Okay, so you’re in lockdown. The Government has strongly recommended that you stay indoors as much as possible, all the pubs and clubs are closed, and the local Co-Op is out of pasta. It might feel like the end of the world as we know it, but we should all be around to see whatever the new one looks like on the other end.
One of the big changes we’ve seen with this pandemic is how it’s really pushed people towards living remotely. Telecommuting is on the rise, groceries are now largely ordered online and delivered, and people are keeping in touch with FaceTime, Zoom and HouseParty.
One especially interesting development is the rise of virtual hotel tours, and it’s interesting because it was already becoming a thing even before we first heard the names COVID-19 and Wuhan.
At its core, a virtual tour is a digital experience that allows users a first person view of a hotel using virtual reality or augmented reality (VR or AR respectively). Virtual reality is a technology that’s been around for several decades, with the first models appearing in the late 80s and 90s. However technological advancements since then have made VR headsets more practical and accessible, leading to a renewed surge of interest over the latter half of the New 10s.
While it was games and media companies that first seized on the potential of VR, the tourism industry has also started to see the possibilities of VR technology. Virtual hotel tours utilising VR to give potential companies the chance to have a fully immersive 3D tour of the hotels they’re interested in staying in, allowing them to properly inspect their room, the hotel grounds, and other points of interest from the comfort of their home. It’s quickly become popular across many international hotels – we’ve pulled a few of the best here, such as the Atlantic: The Palm in Dubai or the Pullman Brisbane King George Square Hotel in Queensland.
One of the major problems that come with advertising hotels is the limitations of the media they can present themselves in. Written descriptions and 2D images to showcase rooms, facilities and amenities often they fall short. However professional and tasteful the snapshots are, they never quite deliver the full experience of the hotel room. Have you ever been somewhere, seen a truly breathtaking sight on the horizon, rush to take a snapshot, only to find that the picture never looks quite as pretty when you post it online? Well, hotel companies feel your pain. Great hotels underwhelm with weak photography or guests are severely disappointed when they finally check in and realise that the brochure doesn’t match up with reality(!).
So, rather than resorting to a restrictive two-dimensional image, a VR tour gives prospective guests a chance to walk around a digital copy of the hotel. This gives travellers a lot more control over what to see and investigate, whether it’s gauging the amount of floor space in their bedroom, the facilities in the bathroom, or the potential view from their balcony. Not only does this showcase the hotel, but visitors can also use this to get a more trustworthy idea of what their hotel is going to be like. There’s no smoke and mirrors or use of clever angles and lighting to make the room look bigger than it really is!
In order to make their hotels look modern and ahead of the curve, many companies will also use VR hotel tours to appeal to tech-minded audiences. It’s getting to the point now where one study suggested that 92% of prospective hotel guests insist on at least a 360° panorama shot before considering a venue. VR is an exciting addition to the marketing of hotels that’s continually improving and still generating a lot of buzz.
Hotels around the world are seizing the opportunities offered by virtual reality tours. To showcase how effective they are, here are some of the best virtual hotel tours currently going…
Built on an artificial island off the coast from the main city in Dubai, the Atlantis Palm Hotel is an isolated luxury resort with palatial grandeur and a loving attention to detail. It’s 360° VR tour is perfect for showing off just how much effort has gone into the hotel’s design, and truly gives off the sense of scale and opulence.
This one is a contemporary Australian hotel that prides itself on a comfortable and trendy setting. Catering towards high-end visitors and travelling businessmen, its virtual tours have a more Google Maps street-view demonstration of its facilities. The tour allows visitors to “walk” around its lobbies, lounges and rooms, helping guests to get a sense of size and dimension. While it is browser-based and doesn’t quite give the same immersive experience as a VR tour, it still very much does the trick.
As expected, the main focus in Bora Bora is the natural beauty offered by this luxury Polynesian resort, with the VR tours offering breathtaking views of steamy green islands, white sand beaches, and endless blue oceans. Walking along wooden walkways above the lagoons and exploring the rustic cabins guests stay in, it truly gives a sense of perspective for guests contemplating their stay at the resort.
At the time of writing, international travel is probably not immediately possible. However that does not mean people can’t get ahead and start planning their next vacations once normality has resumed. It’s almost as good as already being there!