They won’t be travel expenses limitations, flight or hotel availability and safety concerns. When it comes to travelling, majority of people are bounded by cost constrains and virtual tourism provides the opportunity for accessible “travelling” to everyone. Virtual tourism technology does not take away from real in-person tourism experiences. The technology is more precise and interesting than a simple brochure or a website.It increases the probability that viewers will want to visit in-person in the real locations. The immersive technology drives imagination and wishful thinking. Not to mention the ability to see the destination from 360-degree angle and all aspects can be showcased in high resolution. This technology is extremely beneficial for showcasing museums, attractions or hotel and restaurant interiors.
Examples of virtual tourism:
Many cities and destinations around the world have immersed in the 3D technology because of promotional benefits they gain. There are many real-life examples that have already been tested and proved to be very beneficial for the tourism industry: There is a live virtual walking tour of old town Dubrovnik, Croatia. It is live streaming for an hour and it takes you around the streets of Dubrovnik. While taking the tour you learn about the magnificent architecture, stories and history about the town. You can see some well-hidden local spots that you might not see in-person. Also, you can have a local guide from the comfort of your home.You can see more information about the tour on https://www.toursbylocals.com/ . During the COVID 19 pandemic, the Faroe Islands created a virtual tourism campaign to give people alternatives to travelling because of many restrictions. The idea was to provide international people the ability to explore the Faroe Islands through the eyes of the local people. It was achieved through immersive 3D technology.
Another example is Dubai 360, which is a virtual tourism guide of the city from the bird’s-eye perspective. This technology offers you the chance to learn about all important and interesting locations in the city. You can see and explore hotels, attractions, restaurants, and real estate.
Hotel virtual tourism trend:
Before offering virtual tours of your hotels, you must ask yourself who is your target audience? What makes your hotel stand out among competitors? What do you want to highlight from your hotel amenities? Answers to these questions will form your virtual tour content. There are many types of guests staying at each property, so virtual tours create an opportunity for custom made offerings for travelers. Use innovative 3D technology to highlight the uniqueness of your hotel and inform your guests at the same time.
The future of tourism industry:
Tourism industry must have a profitable and innovative way to bounce back from unpredictable times and to be resilient in general. This is where virtual tourism becomes a key aspect because it builds excitement and it offers solution for numerous destinations. It provides precise information and details so people can further explore their vacation options. Also, it is a great platform for people around the world to share their culture and learn about other people’s culture and heritage.
When it comes to virtual tours in tourism industry, the sky is the limit. You can customize your offerings and hire locals to be tourist guides. Give people the chance to get to know touristic destination from the comfort of their home and then accordingly plan their travels in the future.
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The Complete Guide to Virtual Tourism
With the COVID-19 pandemic limiting where people have been able to go over the past couple of years, hotels, destinations, and travelers alike have felt the effects.
However, creative marketing and new virtual offerings can make a big difference in the years to come. Virtual tourism and travel are taking off, and hotels and destinations that know how to capitalize on the trend will set themselves up for success as the world returns to normal and more and more travelers once again pack their bags.
Take a look at our expert advice below to learn all about virtual tourism and the benefits it can offer. Plus, explore examples from some of the top virtual tourism campaigns across the world.
What is virtual tourism?
Virtual tourism presents viewers with an immersive experience of an activity, location, or destination through the use of technology. There are tons of different types of virtual tourism offerings, but there's usually a combination of virtual reality, still images, video, audio, narration, interactivity, and other multimedia formats to provide an experience of a destination that a user cannot get through images or websites alone.
Viewers can access virtual tourism content using a virtual reality headset for the most immersive experience, but they can also usually view the content on a normal computer or even a mobile device.
What are the benefits of virtual tourism?
Because viewers can experience activities, locations, and destinations from the comfort of their own homes, there are many clear benefits to virtual tourism. The most obvious of these benefits is that viewers can see and experience a destination without traveling to it, which means they aren’t limited by available flights, travel logistics, safety concerns, and whether destinations are open. They don’t even have to think about time zones or weather conditions.
The other huge benefit for viewers is cost. Virtual tourism makes destinations accessible to millions of people who may otherwise not be able to afford to travel to them. Viewers are embracing the rise in virtual tourism destinations and the increasing quality and availability of virtual reality technology to see and experience things they never thought possible.
For hotels and destinations, the clear benefit is the ability to stay top-of-mind with potential customers and to highlight a location, amenities , and offerings. Viewers who have experienced a hotel or location through virtual tourism are more likely to book a future stay, and will eagerly anticipate experiencing the activity in the “real world.”
There are also great marketing opportunities offered by virtual tourism technology. Potential guests can see a 360-degree view of a property and its amenities, rather than the flat images on a brochure or website. Experiencing a property this way increases the chances that viewers will want to visit in the future, and means that they can easily share the virtual offerings with their friends and family.
And that’s not all. Virtual tourism has a handful of other benefits:
- The immersive experience allows the viewer to imagine themselves at a travel destination.
- The viewer can control what they see of a destination, experiencing 360 degrees of a location.
- All aspects of a destination can be showcased in high resolution.
- Hotels, Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) , and travel agencies can stand out from the crowd.
- The impact of tourism on vulnerable destinations is reduced.
How is virtual tourism used?
There are lots of great ways for hotels and destinations to take advantage of this technology and the demand for virtual tourism, and it goes well beyond COVID-19.
CVBs have been using virtual tourism for years to highlight the unique aspects of a location, including everything from history and culture to exciting activities, local attractions, and fun trivia.
Hotels, CVBs, and local governments use 360-degree VR video to capture everything about a destination in an immersive way. This lets viewers experience a remote mountaintop, an idyllic beach, a network of hiking trails, or a buzzing city with the press of a button.
VR photography, on the other hand, captures still images and pieces them together using specialized software, creating an immersive image where a user can look in any direction. This technology is great for showing hotel interiors, artwork, museum exhibits, and anything that can be fully experienced without motion or sound.
Finally, fully immersive VR experiences let users get in on the action, interacting with the environment and discovering more through their actions. This is often a curated experience focusing on one aspect of the location, like the food scene, music, history, or art. Virtual reality yoga classes, nature walks, stargazing, and bird watching have all become popular ways for a location to show off everything it has to offer.
What are some examples of virtual tourism?
Below are a handful of our favorite virtual tourism campaigns from across the world. While each campaign offers something different, the common theme is that each one was created to give users easy, safe, and interactive access to a location.
The Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands created a virtual tourism campaign once COVID-19 began to give people an alternative option to traveling to the location.
"Early on in this global crisis, we sat and wondered how we could recreate a Faroe Islands’ experience for those who had to cancel or postpone their trip to the Faroe Islands – and for everyone else stuck in insolation around the world," reads the virtual tourism segment on Faroe Islands' website . "We had an idea. What if we could allow people anywhere in the world to explore the islands as virtual tourists through the eyes of a local? Or even better; what if the virtual tourists could control the movements of the local in real time?"
Bristol From Home
Similar to the Faroe Islands, Visit Bristol (England) created an immersive experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bristol From Home features a collection of travelers' favorite ideas, inspirations, and resources "so that you can continue to enjoy Bristol, during social distancing measures, from the comfort of your own home."
The website features a myriad of virtual options, including tours of a luxury Victorian ship, hot-air balloon rides, gin tastings, and much more, all in one place.
Tour the awe-inspiring architecture of Dubai with Dubai 360 — an immersive virtual tourism experience that allows users to travel the city through a bird's-eye view and learn all about the locations scattered throughout.
"Our services help increase online presence, which is crucial to marketing anything in the present," reads Dubai360's website. "We aim to raise you above your competition by presenting a professional and high quality look, and improving your customers' first impressions. This service is equally useful for Hotels, Restaurants, Malls, Real Estate, or anything that can be presented visually."
Great Barrier Reef
Yes, even the Great Barrier Reef has virtual tourism offerings. The interactive journey is headlined by legendary broadcaster and historian, David Attenborough, who takes viewers throughout the world's largest coral reef system. This is much more than simply a replacement for Great Barrier Reef tours — it's an experience in and of itself, and it showcases just how versatile virtual tourism can be.
What does virtual tourism mean for the hospitality industry?
Virtual tourism is one of the many keys to the travel industry’s resilience and ability to bounce back from an unprecedented time. Showcasing everything that a property or destination has to offer is a great way to build excitement for “normal” travel and keep the destination top of mind once travelers are able to vacation again.
Virtual tourism has been lauded as a way for hotels and destinations to highlight the intangibles of their location, capturing the special feel of the place and drawing interest from travelers who might not otherwise consider it.
"A true gift of virtual travel is that we can safely and efficiently access experiences we've always wanted to access," Dennis Watkins, owner of The Magic Parlour in Chicago, said in an article for marthastewart.com. "People separated by oceans can look each other in the eyes and share stories, cultures, and ideas. When I do a show for a single family who logs in from London, Leeds, Norway, or Chicago, I start to see the power of the virtual space ... and I think we're just now starting to understand and leverage that power."
How can hotels capitalize on the virtual tourism trend?
To strategize how best to use virtual tourism, hotels should go back to the basics of their hotel marketing plan . What audience are you trying to reach? What amenities, offerings, or features make your hotel and its location unique and interesting? What aspects of your property or destination do you want to highlight? The answers to these questions will form the foundation of your virtual tourism offerings.
If you have a few experiences that guests return for time and time again, these are a great place to start with your virtual tourism experience. Give viewers a tour of your on-site vineyard, sandy beach, art deco decor, or spectacular views.
Because you can create many different virtual reality experiences, you can craft custom offerings for all of the different types of guests who stay at your property. A street art tour may be a perfect fit for young adult travelers, while an immersive symphony orchestra performance may be perfect for older guests. Try creating three or four experiences targeting guests who you would like to see at your hotel in the future, and follow through on the virtual experiences with custom packages, content marketing , and targeted informational emails.
As you craft your unique virtual tourism offerings, keep in mind that this medium isn’t limited to the traditional perspective with which your guests normally see your destination. With virtual tourism, guests could fly over your property in a hot air balloon, swim in your lake without getting wet, ski down to sit by a roaring fire in your lobby, or zip-line through the trees. By adding experiences that guests may not be able to get in person, you’ll move beyond the idea of replacing "real" travel.
Additionally, hotels can use the virtual tourism boom to appeal to planners and their event attendees as well. Not all offerings have to be limited to guests. Do you have a breathtaking ballroom with a state-of-the-art A/V system? What about extensive meeting space in your beachside bungalows? Utilize innovative 3D technology to create a virtual experience highlighting what sets you apart and creating demand.
In other words, the sky really is the limit when it comes to virtual tourism offerings. If you can think of an experience in the real world, you can likely recreate it in some fashion through virtual reality.
Now you know all about virtual tourism!
Bookmark our blog to stay up to date on all the trends and happenings from throughout the hospitality industry, as well as high-level overviews, industry-leading tips and advice, and much more.
Learn more about virtual tourism, travel, and events
Laura brings a decade of insight to improving marketing, as she has worked in technology since 2010. She has experience starting and scaling a business, driving customer marketing, and speaking at live events, including WeDC Fest 2018. She founded Describli and Paradigm Labs, and currently works with companies to improve their customer relationship management and content strategy.
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What Is VR Tourism and What Are Its Benefits?
You can use VR to visit far-away places virtually and help improve your actual experience when you get there. Here's how.
Virtual Reality (VR) allows users to experience simulated environments as if they're in the real world. With VR, you could experience far-off destinations' sights, sounds, and sensations without ever getting on a plane.
VR tourism has been gaining popularity in recent years, offering tourists an immersive and accessible way to explore the world. But is it worth doing?
Let's explore the world of VR tourism, what it is, and whether it's a worthwhile experience for avid travelers.
How VR Is Revolutionizing the Tourism Industry
VR devices are commonly associated with gaming, but they have a range of other applications. One of them is in the travel industry, which now allows people to explore the world virtually from their living rooms. It offers travelers an immersive and interactive experience of traveling to any part of the world.
Travelers around the world are taking a keen interest in virtual tourism. According to an estimate by Market Data Forecast , the Global Virtual Tourism Market is expected to reach approximately $847.95 billion by 2028. Meanwhile, the market's valuation for the year 2022 was around $385.75 billion.
VR technology creates a virtual environment that simulates actual tourist spots worldwide. You can experience them through VR headsets or glasses and enjoy these far-off destinations virtually. But it is only one instance of the use of VR in the tourism sector—there are many other uses of this tech in the industry.
For instance, VR can help tourists virtually explore a place before planning a trip. It would allow them to get familiar with the location's culture, know which things they should try, give them a better sense of what to expect, and increase their confidence in their choice. It can also be handy for marketing in the tourism sector and help travel guides attract more visitors.
Furthermore, VR technology offers an immersive experience for travelers unable to travel due to physical disabilities, health issues, or financial constraints. It can also help preserve natural and cultural heritage sites by reducing the number of physical visitors.
Moving forward, let's now focus on the different benefits of VR in tourism.
Create Virtual Travel Experiences
One of the main benefits of VR in tourism is the possibility of virtual travel experiences. You can experience a range of tourist spots, including religious sites, historic sites, and even places that still need to be fully developed for tourists. A range of VR technologies like VR headsets and glasses, 360-degree cameras, special video editing tools, and others allow you to enjoy these attractive sites without being in person.
Virtual traveling can eliminate many limitations for travelers, like budget constraints, physical limitations, or time constraints. You only need to invest in VR technologies, and you can avail immersive travel experiences of any destination worldwide.
With VR travel, you can get teleported anywhere you like and enjoy VR city tours with your friends and loved ones. And because you're not going through the trouble of transit, you don't need group planning apps that help make planning trips with friends and family easier.
However, virtual travel experiences are still uncommon as many people yearn for the authenticity of actual travel. The idea of virtual tourism, where you don't even have to pack your bags, can be puzzling to some. But if you want to try virtual travel, you should check out these free virtual travel experiences .
Use VR for Self-Guided Tours
VR technology and augmented reality (AR) devices can work as your personal tour guide. Although VR and AR are different technologies , they can work together to improve your tour. This especially benefits those who prefer solo travel or desire more privacy. VR tourism apps provide self-guided tours, allowing travelers to explore at their own pace.
VR travel apps for exploring , like the City Guide Tour , can provide you with information about destinations through object recognition features. For instance, if you are traveling in an unknown city, it might pinpoint tourist spots like museums, parks, and galleries and offer on-screen information related to them.
Additionally, translation apps let you talk to anyone, even in places where communication is a challenge. You can download languages to your phone, translating conversations in real time, even without a data connection. Therefore, you can communicate easily at markets, airports, or hotels.
Book Your Destination Using VR
The travel industry is getting even more exciting with the introduction of VR booking systems that provide users with an immersive environment for planning trips. These systems help you to plan your vacation in a better way. You can select your destination, hotel rooms, or plane seats through these AR and VR booking interfaces and even make payments.
Although yet to be widely used by travel agencies, several companies have introduced these services. Amadeus' VR travel search and booking experience is one excellent example that allows travelers to plan their entire trip virtually.
VRBookings.com is another example that offers vacation rental software to travel companies. This emerging trend could revolutionize the VR tourism industry by making the booking system more user-friendly and efficient.
Travelers could save time and money by using VR for booking and payment. At the same time, travel companies could reduce overhead costs and provide more personalized services to their customers. As this technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more innovative applications of AR and VR in the travel industry.
Take a Virtual Tour Before Booking Your Hotel
VR is not limited to the tourism industry but also offers unique features for the hospitality industry. You can take virtual hotel tours before deciding on whether to book. This lets you know what a hotel offers, its environment, recreational activities, and the overall experience. It lets you book a hotel according to your preferences and enjoy a personalized experience.
VR hotel room previews allow hotels to be more transparent about their services and attract more visitors, promoting their services worldwide. Many hotels, like Atlantis Dubai, highlight their lavish features through 360-degree video virtual tours. This innovative approach helps hotels stand out and ensures customers make informed decisions before booking, leading to a more enjoyable and memorable stay.
A Look Ahead at the Tourism Sector and VR
The global virtual tourism market is rapidly expanding thanks to the inventive use of virtual and augmented reality technology. Although VR tourism trips may feel strange to some, Virtual Reality can surely enhance your travel experiences.
VR tech can revolutionize the tourism industry by transforming how travelers plan and experience their trips. In the future, it could be used for destination marketing, creating personalized travel experiences, and enhancing in-destination experiences through immersive tours and interactive exhibits.
This technology can also help tourism boards attract more visitors and encourage them to stay longer. Travel companies, too, can create customized travel itineraries and offer travelers more engaging and memorable experiences. As technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more innovative applications of VR in the tourism industry.
15 Benefits of Virtual Reality In Tourism (2023)
Virtual reality (VR) technology is rapidly transforming the tourism industry by offering immersive and engaging experiences that allow tourists to explore destinations and attractions in new and innovative ways.
From virtual tours and simulations to training and skill development, VR is providing a wealth of benefits for tourism businesses and destinations alike.
In this article, we will explore 15 key benefits of virtual reality in tourism.
1. Enhanced Destination Marketing
Virtual reality (VR) technology allows tourism marketers to create immersive experiences that showcase destinations and attractions, giving potential visitors a taste of what they can expect.
With VR, marketers can create interactive videos, 3D models, and virtual tours that transport viewers to the destination and provide a sense of its unique features and attractions.
This enhanced destination marketing can help to increase awareness and interest in a destination, driving more visitors and tourism revenue.
2. Increased Engagement
VR can provide a more engaging and interactive experience for tourists, enhancing their interest and enthusiasm for a particular destination.
With VR, tourists can explore destinations in a more immersive and interactive way, experiencing sights, sounds, and even smells that are not possible with traditional media.
This increased engagement can help to create a stronger emotional connection with the destination, making tourists more likely to visit and recommend it to others.
3. Accessible Tourism
VR can make tourism more accessible to people with disabilities or limited mobility, allowing them to experience destinations and attractions they may not have been able to before.
With VR, people with physical or sensory impairments can explore destinations in a virtual environment, making it possible to experience the sights and sounds of a place without the physical barriers that may prevent them from visiting in person.
4. Time and Cost Savings
Virtual reality can save time and money for both tourists and tourism businesses. With VR, tourists can explore destinations and attractions without the need for expensive travel and accommodation, making it possible to experience multiple destinations in a short amount of time.
For tourism businesses, VR can reduce the costs of creating physical marketing materials and can help to attract visitors who may not have otherwise considered the destination.
5. Improved Planning and Decision-making
VR can provide tourists with a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of a destination, helping them to make more informed decisions about where to go and what to do.
With VR, tourists can explore destinations and attractions in detail, seeing how they fit into the larger context of the destination and its culture.
This can help tourists to plan their trips more effectively, ensuring that they make the most of their time and money.
6. Enhanced Customer Experience
VR can help tourism businesses to enhance the customer experience, providing visitors with more personalized and engaging interactions.
With VR, tourism businesses can create immersive and interactive experiences that allow visitors to explore destinations and attractions in a more engaging and memorable way.
This can help to create a stronger emotional connection with the destination and the business, leading to increased loyalty and repeat business.
7. Reduced Environmental Impact
Virtual reality can help to reduce the environmental impact of tourism by reducing the need for physical travel and the associated carbon emissions.
With VR, tourists can explore destinations and attractions without the need for air travel, reducing their carbon footprint and contributing to a more sustainable tourism industry.
8. Improved Safety and Security
VR can provide a safer and more secure way to explore destinations and attractions, particularly in areas with high levels of crime or political instability.
With VR, tourists can explore destinations in a virtual environment, avoiding the physical risks associated with travel to these areas.
This can also help to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries, particularly in activities such as adventure tourism.
Learn More: VR Safety Training
9. Enhanced Education and Cultural Understanding
VR can provide tourists with an enhanced understanding of the culture and history of a destination, helping them to appreciate its unique features and attractions.
With VR, tourists can explore historical and cultural sites in a more immersive and interactive way, allowing them to learn about the destination in a more engaging and memorable way.
This can help to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of different cultures and can contribute to more responsible and sustainable tourism.
10. Increased Access to Remote Destinations
Virtual reality can help to increase access to remote or hard-to-reach destinations that may not have been accessible before.
With VR, tourists can explore destinations that are difficult to reach due to their distance, rugged terrain, or lack of infrastructure.
This can help to open up new destinations and attractions to tourism, increasing tourism revenue and contributing to economic development in these areas.
11. Improved Training and Skill Development
VR can provide a valuable tool for training and skill development in the tourism industry.
With VR, tourism businesses can create immersive and interactive VR training simulations that allow staff to learn and practice new skills in a realistic and engaging way.
This can help to improve the quality of service provided by tourism businesses, leading to increased customer satisfaction and repeat business.
12. Enhanced Sustainability
Virtual reality can help to promote sustainability in the tourism industry by reducing the impact of tourism on the environment and local communities.
With VR, tourists can explore destinations and attractions without the need for physical travel, reducing the carbon emissions and environmental damage associated with tourism.
Additionally, VR can help to promote more responsible and sustainable tourism practices by highlighting the environmental and social impacts of tourism and encouraging tourists to make more sustainable choices.
13. Increased Revenue and Profitability
Virtual reality can help tourism businesses to increase revenue and profitability by attracting more visitors and enhancing the customer experience.
With VR, tourism businesses can create immersive and engaging experiences that set them apart from competitors and encourage visitors to stay longer and spend more money.
This can help to increase tourism revenue and profitability, leading to greater economic benefits for the destination and its stakeholders.
14. Improved Crisis Management
Virtual reality can provide a valuable tool for crisis management in the tourism industry, particularly in the event of natural disasters or other emergencies.
With VR, tourism businesses and emergency services can create simulations of different crisis scenarios, allowing them to practice and refine their response strategies in a safe and controlled environment.
This can help to improve the effectiveness of crisis response and reduce the impact of emergencies on tourists and the local community.
15. Innovative and Future-Proofed Marketing
Virtual reality represents an innovative and future-proofed approach to destination marketing that can help tourism businesses to stay ahead of the curve.
With VR, tourism businesses can create immersive and interactive experiences that capture the attention of potential visitors and showcase the unique features and attractions of a destination.
This can help to create a strong brand identity for the destination and position it as a leader in the tourism industry.
Final Thoughts Benefits of Virtual Reality In Tourism:
In conclusion, virtual reality is providing a wealth of benefits for the tourism industry, from enhancing the customer experience and increasing revenue to promoting sustainability and improving crisis management.
By leveraging VR technology, tourism businesses and destinations can create immersive and engaging experiences that set them apart from competitors and position them as leaders in the industry.
As VR technology continues to evolve and become more accessible, we can expect to see even more innovative and exciting applications of VR in tourism, offering new opportunities for growth and development in the industry.
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Everything You Need to Know About Virtual Tourism Companies in 2023
Home » Travel Tech » Everything You Need to Know About Virtual Tourism Companies
Virtual tourism refers to a specific tourism niche using technology that enables travelers to experience activities, locations, and destinations without leaving their homes . The types of virtual tours depend on the multimedia format offered to travelers. It can be anything ranging from still images, video, and audio to interactive virtual reality.
The popularity of virtual tourism spiked with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic . The pandemic had limited where people could go, forcing travelers to look for alternative options.
Thanks to these particular developments, many travelers had an opportunity to experience virtual tourism for the first time . And it appeared attractive as it removed all kinds of limitations associated with travel, such as available flights, accommodation, tour guides, safety concerns, and others.
Virtual tourism benefits travelers and the travel industry as a whole. It enables companies to launch immersive marketing campaigns, facilitate the promotion of specific destinations or activities, improve the planning of tourist attractions, and enhance the travel experience.
Since this is an emerging travel niche, you are probably eager to learn more about virtual tourism companies. Below you can find out what these companies are and how they operate and discover the crucial stats . You will also learn about their challenges and go through 10 top virtual tourism companies nowadays.
Virtual Tourism Companies
Let’s start with something as basic as what virtual tourism companies are and then build up towards how they operate, make money, and the advantages and disadvantages of virtual tours.
What is a virtual tour company?
A virtual tour company specializes in delivering virtual experiences to travelers . Generally speaking, there are two types of virtual tour companies. Some create their own virtual tour experiences and sell them to end consumers . However, some virtual tour companies act as marketplaces enabling experts to stream virtual tours through their platforms.
You should also pay attention to one specific type of virtual tour company. These companies don’t work with end consumers. Their target customers are major players in the travel sector, including other travel companies looking for vendors specializing in creating multimedia formats on request.
How virtual tourism companies operate
Since no uniform business model exists in the niche, it’s impossible to pinpoint one universal blueprint for how virtual tourism companies operate. The most classic approach you’ll see in Airbnb Online Experiences is creating a marketplace for virtual tourism multimedia format creators . It allows the creators to publish their virtual experiences and invite travelers to join them.
Some, such as Google Arts & Culture, operate as repositories . In this specific instance, a repository of the world’s art and culture.
Finally, virtual tourism companies specializing in creating and producing multimedia formats are devoted to using new tech to improve the experience and enable consumers to fully immerse themselves in everything a destination offers.
Overview of how virtual tours make money
There are several ways virtual tours make money. Even if you publish a virtual tour for free online, you can earn money through online ad programs. The most obvious money-making method for virtual tours is to market them as premium products . That’s how virtual tours become a legit travel product; consumers can search for, compare, and purchase.
Premium virtual tours can also make money for travel companies through commission rates . For instance, a virtual tour marketplace can make money by enabling creators to publish their virtual experiences.
Finally, virtual tour creators can make money selling their tours to other travel companies that don’t have access to experts or have time and budgets to create virtual tours on their own.
Advantages and disadvantages of virtual tours
Virtual tours, like their real-life counterparts, have a set of their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Let’s review the most noteworthy ones.
The advantages of virtual tours go as follows:
- Convenience – people can visit available destinations and experience attractions from any place they like
- Accessibility – consumers limited by disability or health issues can now immerse into experiences otherwise unavailable to them or available at high risks and efforts
- Flexibility and freedom – you can pause/play most of the virtual tours and continue where you’ve left off the next time
- Affordability – compared to standard tourism tours, virtual ones are significantly more affordable
- Low environmental impact – regarding eco-friendliness, virtual tours have a considerably lower environmental impact than standard tours.
On the other hand, virtual tours have disadvantages of their own as well:
- No physical interaction – tourists are unable to interact with fellow travelers or interact with various aspects of the destination;
- There are still technical limitations – technical issues can potentially ruin the experience;
- Lack of information – multimedia formats can be outdated and provide fewer details or inaccurate information;
- No to limited social interaction – some multimedia formats limit social interaction, which is an integral part of the travel experience for some individuals;
- Limited monetization potential – only virtual tours can be monetized, which leaves out the entire economy at a destination.
Stats about the success of virtual tours
The virtual tourism market is blooming. According to the latest reports , the global virtual tourism market reached $385.75 billion in 2022. The same reports indicate that the market will register a CAGR of 14.34% during the next five years to finally reach the size of $847.95 billion by 2028 .
People are generally satisfied with virtual tourism tours. In fact, 73% of travelers who had experience with virtual travel are happy with the experience and would like to repeat it in the future. Online exhibits are particularly popular nowadays. According to the latest reports , online exhibit viewership has increased by a whopping 4,106%.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual tours became super popular. The number of booked virtual events increased by 1,000% by 2020 . Be mindful, though, that it doesn’t only include virtual tourism products but work conferences, industry events, and college classes as well.
Finally, modern travelers’ needs, wants, and expectations are shifting. They’ve discovered that virtual tours are easier to attend and more cost-efficient. A survey found that 84% of consumers wanted a virtual option for events .
10 examples of virtual tourism companies
Below you can find 10 examples of virtual tourism companies. Each one of them is unique in terms of the types of available virtual tours and used tech.
Airbnb Online Experiences
Airbnb Online Experiences is a virtual tour platform under the renowned Airbnb brand enabling travelers to connect with people across borders and experience places and activities .
The main focus is on live special events hosted by experts. When it comes to technology, Airbnb decided to use a trustworthy tech stack with Zoom at the center of its operations.
The platform acts as a marketplace for online experiences enabling creators to earn money while commission goes to Airbnb. Online experience hosts have earned more than $2 million just a couple of months after the platform launch, and 82% of consumers say that Online Experiences are engaging and unique.
Notable partnerships or collaborations include Okta, Tonkean, automate.io, Guesty, and many others.
Airbnb has a great self-service Help Center with dedicated sections for Host, Experience Hosts, Guests, and Travel admins.
“One of my favorite features of the Airbnb platform is the special class of Experiences for social enterprises and NGOs.” – WanderLush
The Airbnb Online Experiences’ is unique because it focuses on social interactions. Social interaction is a vital aspect of the travel experience.
Google Arts & Culture
Google Arts & Culture is a virtual tourism branch of tech giant Google . We are talking about a comprehensive platform where consumers can access high-quality images and videos of artworks and cultural artifacts.
The platform offers various multimedia materials, including images, videos, interactive games, and written copies.
This web-based platform has an excellent mobile port available to both Android and iPhone users. Some experiences even feature AR elements.
When it comes to revenue and financial metrics, you should know that Google Arts & Culture is a non-commercial initiative.
Over the years, Google Arts & Culture built a network of partnerships, including The British Museum, Guggenheim Bilbao, MoMA, and thousands of others .
“One of the many engaging components of Google Arts & Culture app is the AR feature that allows users with newer smartphones to view real-size artwork in their own environments.” – Commonsensemedia
The strongest perk of this platform is the availability of a dedicated mobile app. With Arts & Culture mobile app, you can enjoy immersive experiences wherever you are.
YouVisit is a virtual tour company that creates immersive experiences for brands and their audiences. EAB recently acquired the company. However, it continues to strive towards excellence maintaining its position as one of the leaders in the niche.
YouVisit specializes in creating 360 Virtual Tours, Ultimate Virtual Tours, and interactive web content .
The company uses the Aria platform, which is the leading enterprise solution for interactive 360 experiences.
In terms of customer support and accessibility, YouVitis offers an o nline contact form, getting-started guides, FAQs, and a self-service help center for technical support.
“A great tool for attracting new leads, providing the information they may need, and analyzing metrics…all while creating an interactive and immersive campus experience.” – Capterra
Using the Aria platform enables YouVisit to create realistic tours and communicate useful information about important buildings, activities, and other aspects of a tour.
VR Gorilla is a virtual reality production studio that creates immersive VR experiences from scratch. If you need a VR experience, you should check out this company – they focus on filming and creating great VR materials.
VR Gorilla uses state-of-the-art cameras and software to deliver captivating VR footage. The company charges its clients for photoshoots, video recording sessions, and VR post-production .
So far, the company has worked with DSM, Amsterdam UMC, Erasmus MC, Jeroen Bosch Hospital, and many others.
In terms of communication, VR Gorilla offers an online contact form. They also maintain open lines of communication with their clients.
“We were looking for VR software possibilities and came across VR Gorilla. They helped us out in the best way possible! Great experience with and a great staff. Definitely recommended!” – Google My Business
VR Gorilla team has experience as filmmakers , which makes their experiences really immersive thanks to the powerful storytelling elements.
Haptical is a web portal focused on delivering important VR and AR-related news to consumers, including those interested in virtual tourism.
Although headquartered in Nevada City, California, Haptical covers every crucial bit of information and keeps its subscribers up to date with the latest development in the niche.
TimeLooper is a pioneer in interpretive experience design, delivering mesmerizing virtual tours . The company enables consumers to explore trails and cultures and also learn.
TimeLooper leverages web and mobile technologies and combines them with high-quality videos, images, 3D renders, GIS mapping, holographic imaging, VR, and AR to deliver next-level virtual tours.
TimeLooper’s business model is based on both premium and free content. Currently, the company is self-financed, producing and selling virtual tours to clients across all continents .
The company offers support via a contact form on its official website and through phone calls.
TimeLooper leverages storytelling to captivate viewers and make them want to stay and explore every virtual tour in its entirety.
Wild Within VR
Wild Within VR is a product launched by one of the largest tourism organizations in North America – Destination British Columbia. This interactive 360 video enables travelers to experience nature as if they were there themselves.
The Wild Within VR delivers realistic 360 footage. It’s most famous for the two adventures taking place in British Columbia, Canada.
The company uses modern cameras and post-production software to create videos compatible with various VR headsets.
“I love it. It feels like I’m really there. More destinations, please!” – Oculus
One of the best things about Wild Within VR is that it offers different types of adventures to meet the expectations of many fellow travelers and adventurers.
As a virtual tourism company, Unbounded creates immersive 360 experiences . Its primary focus is to introduce viewers to peculiar attractions in popular destinations.
Unbounded uses high-quality videos and photos to deliver realistic 360 virtual tours . The AR introduces that interactive element to virtual experiences, making them more engaging. The company established a stable revenue stream through direct sales.
Virtually Visiting is a virtual tourism company launched by a team of travel and technology experts . The company created a dedicated 360 virtual tour platform consumers can use to explore destinations and engage in adventures.
Visiting virtual tours is all about discovering nature, landscapes, and unique architecture. The primary multimedia the company uses is videos professionally shot with the latest 360 cameras .
Since it runs a marketplace, the company is focused on generating revenue through direct sales and commissions. Consumers and partner companies have access to FAQs and contact forms if they need assistance from one of the company’s representatives.
“The experience you’ll get is as close to the real thing as you can possibly make it. These are real tours and experiences delivered by the best guides in the business.” – Globetender
Virtually Visiting ensures professionals edit all 360 guided tours on their marketplace to deliver a consistent experience to consumers.
Advantages and Challenges of Virtual Tourism
Virtual tourism as a travel niche also has advantages and challenges, as all other tourism sub-sectors do. Here are some unique advantages and challenges of virtual tourism.
Advantages for travelers and travel agents
There are several advantages for travelers only virtual tourism can offer. We’ve already mentioned that virtual tours are more cost-efficient and easier to attend – not to mention the convenience of engaging with virtual tours . Travelers can do it from any device and even while on the go. They can cross over must-visit places in their bucket lists even when on a budget.
There is something for travel agents as well. Sourcing new travel products is time-consuming, and it implies increased operational costs, especially when you need to streamline some of the logistics . As a travel agent, you can leverage virtual tours to easily add new destinations to your offer.
Virtual tourism can help travel agents cut through the noise . They make excellent marketing material you can share across social media channels, websites, email, or direct online communication.
Since virtual tours are a multimedia format, you can add a Google Analytics tracking code to track the consumers’ behavior on your website . It can help you discover the most popular tours and which parts of a specific tour are the most effective. You can leverage this information to generate more leads.
Challenges and limitations
First of all, virtual tourism is the youngest member of the vast travel industry family. Although virtual tours are gaining in popularity, many people still prefer using virtual tours to find out more about a specific destination or attraction so they can make informed decisions .
Other challenges and limitations of virtual tourism come from the disadvantages of virtual tours. Technology is the major challenge here. In fact, 30% of people are worried about technical issues that may occur during a virtual tour.
Virtual tourism can’t offer anything beyond the visual experience. Travelers still can’t have a sensory experience of actually being there physically. The ambient smells and tactile sensations are still out of the virtual tourism equation.
Many world destinations have economies that depend on tourists actually visiting and staying. Virtual tourism can potentially negatively affect economies.
How virtual tourism can complement traditional tourism
There are many ways virtual tourism can complement traditional tourism . First, it can play an essential role in promoting destinations throughout the world. Virtual tours are far more immersive than any other media type available to travelers.
Consumers can now get a sneak peek of an attraction, destination, or activity before visiting in person . It can enable them to make the right choice and visit the place they find particularly encaptivating.
Then there is Augmented Reality. It enables travelers to see digital elements in the real-world environment. The AR can provide additional information at the location to make the experience more memorable or offer personalized information to deliver the next level of customer care.
Best Practices for Virtual Tourism Companies
While there are many strategies virtual tourism companies can pursue, not all of them bear the same results. Which ones are worth the time and money put into them? Below you can find the best practices for virtual tourism companies.
Importance of customer experience
Customer experience should always come first . First of all, virtual tours must be optimized to be available to all consumers despite the bandwidth of their internet connection or the device they use. Next, the emphasis here is on immersion.
The visual experience has to be immersive to hold the viewers’ attention in place for the duration of the virtual tour. The best way to deliver a great customer experience is to offer engaging, interactive virtual tours, which brings us to the next best practice.
Strategies for creating engaging and interactive virtual tours
All strategies for creating engaging and interactive virtual tours involve using top-quality visual and audio material. The best virtual tourism companies also have a detailed plan before engaging in such an activity . The plan includes details about the multimedia type. For instance, whether to use 360 degrees pictures generated from a 3D model or panoramic 360-degree image.
Next, interactive features include interactive flipbooks, guided selling, marketing games, and AR-based interactive videos.
The final strategy revolves around creating the best possible customer journey. You must put yourself in the travelers’ shoes and think about what they want to see, hear, learn, and engage with.
Collaboration with travel agents and online travel agencies
Finally, successful virtual tourism companies collaborate with travel agents and travel agencies . Why is this important? It’s not only about distributing virtual tours to end consumers. The collaboration creates new revenue opportunities for all parties.
Virtual tourism companies can discover demand trends and customer experience expectations thanks to travel agents’ and travel agencies’ data. They can also consolidate marketing efforts and achieve better results through improved conversion rates and lead generation.
Virtual tourism is an important piece of the entire travel industry puzzle. It provides new opportunities for consumers to discover and explore never-before-visited locations in a cost- and time-efficient manner. It plays the convenience card to invite consumers to engage in immersive experiences.
Thanks to virtual tourism, the travel sector can now launch engaging and interactive marketing campaigns , reduce the impact of tourism on vulnerable destinations, allow travel agents and agencies to stand out from the crowd , and provide travel experiences to people who can’t travel.
What about the future prospects and opportunities for virtual tourism companies? It’s obvious that virtual tourism was not just a mere COVID hype . While virtual tourism companies can continue the current course as it generates revenue, they should also explore the new opportunities delivered by Metaverse, such as VR vacations.
A virtual tour company is a business that specializes in creating interactive walk-through experiences. In the travel sector, virtual tour companies create multimedia materials related to a destination, transportation, accommodation, activity, or attraction to create immersive experiences.
Virtual tours don’t necessarily need to cost money. When used in marketing, virtual tours are completely free for consumers. However, as a travel product, virtual tours come with a price tag and require consumers to purchase them to gain access. If you want to create a virtual tour, you will need to pay a fee to the virtual tour company to complete the project for you.
A virtual tour can make money in two ways. It can generate profit when sold directly to a consumer as a travel product, or it can generate money through commission rates when listed on a reputable virtual tour marketplace.
While engaging and immersive, virtual tours have a few disadvantages, such as the lack of physical interaction, technical limitations, the potential impact on local economies, and limited social interaction.
Virtual tours are pretty successful. Over 70% of travelers who experience virtual travel are satisfied with virtual tours. The global virtual tourism market size is projected to reach $847.95 billion by 2028 .
Virtual tourism has a positive effect on traditional tourism. It streamlines the promotion of new destinations, enables consumers to experience destinations before getting there, improves customer experience, and helps create memorable experiences.
The most obvious way to benefit from virtual tourism as a travel agent or agency would be to use virtual tours in marketing campaigns. It makes marketing travel experiences more effective, boosting conversion rates and generating leads.
Art galleries, museums, hotels, wildlife parks, nature parks, zoos, historical sights, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, cities, monuments, ancient structures, and various activities are all suited for virtual tourism.
Since virtual reality technology enables virtual tourism experiences, the impact of tech is enormous. It’s safe to assume that with better and more affordable tech, virtual tourism experiences will get significantly more available and better in the future.
Mize is an AI-driven Travel-tech startup company that allows travel companies to increase their hotel bookings’ profits by more than 35%, optimizing their purchasing rates post-booking in a fully automated procedure. Mize monitors and processes millions of bookings and billions of US$ value each year.
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What is virtual tourism and when should you make use of it?
- Håvard Utheim
- December 11, 2020
- English , Product development , Storytelling , Technology
The French philosopher Olivier Clerc once described the “boiled frog-syndrome”. If you put a frog into a pot of cold water and slowly warm it up, the frog will lie completely still until it gets cooked. The frog is passive because it doesn’t notice the gradual change of temperature. But if you drop the frog in boiling water, it will immediately try to jump out. It survives because it instinctively responds to a shocking change. This metaphor fits well with many tourism companies that for years have stayed more or less passive while the world around them has changed. The virus poured boiling water into the pot of an entire industry. Suddenly many have to fight with everything they have for further existence.
They need to jump out of the boiling pot.
It has been interesting to see the steps that different players in the industry have made over the last month. Digital recreation of physical experiences stands out to me. Up until mid March, virtual tourism experiences were something only a handful of innovative travel companies used in their marketing. Interest has now exploded among both tour operators and destinations. And this is despite the fact that the technology has been available for a long time. Since Google Earth the world has never been the same, and the same can be said about the entry of YouTube – also owned by Google. Google is a virtual tourism locomotive.
In this article I will explain the meaning of virtual experiences within travel and tourism.
- What are virtual experiences and virtual tourism
- Types of virtual tourism and virtual experiences
- Pros and cons of virtual tourism
- A quick summary
- How to get started
- Examples of virtual tourism
1 What are virtual experiences and virtual tourism?
The term virtual experiences describes “physical” or “real” experiences that are recreated or mediated through the use of technology. We’re not talking about a technological experience, but a technological version of something that you can experience in real life. One creates the illusion of being present by using a digital medium. We can probably distinguish between virtual experiences and virtual reality (virtual reality/VR) where the experience lies in the technology itself. Virtual tourism or virtual tourism experiences is the use of technology to artificially create or enhance an experience for tourists.
Since we’re talking about experiences, I want to clarify one thing. For the sake of simplicity, I write “physical experiences”, and what I mean by that is that you are physically present. But an experience is somewhat abstract, an individual process, and cannot by nature be physical as a product. You experience something. Within experiential theories, one often operates with certain characteristics to distinguish experiences from physical products:
An experience is:
- Intangible – that means you can’t touch, hold or store an experience. So you can’t try the experience before you buy.
- Heterogeneous – this means that each and every experience is unique and difficult to standardize. This means that each individual’s perception of quality is influenced by external factors such as weather, mood, service and other tourists.
- Perishable – it means the experience arises and disappears. It cannot be reused or stored. If you have vacancies, they cannot be used later.
- Inseparable – because the consumption of the experience happens at the same moment as the production. This makes it difficult to control the quality.
It is also common to imagine tourist experiences in two halfs. The first half focuses on the degree of customer participation, while the other half addresses the physical presence. How memorable the experience is, is largely about the physical and emotional participation and presence of the travelers. This is important to consider, because virtual recreation will be challenging. It provides guidance on what to preserve from the original experience. After all, online tourist experiences make it possible to experience an attraction or destination without physically traveling there. So we can say that video also is a form of virtual experience. You can both see and hear from the experience without being there.
Nevertheless, a well-functioning virtual experience will require a certain kind of interaction where you can influence how you experience the surroundings. You don’t usually get that with video. For example, you can put on your headset and 3D glasses and move around the room, or click around and change your perspective. You can also go even further by using props. This might include wearing gloves that record your movements and allow you to “touch” or choose things. A kind of interaction. It’s also possible to recreate some physical aspects. An example is new cinemas where you sit on a roller coaster with movable chairs. Or you are on a safari and are being showered with water, or odors flow into the room. Online experiences will have the ability to scale in larger volumes, you can also eliminate external factors that affect the quality. There are some opportunities here. But you also risk losing authenticity.
Virtual experiences, of course, comprise much more than the tourism industry. Real estate agents, for instance, have come a long way. You can easily buy an apartment without having seen it, many new buildings manage to recreate the feeling of walking through a home satisfactorily. Many use it for simulations, such as offshore or in industry. But schools also use it. I remember that the navigation classes in Kristiansund high school used it as early as 25 years ago. Virtual reality recreation has become a major part of everyday life and society. In the video game industry it have come further and probably affects most of what happens. Flight simulators and role playing games are good examples of that.
In the travel industry, virtual tourism and virtual reality (VR) have mostly been used as marketing tools. Destinations, attractions and operators have been using VR to attract the interest of travelers for quite some time, and we have seen a growth in the use of technology as an addition to physical experiences. Most museums have limited floor and wall space and can combine physical exhibits with virtual art or stored objects. They can also enhance exhibitions with presentations, stories and more.
2 Types of virtual tourism and virtual experiences
Like everything else in life, the virtual comes in many different shapes and sizes. We can divide this into a few main categories:
You can visit real places without leaving home
Google Earth has paved the way for other types of virtual tourism. Google Earth lets you explore areas around the world at the touch of a button. Whether you want to try to find your own house or visit Central Park, almost every part of the world has been documented by Google’s camera. Many companies, destinations and attractions also employ technology to let you visit a specific area.
You can explore areas and plan trips
Archaeologists have found buried villages by studying satellite imagery from Google Earth. I have used similar images to find potential surf spots along the coast.
One can visit areas that are inaccessible
Not all areas of the world can be visited, at least not visited by everyone. There are many reasons for this. The areas can be remote, they can be closed for tourists, or it can be dangerous to go there. Not everyone can climb Mount Everest or dive great deep seas. With virtual tourism you can go anywhere! This is enough excitement for many of us. For some it can ease the pain of not going there, or make you even more excited to go. Imagine how this technology could make everyday life a little more enjoyable in nursing homes.
You can try before you buy
Clothing stores have fitting rooms, electronics stores have their walls covered with TV-screens. Customers want to know what they are buying, especially when the price is high. It gives potential customers the opportunity to explore before they decide whether to purchase. One of the special features of experiences is that nothing is tangible. You can’t try it in advance, so in a way you can say that technology gives more freedom of action. Travelers often rely on reviews and information from other travelers and writers. Done correctly you can take back some of the control over what kind of information being spread about your destination. Many have achieved great success with this form of marketing, and we will be seeing much more of it in the future. Let travelers take a tour of your hotel or bike path!
You can go back in time
You do not need to limit the technology to recreate the present. One of the major technological benefits of virtual tourism is the ability to recreate destinations or attractions of the past. Using current images along with historical images and data algorithms, developers can design software that allows tourists to experience ancient times. Some programs allow you to transport yourself to any time or place you want. It’s pretty greasy. It is not just tourism players that develop this kind of software. Archaeologists, universities, schools and other intermediaries have a lot of gossip here. We’ve got the Viking Planet here in Norway, and I think we’ll see a lot more like it in the future.
You can visit places that doesn’t exist
The most extreme type of virtual tourism is one that hasn’t taken off around here yet, is the opportunity to visit non-existent areas. Second Life is the most well-known platform offering this type of virtual tourism. It’s an online world where you can create a virtual representation of yourself, an avatar, and connect with different places and people. This has already been big in Asia for a while.
You can enhance the on-site experience.
This is a bit on the side of virtual tourism, but still close enough, so I’ll include it. Imagine walking around the terrain and then you can see a howler or a troll. You can see the battle of Gettysburg or see a viking ship enter the fjord. AR technology enables things like this. Norwegian companies such as Bædi and Børdi or Hidden have exciting concepts going on and I hope they find a way to succeed in the competition. The potential is huge. It’s the same principles that applies as with Pokemon Go. You can also add information to the street you walk on. It’s sort of a virtual tour guide providing extra information. There are countless variants of this already out there. It’s also possible for local shops to market with it.
Courses and webinars
This is also a bit outside of what is meant by virtual tourism, but I still include it because it has great utility for tourism players. Arranging courses, especially nature-based, has previously required participants to be physically present. With the help of technology it has been possible to move these courses online. This means that you have the chance to reach wider, and you have more flexibility while still having the opportunity to interact. At the same time, there are many things you still cannot recreate, for example the right paddle technique and how to physically climb up a kayak after a roll over. The courses will have to possess a slightly different character. But it’s a great opportunity to reach wider, and you’ll increase the chances of them visiting you later. A great and relevant example is the Norwegian guiding company Uteguiden who recently launched the Utewebinar-platform, performing avalanche courses and other outdoor-courses online.
3 Advantages and Disadvantages of Virtual Tourism
Here are some benefits of virtual tourism
- Since virtual tourism is often used as a marketing tool, it has the potential to stimulate actual tourism. As before mentioned, it gives the customers the opportunity to try before they buy, and if you do a good job here, the customer might want the real deal. And it opens inaccessible areas for people. Even though I want to climb Everest, I don’t see it happening for a while.
- This also applies to many other areas. We can use virtual aids to prepare the customer ahead of the journey. Visualization of a track is very common among athletes. Imagine how you ahead of the trip can guide your customer through the route to Kilimanjaro or Machu Picchu. Simulation and training.
- The tourist saves money by going virtual. Most of it is still free, but it’s starting to get good enough to pay for. It is a different product, but still an experience that gives the customer value.
- By taking a virtual trip, you obviously have more freedom and flexibility in terms of both time and place. You can sit at home and watch the Northern Lights dance across the sky or move among Mayan ruins in Mexico. You hardly need to take time off from work to do it.
- One of the good things about virtual tourism is that it has very little impact on the environment. Travel life accounts for huge emissions and this is of course minimized when the tourist doesn’t actually travel. Virtual tourism means less CO2 emissions from transportation, less garbage, less flora and fauna wear and less disruption to natural ecology and wildlife.
- It also means that there are fewer negative social consequences from tourism.
- You can promote the destination better if local players are on board. It gives the customer a better overview before they leave and you may get more enthusiastic customers.
- You can add value to customers on the trip.
- This can contribute to a better customer experience and not least contribute more money locally.
Here are some disadvantages of virtual tourism
- No matter how you look at it, the virtual is just a recreation of reality. You see this reality/world through the “eyes” of the creator and might miss relevant information.
- The creator often will have an agenda.
- Virtual tourism does not provide the economic benefits that traditional tourism does. Traditional tourism provides good revenue for the host destination, and these revenues are one of the main reasons that the areas even facilitate tourism.
- Virtual tourism is not available to everyone. Not everyone has access to the digital surfaces required to implement it. And many parts of the world do not have good enough internet to provide a good experience. This is not limited to developing countries either, people in most countries will have poor internet.
- One of the more obvious disadvantages of virtual tourism is that it involves limited social interaction. Much of the experience of traveling is the people you meet. You will miss the energy and many of the qualities that make the experience unique.
So a virtual experience will never be the same. It’s not wrong, just something else.
4 A quick summary of virtual experiences. Should you use it?
Virtual tourism has grown and developed in recent years as an industry parallel to technological advances and the use of smart tourism. However, the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent social isolation have given it explosive growth. There is a wide variety of virtual opportunities for those interested, from visiting the deepest seas to climbing the world’s highest mountains.
With this comes some advantages and some disadvantages that one must always bear in mind. All in all, this is an area that has experienced unexpected and unique growth, and more research is needed in this area in order to understand the opportunities even better. Can we improve our marketing in a way that makes the tourists experiences match their expectations? Can we create a more sustainable tourism life? It gives opportunities for more people to explore the world. Some of these will be inspired to more traveling while some will probably be satisfied from the online experience.
One thing is sure. Virtual experiences have come to stay, and you decide whether you want to join in and take advantage of the opportunities that exist .
What is your main motivation for creating virtual experiences? Think carefully about it..
- Are you looking for short-term profits to solve challenges during the crisis? It’s not that simple. It takes time to make money. Nothing is impossible, and you will get a marketing effect from it. But I would rethink my approach. Your reason for doing it should be more long-term.
- Do you want to use virtual experiences for marketing? Then you have some great opportunities. But remember to consider it along with other marketing. If you are an agent and don’t have any regular tours, virtual marketing will be more or less pointless. Use the materials of your partners instead. But if you have a hotel or are promoting a specific trip or destination, then virtual marketing should be a no-brainer. We’re going to see a lot of it in the future. And you have every opportunity to become the best at it.
- Looking for your own virtual products to sell online? Well, it’s not easy and you need to think like online stores in order to succeed. That being said, everyone can a hang of it if they follow a simple recipe. Always remember your value ladder, because most people within tourism will probably want physical customers at some point, and by gradually building trust, a customer will potentially buy other products from you as well.
5 How to get started with virtual experiences step by step
There is no definitive answer on how to get started and offer good virtual experiences for tourists, but there are some good ways to create and market them.
STEP 1 IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS.
What is your purpose with creating virtual experiences? What do you want to achieve? Is it just for marketing? Do you want to sell this as a unique experience? Do you want to get more people on your mailing list? Do you want to earn money online? Think about this carefully, but remember that the road will be created as you walk.
STEP 2 SPECIFY YOUR TARGET GROUP
Who is the target audience? Do you want to reach customers that will likely visit you later? Is this an experience that will have its own customers, or new markets? Create customer personas or use the ones you have. PS: see how here
STEP 3 PLAN THE CONTENT
Do you want to make a 360º video or photo? Maybe you want to combine several types of media? What do you want to convey? Is it a trip? Is it what your hotel looks like? Do you have a plan for the story? How are you going to build the story? (Here are 3 steps to a simple marketing story)
STEP 4 PRODUCE THE CONTENT
This is probably the most difficult to do yourself, but far from impossible. I do not want to go into the technical side of it, because it depends on the equipment and the needs, and there is also a lot of new stuff happening in this area. But I will say that if you want to make 360º video, you’re gonna need the right camera equipment and you’re gonna need software to edit afterwards. You will also need to shoot from multiple angles. If you’re not experienced doing stuff like this, I can put you in touch with the right people. The result will be much better by using professionals. But it’s also fun to experiment yourself. It might not end up perfect, but it doesn’t need to end up looking amateurish either. A good start is to play around with Google Street view.
Other things to think about are dramaturgy, what and how to convey the message, and of course how to build an experience. I am not your mother, and would rather not ask you to clean. But if you are going to film rooms and interiors, think about what it looks like and remove what is disturbing and getting in the way. The tripod should also have fixed heights so it stays the same from room to room. You can also use drones as long as you use the wise and try to avoid the clichés. It will give the customer a different perspective.
Our talented partner and photographer Morten has recently become a skilled FPV drone pilot. This field is exciting. With FPV you take the best of the racing drone industry, where you have 100% control over maneuvering, while at the same time adding the characteristics of a slightly slower cinematic drone that focuses on content creation. For example, you can showcase hotels and landscapes in a whole new way. An interesting variation is to follow a person who enters the hotel before flying out and showing the surroundings. Here is an example:
STEP 5 MARKET / SELL THE EXPERIENCE
Virtual experiences won’t market themself. What channels do you want to use? Is it natural to spread it in social media, through destination companies and marketplaces? Where are your physical trips? How is your website? Have you organized well in order to get the trips out? Do you want to use a custom platform for these trips? There are many good solutions for this. How do you tell the story through marketing? Here are some basic tips. The purpose of virtual experiences will for many be just marketing, but you have to work hard to promote the marketing.
STEP 6 ANALYZE AND IMPROVE
No one product is perfect, and all products can be better. Be sure to get feedback and adjust periodically. The visual and the virtual experience is one thing, but you also have to adapt the entire customer journey from marketing to the actual experience. If the goal is to get customers to physically visit you afterwards, you need to make up for it. Imagine the souvenir/gift shop you have to go through on your way out of the zoo. Give the customer a clear call-to-action. Customize it. Especially if you “just” want to show off how the rooms in your hotel are.
Because you want them to book, right?
IF IT’S DIFFICULT TO GET STARTED, DON’T BE AFRAID. WE CAN HELP YOU. WE ALSO HAVE THE BEST EQUIPMENT AND THE BEST PEOPLE WITH US SO YOU CAN MAKE A BREATHTAKING VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE. WE CAN FIX EVERYTHING FROM PRODUCTION OF MEDIA, TO WEBSITE AND MARKETING.
6 good examples of virtual experiences.
Below we have gathered several actors who are good at virtual tourism so you can get inspired and see how it can be done.
Here’s the list
1 Dive on Great Barrier Reef. Google made it possible. Press this link >>
2 Climb Mount Everest. Press this link >>
3 Visit a Hawaiian Volcano. Press this link >>
4 Go to Luther space with NASAs Trappist travel bureau. Press this link >>
5 Safari in Africa. Press this link >>
6 Rainforest. Press this link >>
7 Fly a balloon. Press this link >>
8 Yosemite National Park. Press this link >>
9 Grand Canyon. Press this link >>
10 Feel like a backpacker with Random Street View. Press this link >>
11 Northern Lights in Abisko, Finland. Press this link >>
12 Macchu Picchu. Press this link >>
13 Parisian catacombs. Press this link >>
14 Fly over Paris Press this link >>
15 Colosseum in Rome Press this link >>
16 Statue of Liberty. Press this link >>
17 Amazing Patagonia. Press this link >>
18 The Chinese Wall. Press this link >>
19 7 wonders. Press this link >>
20 Tokyo in 3 minutes. Press this link >>
21 Giants Causeway in Ireland. Press this link >>
22 Flåmsbanen railway in Norway Press this link >>
23 The UNESCO-listed Berninabahn – St Moritz – Tirano. Press this link >>
24 5 Rollercoasters. Press this link >>
25 Street art tours. Press this link >>
26 Ibiza party Press this link >>
27 The Holy Land, Jerusalem. Press this link >>
28 The Vatican state. Press this link >>
29 Buckingham Palace. Press this link >>
30 British Museum Press this link >>
31 Louvre. Press this link >>
32 Uffizi in Florence Press this link >>
33 Van Gogh Museum Press this link >>
34 Guggenheim in New York. Press this link >>
35 J. Paul Getty Museum in LA. Press this link >>
36 Anne Franks house in Amsterdam. Press this link >>
37 Tulips in Netherlands, Keukenhof Gardens. Press this link >>
38 Virtual visiting winter experiences Press this link >> Please help me with virtual experiences→
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How can we as tourism actors calculate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, technology and tourism – how can we preserve the human aspect in a fast changing world, tra-vel-op-ment / traˈveləpmənt :noun.
– a transformation of a destination, person or business generating economical, social and environmental improvement
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