We are always looking to ‘stand out’ as a destination and specifically when we are at trade shows with key international buyers. We’re very lucky we’re on everyone’s bucket list as a destination, people assume they’ll have a great time when they get here, that the people will have a great ‘craic’, the scenery will be beautiful but they struggle with understanding what they’ll actually do when they get here. We’ve created a number of core tourism brands here in Ireland (The Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East and Dublin, a breadth of fresh air) to allow us to address this issue. Now VR gives us the opportunity to virtually show people some of the amazing experiences they can have versus just telling them about them. We used The Wild Atlantic Way, Europe’s longest coastal driving route at 2,500km to pilot our first trial of VR at ITB Berlin, Europe’s largest travel and adventure trade show. Fáilte Ireland harnessed Virtual Reality to enable buyers to experience, specific activities, that will inspire and get them to sell Ireland
No one is looking for just a holiday anymore, we know that people are looking for experiences. VR give us the opportunity to showcase what a destination has to offer and pre sell people the experiences and activities they can do when they get here. What VR also allows destinations to do is help people discover and explore the destination when they are on holiday. We can use VR to cross sell experiences in difference parts of the destination, increasing peoples dwell time, driving incremental sales of experiences and helping to spread tourism revenue from traditional honey pots to areas with developing and new tourism products.
Definitely, VR will help inspire people to explore new destinations, it will help them plan what they’ll do before they even leave home. We can use VR to drive instant bookings and reservations pre and in holiday; it will help people plan their in holiday experiences and the locations they will visit; and ultimately they will share these experiences to feed into their friends, family and networks holiday inspiration. VR videos will become so prolific in travel over time we’ll wonder how people planned holidays without them.
That’s a great question and one we’re still exploring. In our first trial of VR at trade shows we are seeing an instant reaction from the trade buyers and people who programme Ireland. We see how effective it is a sales tool and how it immediately makes Ireland somewhere they are anxious to sell to their client and customers, but we are pretty sure it’s not the only factor in their choice. So revenue from trade buyers who’ve experienced VR at one of the trade shows is something we will track. We traditionally use engagements as a metric for success in digital content, so initially we’re using that to track views and shares of our VR videos. We plan to start to feature VR in our Tourist Information Offices so we’ll be able to start tracking bookings for specific experiences. Ultimately I think we’ll look to see how we integrate VR into our overall marketing mix and view it as another tool for getting our message across. I see it as the natural next stage of our insatiable appetite for content. Ultimately we’ll set ROI metrics against our marketing investment versus VR in isolation.
1)That the hardware is expensive,
2) That the experience won’t live up to the hype and
3) That it’s a fad.
I think the phone companies and Facebook will quickly remove the first misconception over time. I think the experience piece will take a bit longer and the truth is some people will be disappointed for various reasons; hardware, video quality including individual experiences of 3D and just people’s expectations of any new technology. We’ll address that over time and as the hardware become better and cheaper and the video quality increases that’ll gradually fix itself. The third one I don’t know maybe it is a fad and we’ll look back on this time as one of those technology red herrings. Who knows but it’s fun to do now.
I’m excited to hear from other leading brands in other industries about their experiences with VR and how they plan to incorporate it into their strategies over the next few years and I’m looking forward to telling people about our VR journey.