The forum at the Travel Technology Show at London Olympia this week included some fascinating insights into the future of travel.

Virtual Reality is here

While the chat about drones and big data were interesting, Anthony Ganjou’s presentation on Virtual Reality was mind-blowing – as was his demonstration of the Samsung Gear VR device.

Ganjou – co-founder of specialist VR company Visualise – put his gadget into context by making it clear that the current hardware is the equivalent to the classic ‘brick’ mobile phone.

He predicts that within 3-6 years we will be experiencing VR on contact lenses and glasses.

samsung gear VR

 

Oculus Rift acquired by Facebook

If this sounds like a sci-fi film, then consider that VR is still very much in its infancy, having only started in earnest in 2012.

It was then that the guys behind Oculus Rift raised $2.5 million in just a fortnight on Kickstarter. In 2014 the company was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion.

Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed that there have already been 100,000 developer kit sales and anticipates 50 million to 100 million sales within the next ten years.

oculus

Virtual reality perfect match for tourism

Tourism is a perfect match for Virtual Reality, according to Ganjou. It’s sticky content and proven to sell.

Plus it’s shareable in the moment – you can share any aspect of any experience and allow friends to join you in the experience at that point (for example, while looking around Trafalgar Square).

The focus was on the added value that virtual reality can offer. For example, a headset could be used to allow customers to view different destinations in advance and choose between them.

A ski tour operator could use VR to show off a property in 3D, allowing prospective guests the chance to walk round a whole chalet, rather than try and visualise it from a floorplan. A resort could show off their key features, lift or runs.

Earlier this month, skiers hundreds of miles apart, raced each other using VR on the same Schladming slalom course, using Oculus Rift technology.

Thomas Cook are already using VR

The fact is that this is already going on – take a look at this video which shows what Visualise created for Thomas Cook.

Added value or a threat?

Of course, it doesn’t require much of a leap to see the threat that virtual reality might pose to the travel industry.

Think ‘Total Recall’ and consider whether, once technology has reached a sufficient level, going to an actual destination will be necessary at all…

total-recall

 

Bonus: Eight Other Soundbites on the Future of Travel

  1. The use of geo-location will become important in marketing – Joakim Everstin, Sabre
  2. 50% of digital marketeers are not confident about the tools they use – Vijayanta Gupta, Adobe
  3. The established industry has only just woken up to the sharing economy: Airbnb already books more beds than any other supplier – Charlotte Lamp Davies, DataArt
  4. Nobody cares about big data, people care about big impact – Michael Dell (as quoted by Vijayanta Gupta, Adobe)
  5. What drives new technology? Customer laziness! – Paul Stephen, Sagittarius Marketing
  6. Booking.com and expedia.com are so dominant that venture capitalists no longer want to invest in consumer travel – Charlie Osmond, TripTease
  7. Middle-tier hoteliers are most at risk from new technology: they are already being squeezed hard by OTAs – Charlie Osmond, Triptease
  8. The legal situation [for using drones] is complicated with different regulations in every country. In the UK you must be a minimum of 50m away from the public and only need a licence if you are charging for the service – Nic Gilbert, Aerial Empire

 

travel technology show

 

Article by Iain Martin