Try it Before You Book it: Virtual Reality for Travel Agencies

EHL Editorial Team | 20 Oct, 2016

When a potential traveler wants to book a trip, what is the best way to proceed? While it is possible to reserve a room or an airplane ticket online, there is nothing that beats personal attention. That is where a travel agent comes into play. A talented travel agent knows how to find great deals, create enjoyable itineraries and build excitement for the trip ahead. Today’s travel agents have many useful tools at their disposal. Technology is expanding the number of available tools. In fact, today’s agents and travelers can work together to create better trips than ever before, using one huge piece of technology: virtual reality.

Google Earth is one example of Virtual Reality at work in the travel industry. An agent can quickly show customers where their hotel would be located, how close it would be to top destinations and even how pleasant the walk or drive would be. While you can tell a bit by looking at a map, you learn much more by looking at a real-life three-dimensional rendering of the city or neighborhood itself. On a smaller scale, companies like YouVisit are producing 3D renderings of hotels, cruise ships, and communities to give potential visitors an up-close look at the destination. “We’re changing the way travel suppliers and agents use virtual reality,” stated CEO of YouVisit Abi Mandelbaum. This technology gives the potential traveler even more information, and it builds excitement.

While the products today are doing incredible things, there is excitement about what tomorrow may bring. There may be more than just viewing screens. With products like 3D printers becoming more affordable and the 4D technology found in high-end theaters becoming more portable, it could be that a potential traveler can see, smell, hear and feel what a trip to a certain destination may be like. What could be better at boosting a travel agent’s success rate?

The biggest challenge of implementing virtual reality into the hospitality industry in general and travel agencies in particular, is getting everyone on board with understanding the technology. Your average traveler may not understand all of the benefits and they certainly don’t know how to utilize all of the features alone. An agent must have a strong education in how to use all products. A good travel agent will want to keep learning more so that he or she can bring the best and most sophisticated travel planning experience to every customer.

Travel agents will benefit from virtual reality because it offers a new way to connect with customers. Agents using virtual reality will help travelers envision the trip before he or she sits down and starts planning. Having more tools to make the link between the destination and the travelers will help travel agents get a bigger revenue share. Travel being a huge industry - globally amounting to over 7 trillion dollars in 2015, the stakes are certainly huge, 

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