Most people want to know what they’re getting before they buy. For some time, one of the most common ways for this to be possible has been through video. However, a newer way to engage potential visitors is by using virtual reality (VR). VR is quickly getting to the point where almost everyone can utilize it, and many organizations in tourism and real estate have begun using it to offer a more immersive try-before-you-buy experience.
Now you might be thinking, “Why should I spend more money on VR when I can just make a video?” To put it simply, video is expected. Virtual reality is not. With video, the creator is in charge, leaving the viewer to simply follow along with the video/speaker; with VR, the viewer chooses their own path and follows what interests them, keeping them more engaged. Giving your customers the option of a virtual reality experience that they can not only watch but interact with can help set your destination apart from competitors.
And to make the VR experience more targeted, consider offering different experiences for different audiences. A meeting planner is likely interested in local meeting places, hotels, upscale restaurants; while families might be looking for family-centered attractions, more inexpensive hotels and kid-friendly restaurants.
A good example of a destination currently using VR is the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau. Explore several of their virtual reality experiences here. And attractions such as The Met (with The Met Unframed) are using the technology to bring immersive experiences to a wider audience during a time when physical access is limited.
You can choose how complicated you want your VR experience to be, ranging from something that you can easily create yourself with nothing more than a 360 camera and some editing, or something more immersive with camera movement and opportunities for viewer interaction points along a potential visitor’s virtual “journey.”
If you are considering incorporating VR into your marketing but don’t have the expertise (or budget) for anything complicated, you can start by producing something simple internally. Where do you start? Here are some key pieces of equipment you will need:
- 360 degree camera
- Editing software
- Spatial audio recorder (if you want audio)
A Step Up
If you want to offer a more immersive experience, you have to be willing to buy more expensive equipment, know more about editing and programming, or possibly hire an outside professional.
Some of the more mid-range cameras include the GoPro Max ($399) or the Garmin VIRB 360 ($799). The Garmin VIRB 360 is one of the most premium entry-level 360 cameras because of its quality and the many features it offers.
Keep in Mind
Many cameras come as sets that offer tripods, audio capabilities and memory for storage; however, some do not. Make sure to check what equipment comes with your camera so that you know what all you are purchasing/what else you need to purchase based on the goals you are trying to achieve with your VR experience.
Virtual reality is increasing in popularity and can offer an immersive try-before-you-buy experience that has the potential to get people more engaged and interested in your destination and all that it has to offer. Whether you choose to experiment with a more simple route or work to create a unique and comprehensive experience, VR will definitely help your destination stand out.