PHOTO: Virtual Reality is ready for the spotlight. (photo via Flickr/Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas)
Booking a room means scouring the Internet for the best prices, looking at images of rooms and (soon) strapping on a virtual reality headset.
Mashable reports Expedia is toying with technology that will have potential travelers actually try their hotel room on for size well before they even open the door. The publication points to promising innovations showed via demo and thoughts from Arthur Chapin, Expedia's Senior Vice President, Product and Design, at the company’s Singapore office.
Chapin asks Mashable: “If you're going to make the decision of [booking] a cruise, wouldn't it be cool if you could check out the ship [virtually] before you spend that much money?”
Apps and OTAs have made searching for inexpensive tickets and rooms a far more efficient enterprise. Still, we end up on the Internet or phone for hours, even looking through social media for images and videos of the hotel and surrounding area.
Thus, it’s not all that much of a leap to expect travelers take their virtual reality set and soar off to their hotel to see if it will suit their needs.
The demo came at the company’s innovation lab, though no release date was announced.
While it seems as if this is in the initial stages of development, the technology looks promising. As Mashable states, you can slide doors and open balconies. So imagine stepping out onto the main selling point of your room, snapping off the headset and immediately looking for your credit card to book.
That’s what some outlets are hoping takes place as VR headsets come down in price and become a more ubiquitous gadget in the industry.
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Visit Houston has embraced the technology in the same way, last year announcing its plans to show off its wonderful confines via these newfangled headsets. Club Med and Best Western Hotels also decided to show off their respective goods through virtual reality.
It seems Expedia is making good on a study it conducted last year, one profiled by TravelPulse’s Patrick Clarke at the time. Essentially, it found that the millennial generation wanted authentic experiences but didn’t enjoy any surprises once they got to their destination.
Or, as Expedia's senior vice president and head of retail Gary Morrison stated last April: "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 is investing in a generation that will certainly take the virtual reality step if it means assuring a certain experience when they get there.
Mashable also reports Expedia is looking at technologies such as those present with Amazon’s Echo and electromyography (EMG)—or the ability to track emotion.
READ MORE: Voice-Controlled Devices Battle for Hotel Supremacy
Chapin continues: “We are always investing in research and various different pieces of technology and why we do that is...when you look at disruptive products, they tend to start slow then all of a sudden disruption hits. If you're not already thinking about it, it can be very hard to keep up.”
And this is why we have slowly seen VR apps spring up. Brands are simply optimistic as to where things are headed. Sygic, Dubai’s Atlantis, and even Seattle’s Space Needle highlight the next great thing in the travel world.
Virtual Reality will soon be an industry standard as folks at home and those at the travel agent’s office can throw on a set and really decide if that next trip is right for them.