Follow trends and developments in tourism and leisure
Line of Research of ETFI Researcher Jörg Wenzel

As stated in our recent blog the research group Scenario Planning present their topic in future studies in this blog. This week Jörg Wenzel introduces his line of research: 'Communicating the beauty of places' focusing on research measuring the effectiveness of immersive virtual reality applications as marketing & sales tool within the tourism industry.

Virtual Reality and Tourism
Academic publications have already stressed the potential of virtual reality technology applied in certain facets of tourism like marketing, resource preservation and education. With the increased availability of virtual reality devices, the application of this technology starts to appear in the tourism industry on maybe unexpected places:

  • In China, tourism students are trained for tourist guiding using projection of destinations.
  • A major hotel brand applies head mounted display technology for catchy media campaigns promoting their honeymoon destinations.
  • A Dutch tour operator hires a flight simulator to invite customers on a virtual trip along the destinations they offer.

These three examples  indicate that the application of virtual reality technology in the tourism industry creates all kind of current and future business opportunities. Early adopters use the media hype surrounding virtual reality to generate media attention and promote their brand and products.  

But what happens after the hype?
Virtual reality enabling technologies are rapidly increasing in quality due to massive competition in the gaming and social media industry. The question is not if virtual reality technology will be become available to mass markets, but when it will be available. Once the technology is available, the role of 360 degree video becomes more relevant as the only way to proper access this form of content is virtual reality projection in whatever way

Since many tourists currently prepare their travelling by accessing streetview content, online maps, peer reviews of places on social media, user generated videos of destinations, hotels and boulevards the image formation before a visit is obviously impacted. Compared to computer screen bound information available on the internet, the application of immersive virtual reality technology can create an extra feeling of ‘being there’.

Impact of of travel behaviour
If a person can ‘be’ at a destination and can get a ‘realistic’ visual image, it is relevant to identify how this ‘realistic’ impression impact the a travel decision making process. Once this is identified, the results can help to efficiently implement VR technology in the marketing process on the one hand. On the other hand, the results can be used to further research the impact of virtual reality application on spatial movement. The ultimate goal of the research line is to identify whether the possibility to have a destination experience before an actual visit does actually impact the travel behaviour of tourists. On the long-term the increased potential application of virtual reality technology in the tourism industry and it’s increased quality might lead to scenarios in which future ‘tourists’ prefer virtual tourism experience above a ‘real’ tourism experience.

For questions about the research line contact or feel free to leave a comment. 

Read about the other Research Proposals
Peter Singleton: 'Geopolitical Threats and Oppertunities for EU Tourism'. 
Victoria Naisola de Ruiter: 'Hospitality and Hospitableness: Future Implications for commercial operators'. 
Wyb de Boer: 'Designing LWD2018 Tourism Futures'. 
Stefan Hartman: 'Understanding the emergence of governance arrangements'. 


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