Could Millennial Travelers Lead A Virtual Travel Boom? Expedia Thinks So.
Expedia made headlines last month when it partnered with St. Jude Children's Hospital to offer child patients "Dream Adventures" without having to travel through Virtual Reality (VR). But now the popular travel service is investing in VR for a different reason.
Business Insider reported Expedia is investing in the technology in wake of a recent study that found millennial travelers are slightly less adventurous than other generations.
Through the development of VR apps, Expedia hopes to allow travelers to experience a destination before they go.
Expedia's study concluded that millennials tend to be less adventurous than older generations of travelers, with more than four in 10 (43 percent) indicating that they are "intimidated" by the idea of solo travel.
By comparison, roughly only one-third of baby boomers (32 percent) and Gen Xers (33 percent) find solo travel intimidating.
What's more, the study found that more than three-quarters of millennial travelers (77 percent) are willing to provide more personal information to an online travel agency like Expedia in exchange for more relevant travel advice, compared to just 69 percent of Gen Xers and 57 percent of baby boomers.
READ MORE: Enjoy Expedia's London Time Machine Portal
"I think it's not that we’re getting less adventurous but a sense of risk aversion is growing. The sense that 'I need to know that it's going to be authentic, I need to know that people are going to look favorably on it,'" Expedia's senior vice president and head of retail Gary Morrison told Business Insider last week.
Morrison added that while many are drawn to travel because of the potential for discovery, younger travelers are more likely to prefer that there be no surprises.
What Impact Will it Have?
While Expedia's study reveals some key trends as it pertains to younger generations of travelers, it remains to be seen whether VR will catch on.
Mobile apps are popular, but VR apps aren't on their level at this point. In addition to development, Expedia will need the millennial market to latch onto VR apps. From that point it still remains to be seen whether a VR experience would be the deciding factor for a young traveler eyeing a trip to an undiscovered destination.
Regardless of how VR development pans out, Morrison believes there's no chance it will supplant travel.
"People will always want to have the experience," he told Business Insider. "The sensation of warm sun on my flesh cannot be replicated by virtual reality."
In the meantime, VR is being implemented in other areas of the travel industry, perhaps most notably in hotel rooms. VR Bangers recently announced a partnership with headset manufacturer AuraVisor to trial VR adult entertainment inside select Las Vegas hotels.
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