As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the travel industry took a considerable hit. It could still be a while before we see travel resume to pre-pandemic levels. Even then, many people may still be deterred from venturing out of their homes. So far, COVID-19 has cost $492 billion in cumulative losses for the U.S. travel industry alone and counting. And as with many other industries, new trends are emerging from the effects of the past year; in this case, virtual travel.
To recover from recent events, the industry is shifting gears and looking for different ways to recoup revenue and keep people thinking about travel. Virtual travel could see a major uptick in the coming years.
Virtual Travel Takes Off With The Cloud
Let’s take a closer look at this opportunity, and how cloud communications providers can play an enabling role in this emerging market.
What is Virtual Travel?
Just as the name suggests, virtual travel is the combination of virtual reality and travel. The idea is to use virtual reality to provide immersive and interactive digital experiences for participants, right from their living room sofas.
Through the use of VR, customers can enter into amazing virtual worlds where they can move around, discover new areas, and experience sensations using audio and visual tools. Cloud communications tools, such as voice over IP, video meetings, messaging applications, and custom integrations to IoT devices allow virtual travellers and companies to stay in sync both during and after the experience.
How Travel Companies Can Use VR & Cloud Communications
Here are some of the exciting things that you can do with virtual travel technologies.
Host Virtual Tours
Travel companies can create digital renderings of scenic areas and historic attractions, giving attendees the ability to walk through and experience what it’s like to be on-site.
One thing to consider is that with VR, companies can bend reality. They can enable participants to travel back or forward in time, for a different way of experiencing a destination. For example, imagine visiting ancient Egypt or Greece. This is possible through the use of VR; plus, when integrated with a cloud communications platform, the VR experience benefits from cloud communications tools such as unified messaging and seamless connectivity to travel providers.
Partner With Retailers
Tourism companies can partner with local retailers for a virtual shopping experience. For example, picture visiting a digital version of a store in another country, and being able to walk around and look at digital samples of new products — and then have the opportunity to order them directly from an online store, or interact with on-site employees using video. Retailers can also track customer engagement, follow up with CRM integration workflows, and facilitate a streamlined communication channel through their cloud communications platform.
Tour Properties Virtually
Imagine being a customer and planning ahead for a trip and being able to log into a portal to take a virtual tour of a timeshare, house, or coastal property. Even before you’ve purchased tickets, you can start to imagine the experience and get excited about your plans.
As you can see, opportunities abound for virtual travel. It’s not meant to replace actual travel, but keep customers thinking about moving around and inspiring their imagination. By creating these types of immersive experiences, the travel industry can remain relevant and keep people actively interested in visiting new places — even if they can’t leave their homes just yet.
Anyone who has travelled or facilitated travel also knows how crucial communications tools are to ensuring a smooth trip. The right communications platform allows travellers to plan their experience, keep track of important travel details, and stay connected to travel coordinators at any point of their trip. Plus, travel providers can leverage their communications tools to ensure a superior customer experience at every stage of the journey.
Why Virtual Travel Needs Cloud Communications
The cloud communications industry has a central role to play in enabling next-generation virtual experiences. Simply put, virtual travel can’t work without a strong underlying communications infrastructure.
Star2Star provides a unique cloud offering that can support virtual environments, with strong built-in security, full-featured voice and mobility, seamless connectivity, and custom development and integration options. Contact the team to learn more today!