Innovations In Travel and Tourism: Augmented and virtual reality

by Itika Singhal

Applications of augmented and virtual reality in the travel industry are changing with AR VR tourism apps, innovations in marketing and sales activities, immersive tourist experience, AR VR based travel agencies and more.

Augmented and virtual reality technologies are the talk of the town these days. Applications of both these technologies have immense potential to change the travel and tourism industry. Gone are the days when people used to make travel bucket lists with elan as most of the world is shut indoors due to the ongoing pandemic. Businesses are affected in an unprecedented way. Travel companies are turning to digital transformational solutions like augmented and virtual reality to drive marketing and sales as well as enhance the tourist experience. The innovations made using these technologies will go well beyond the pandemic and change the future of travel industry forever.

Innovation in tourism: The new kind of sight for your sore eyes

Augmented reality or AR, is the real-time superimposition of meta-information about or in your actual reality. This superimposed or augmented information can be text, images or video. AR also facilitates object recognition allowing you to get information about just anything in your surroundings. Virtual reality, on the other hand, is an entirely different technology which allows you to enter a different world with the help of a VR headset or HMDs. Though the person experiencing VR is in the comfort of his/her home physically, he or she may be battling out gladiators in Rome or screaming their heart out from the top of the Eiffel Tower in France. In a nutshell, augmented reality adds something to your surroundings whereas virtual reality takes you into a different place altogether. 

Applications of augmented and virtual reality in travel and tourism

Marketing in travel and tourism industry using AR and VR: 

Virtual reality travel agencies will soon become a thing. The basics of the travel and tourism industry lie in how effectively a travel company sell a destination or an experience. Augmented and virtual reality comes to the aid of travel companies and travel planners to provide customers with a visually immersive experience before booking a hotel or a travel destination. With AR you would be able to bring the famous Mona Lisa painting to your reality and make up your mind if you wish to hit the museum. Well, virtual reality in this scenario is more effective than augmented reality when it comes to planning a holiday. Virtual reality tourism marketing will surely translate into sales and online bookings for travel companies. With AR and VR, there is no longer the need to invest in printed travel broachers and leaflets. Imagine how convenient it would be to get a sneak peek into your dream destination before spending money on it. It will also minimise any scope of last-minute unwanted surprises making your holiday smooth and enjoyable.

Augmented reality based navigation apps: 

For travellers who like to explore the history and culture of a place, like to rent a bike and travel around on their own, visit famous hotspots, augmented reality navigation system will be the best guide. Integrating augmented reality to GPS enabled navigation app will transform how people move around a city. All you one has to do is to take their augmented reality enabled mobile devices or AR glasses, feed in a destination and get real-time directions in your field of vision. While you’re at it, place markers will tell you what famous spot is coming so you can know what’s around you. You will also be able to point to a place and object and have all the information, historical and fun facts. This marker-based information technology will greatly enhance the travel experience and make it more immersive in the time to come.

Innovative augmented reality guided or walking tours: 

How many times have you bought a guided tour to a city or around an ancient palace? We are sure most of you have. There is o better place to know a city than having an informed local tour guide. The only drawback is that you move at the pace of the tour guide and not as per your wish. What if augmented reality walking guide app-enabled you to do so? The AR tourism apps can be pre-programmed with guide content and one can enjoy at their own pace in a much more informative and immersive experience. Integrate artificial intelligence to it and the application has the potential to become interactive. Ask your questions away! Locations, hotspots, descriptions, opening and closing time, admission fees, weather information, weather predictions, reviews & feedbacks all in your field of vision with augmented reality.

Virtual reality tourism and social VR: 

How often do travel plans get cancelled because your boss did not approve the leave, you did not get permission from your folks for a road trip with your friends or a trip may simply skew your savings? Virtual reality tourism using a VR headset or head-mounted display comes to your rescue. You can visit any travel destination that you like from the comfort of your home. With Social VR, you will be able to fulfil all the travel plans made with friends. No more last minute excuses and ditching. Scared of heights? Well, now you can visit the top of Burj Khalifa or do a bungee jump even if you are scared of heights because in reality you will not be jumping but do get the same adrenaline rush.

Historical reconstruction and travel to the past with virtual reality: 

How many of you are often mesmerised by history, ancient art and artefacts? Virtual reality can transport you to 2500 BC when in Egypt when pyramids of Giza were built or to when the famous incident of David and Goliath happened in the 11th Century. Wouldn’t it be amazing to witness these events as they happened? Reading about it is one thing, being in that exact set up is an entirely different thing. virtual reality apps with soon becoming affordable head-mounted displays, it can soon become a reality.

Augmented reality based real time language translation: 

When travelling to a foreign country, more than often language becomes a barrier. Augmented reality language translation apps can translate foreign language to your native language giving you smooth headache-free travel experience. One of the examples is google translate, all you have to do is scan the language to be translated with your mobile phone and you will see your intended language superimposed over it.

Innovative and interactive destination and hotels: 

Augmented reality holds the power to make travel destinations and hotels interactive with place markers, weather information, navigation routes, famous attractions etc.. Which way is the swimming pool, what is the chef special in the buffet, visual menu in restaurants which can show how the dish will look once made?

Introduce gamification to rewards system: 

Credit card companies thrive on reward systems. Augmented reality can introduce gamification to the travel and tourism industry which makes your holiday even more fun. Imagine a game on the lines of Pokemon Go, finding somethings in the lanes of Amsterdam to earn cool reward points which will get you a free spa day! 

In-flight entertainment systems: 

Imagine having virtual reality headsets for inflight entertainment systems. Movies, games, connect with your friends and family in virtual reality even while you are physically travelling elsewhere. 

Augmented and virtual reality in the travel and tourism industry works around the five core pillars – destination, accommodation, transportation, food and beverage and convenience. It is a quite common saying that technology has brought the world together and made it smaller. Augmented and virtual reality will take it further and mitigate the concept of physical distance over many miles. Imagine those science fiction movies where one could teleport from one place to another, well, this is the beginning but we are certainly moving in that direction.