Angela Hassassian
Angela Hassassian
Hyperactive Content Writer, Researcher, Teacher, Lifelong Student, Social Butterfly
10 min read

Changing the Future of Travel with 360° Photography and VR

We live in exciting times when technology is like a window to the world. When we were introduced to the internet, we tipped off the dominoes to an era of globalization. A world where everyone is connected and you can explore every corner of the globe from the comfort of your own home. Sure, there might have been some limitations, but now even those seem to be diminishing completely. And what’s more is we have newer technology, like VR, which is taking our exploratory experiences to the next level!

360 Technology is More Accessible

As the newest in 360 photography technology is becoming more affordable, we are beginning to see photo and video content like never before emerging from even the least expected places in the world. With 360 cameras costing less than $300 we are sure to see even more immersive footage from afar. This gives us amazing opportunities to experience the world in a totally new and engaging way. Also, it gives us a chance to share our world with others.

While the concept of “Armchair Toursim” is nothing new, it is absolutely taking on a new and possibly more literal meaning than ever before. We can experience sport events, parties, music festivals, live, in 360. We can record it, then relive that experience in a completely immersive way, using anything as simple as a cardboard or as developed as a VR headset.

We have the opportunity to watch entire travel documentary films in a 360 degree format! TV producer Daniel Chase is is currently filming an ambitious project of this kind called Chasing the World. In his documentaries you can experience a variety of scenes, ranging from temples in Nepal, hot air balloon riding in Myanmar, explorations in Machu Picchu in Peru, or a tribal ritual wedding in the Philippines.

Travel Industry Already Benefiting From Virtual Reality

While we all know that the the gaming industry has the most to gain from delving into Virtual Reality, the travel and tourism industry is hot on its heels. Hotels, airlines, and travel agencies are already experimenting with marketing strategies that capitalize on our natural curiosities. There are several VR travel apps available that show consumers what they might get out of their trip before they even book the flight.

By giving people a taste, or an opportunity to dip their toe in the water, these companies can reel in and convert potential travelers into bookings. Companies like Lufthansa, Qantas, JetBlue, British Airways, Marriott and Four Seasons, have already jumped the bandwagon. It wouldn’t be shocking to see the 360 degree format being adopted by TripAdvisor in the near future.

The proof is in the numbers, as it seems this experiment is paying off. Renowned tour operating company, Thomas Cook, worked with Visualise in order to see how VR Marketing would affect their booking. They created a VR holiday experience through their “Try Before You Fly” series and got positive results. Aside from being nominated for several innovation awards, they saw a significant change in the conversion rate for bookings made after viewing the VR content.

The final results of their study? “ In the first 3 months it generated flights and hotel bookings totaling £12k in UK and Germany and has seen a 40% return on investment. There was an 180% uplift in New York excursions revenue proving that what people do in the destination is just as important as going to the destination itself.” - Visualize

The convenience is easy to see. Using Virtual Reality you can walk through a hotel before booking it, you can plan your itinerary based on your preferences after exploring virtually, and all in an immersive way that beats the traditional options out there today.

Armchair Traveling with Virtual Reality

Marketing and advertising aspect aside, it can help fulfill travel experiences for people who wouldn’t be able to physically make a trip. Whether it’s for cost reasons or something more logistic, not everyone can pack a bag and travel to the other side of the world. That’s where VR travelling serves as a convenient getaway replacement, satiating your armchair wanderlust dreams.

We at 360Stories are trying to tap into the travel and hospitality industry with our 360 content to help people in a very similar way. Not only are you able to travel to various destinations virtually, but you can also add stories of your own experiences in different places around the world. It can range from anything between a review of a good experience, a memorable moment, or a historical event. You can then create your own customized tours and share it with friends. It’s a great way to share your stories, connect with people and get truly immersive when experiencing destinations worldwide.