Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Thu May 05 2016

Tech of the Week: YouVisit Establishes Game-Changing Virtual Reality

Travel Technology | Gabe Zaldivar | May 05, 2016

Tech of the Week: YouVisit Establishes Game-Changing Virtual Reality

Photo  via Twitter

Virtual Reality isn’t just the future, it's the presdent. As evidence, we present a new solution for travel brands eager to embrace a tool that captivates, mesmerizes and, above all, entices potential travelers.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Abi Mandelbaum, CEO and co-founder of YouVisit, which is a virtual reality company that has already established itself as a go-to immersive video solution for travel agencies, hotels and destinations.

What we learned furthered our belief that the next logical step for the travel industry rests in those funny-looking headsets that act as a real-world transporter to whisk the curious to far-off locales.

The value to the industry is obvious and extensive. For travel brands, this is as close as you will ever get to plunking a potential traveler in the very city where they hope to visit. Don’t just tell them how great Croatia, Alaska or any other global destination might be; show them.

For consumers, it’s time to celebrate.

We are in the initial days of a bright future. Consider your current mode of holiday spelunking. You thumb through one page after another on various OTAs or travel websites. Well, actually diving into these places from home will become far more prevalent.

Or, as Mandelbaum puts it, “VR takes discovery to a whole new level.”

Here is a link to YouVisit’s Alaska experience.

Whether you want a 360-degree or immersive virtual reality experience, YouVisit is there to be your digital tour guide. And for travel brands considering how they might pivot to pique millennial interest, there is a reason to consider VR.

Mandelbaum states: “Millennials today, a big part of planning their vacation, going on vacation, is sort of sharing that excitement with their friends. That has become as important sometimes than the vacation itself. And the interesting thing we are seeing with 360 content is that it’s the kind of content that millennials are sharing even before they go on the vacations.”

Consider YouVisit’s Croatia experience. It’s a highly shareable video that a younger generation is more than willing to tweet or share across various channels.

Instead of waiting to go on a trip, VR becomes that rare asset that can entice a group into taking that next big trip.

Here is a link to YouVisit’s Croatia experience.

The astounding aspect to all this is how willing travelers are to embrace the technology. Spending more than a few minutes on any one website means the content has to be downright enthralling.

For brands, keeping consumers interested is a daily grind. But there is an innovation available now that will grab and keep that wandering attention. 

Mandelbaum states: “The average time people end up spending in the virtual experience is over ten minutes. As you know online, that’s an eternity. That’s the level of engagement that VR allows you to get nowadays.”

Mandelbaum continued, “Generally speaking, the first thing people say when they take off the VR headset is ‘I want to go there.’”

And that’s the promise of VR.

Currently, travel agents or consumers go through pictures and the usual brand of videos for inspiration. The CEO offers that this kind of scenario is limited, “But there is only so much you can get out of pictures.”

He continues: “And pictures make it possible to stage it, manicure it. With Virtual Reality, you are capturing the entire environment. It feels much more real and that’s important to the traveler.”

Mandelbaum explains how things typically play out from the brand side of things: “The way we work with a travel destination, hotel, cruise line is that company hires us to create a virtual experience that can then be delivered across any VR headset, desktop or mobile.”

As for agents: “The way we work with travel agencies is very similar with one minor difference. The travel agencies typically have a close relationship in serving destinations or serving hotels at those destinations.” And it’s that connection that’s key as Mandelbaum would later offer.

Now the CEO is quick to point out that the best way to engage is through interactive experiences over 360-degree video.

However, any amount of VR is helpful. As Mandelbaum points out, we are much more willing to take a trip and part with money if we trust the brand.

He raises the example of trusted websites like TripAdvisor offering some confidence with its reviews.

But what if there were another way to gain that confidence?

Mandelbaum states: “When (travel agencies) have customers come into their offices, they are just completely amazed. Number one, no other travel agency that the customers have worked with have ever done or offered them the ability to step into the destination they are going to go to before booking. And two, it just creates a tighter bond with the agency, because every customer thinks wow these guys are the most cutting edge when it comes to technology. They must be one of the best travel agencies. I’ll continue working with them.

As for the hungry brands hoping to lure travelers, the tech is just as valuable: “And for the hotels it’s great, because it offers them an opportunity to differentiate themselves. While before, the travel agent would sit down and maybe show them pictures of ten different hotels on an iPad. Well, now they are showing them eight different hotels in an iPad, but for two of the hotels that do have VR it’s, ‘Put on this headset and let us take you there’”

And that’s the magic moment: “And guess which hotel they end up booking? The ones where they have a higher trust level. They step inside. They have a much better feel for what it’s like.”

Now YouVisit remains one of the few entities that allow VR through all manner of headsets as well as through mobile and desktop.

We would often wish for the days when we could simply taste test a vacation before actually taking the leap in booking the holiday.

Those days are here now.


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