In the wake of the pandemic, all the industries globally are experiencing a shift towards a virtual operational framework. The travel industry is no exception and is constantly evolving through innovations in various domains. During this time, VResorts, a VR commerce and VR content innovator, introduced its Virtual Reality Booking Platform that will allow you to book a vacation for yourself in a virtual reality environment.
Talking about the new platform, VResorts CEO, Vladimir Varnavskii said,
“We have designed our booking engine to be quite similar to regular online booking platforms in terms of the steps, but at the same time it is very different in terms of experience.”
“We really wanted to immerse guests into our interface, allowing them to browse hotels with a relevant immersive background of the location they are searching. We allow the customer to explore the hotel almost as if a hotel manager is walking with you, giving you a tour and telling you a story. That is an important part here; storytelling in VR is the key to creating these immersive experiences that people are looking for and enjoying the most,” he added.
The platform is extremely user-friendly. You need to download the app on your VR device and just start browsing experiences at destinations and hotels to your liking.
He further explains, “These deals and prices are exactly the same as you would find on online travel agencies such as Booking.com or Expedia.com. The hotels that have VR content are featured and curated for the guests to browse and experience VR videos and 360-degree shots of the hotel, which are very impressive when displayed through the VR headset. If the hotel does not have such VR content, people can scroll through static pictures of the property the same way as you would on a regular online browser.”
A payment page is linked to the VR headset browser in case the user wants to book the experience right there. Alternatively, a booking link can also be sent over an email.
Varnavskii believes that after the popularity and rapid adoption of VR due to the gaming industry, the next big opportunity lies in the hands of e-commerce and retail.
Recalling his past experiences, he said,
“I have worked with one of the biggest hospitality startups as a managing director and during this time I was really able to understand the needs and wants of the hotel industry by connecting closely with the management of a huge variety of different hotels globally. On the other hand, I experienced VR for the first time being shown natural parks and nature reserves in VR, and this really triggered a recognition that there is a huge potential in VR.”
VR has emerged as a popular alternative to the pleasure of traveling and vacationing at a resort. With people forced to avoid these pleasures due to the current scenario, the travel industry foresees a need to pivot towards the virtual environment.
“In terms of satisfaction for customers, there just is no other way you can explore and experience hotels other than in VR, without actually having to be there in person,” Varnavskii said, comparing the two kinds of experiences. “This technology allows for guests to be teleported to the hotel to check out everything they want to know and give them the confidence to book right away.”
The CEO also shed some light on the disadvantages of booking these experiences the usual way online due to misleading pictures, incorrect information, and so on.
Discussing the sales domain, he states, “From a hotel perspective, it’s a completely new sales channel, which in itself is unique in this day and age.”
“Not only that, it is also a very good chance to convey to customers what you have invested in to better their overall booking experience and start to give them a taste of how much the hotel has to offer and what kind of special services they may have available for their guests. Connecting with your guests even before they arrive is a very important way to stay ahead of the competition these days,” he added.
The customers have been even more cautious post the pandemic and pay attention to a lot of detail while picking a hotel. Being able to experience that in a virtual environment before making a decision would be a huge bonus for them.
Talking about the usefulness of the platform, he said,
“We actually did a research project where we found that around 50% of guests who are looking for $500+ a night hotels are eager and willing to invest $300-400 to buy a VR device just to make sure that they make the right hotel choice using our technology and content.”
The VR industry is on a definite path towards exponential growth but finding ways for establishing trust between businesses and their customers without the human touch is a requisite for it to foray into commerce.
“Creating selling experiences such as our hotel booking engine is a fantastic use case because the value-added compared to using smartphone apps or your laptop is significant; you are essentially traveling to the place in VR before purchasing the real-life experience,” Varnavskii remarked.
Mentioning their contribution towards the evolution of the industry, he added,
“We believe that by releasing VResorts booking platform we are giving a push for global e-commerce to try and take its first steps into the VR-commerce world.”
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