Over the past couple of years, extended reality has become an increasingly common part of our world. We use virtual reality to improve collaboration and augmented reality to communicate with customers. Mixed reality solutions are even paving the way for the promise of teleportation.
When the pandemic changed the way countless businesses operate, XR even emerged as a solution to transform the way we travel. For travel agencies, XR promises an opportunity to reconnect with customers, help them make better buying decisions, and deliver better overall experiences.
The question is, how do you build a business case for XR in travel that wins support and buy-in from all your stakeholders and leadership? The following steps might help you.
Step 1: Consider customer needs
One of the easiest ways to build a lasting business case for new technology in today’s customer experience-driven landscape is to highlight how the right innovation can help you better serve your customers. Trust in travel agencies is lower than ever since the pandemic, and customer relationships have weakened due to limited options for shipments.
With XR, travel agencies can overcome some of the hurdles that cause customer experience issues. For instance, AR apps can help your customers book, prepare and travel more efficiently. KLM’s AR app helps customers check that their bags will fit in their aircraft’s overhead bins before they start traveling to the airport.
VR and MR apps can give customers an idea of what a travel experience might be like, giving them the option to explore on a plane or boat. The right solutions can even be implemented as in-flight entertainment, as a way to reduce anxiety and nerves before a flight.
When exploring new destinations, XR solutions can also help travel agencies deliver a more consistent level of service. AR apps can help customers find their way to locations and get instant translations for street signs. Beacon technology can provide users with access to unique information and guidance when visiting a specific attraction. The options are endless.
Step 2: Look for ways to support sales and marketing
When developing a business case for a new technology like XR in travel, it is important to be able to convey a potential “ROI” (return on investment). One of the main ways XR solutions can improve returns is by increasing the number of potential customers you can convert.
Consumers today are understandably concerned about spending their hard-earned money on travel opportunities in an uncertain environment. One way to get them more excited about a potential experience is to allow them to get a taste of the destination or tour before visiting the venue. Virtual reality is a fantastic tool for this purpose. This can help travel agencies help customers choose the right destinations or plan their itinerary for a trip.
The same tools can offer hotel tours and give users an idea of what to expect if they sign up for certain events, like helicopter rides. With additional tools like haptic feedback, temperature control, and spatial sound, it’s possible to make people feel like they’re really in another part of the world.
Don’t forget, customers may be up to 130% more likely to book a hotel room after taking a virtual tour of the premises.
Step 3: Explore new avenues of travel
With fewer people booking big vacations and big trips, partly out of anxiety and partly because of constrained budgets, travel companies need to find more experiences to sell. In 2020, an interesting option emerged in the form of “virtual travel” – a virtual reality-based solution giving people the ability to temporarily visit destinations.
While virtual tourism, or “armchair travel,” doesn’t entirely replace the desire to visit new places in person, it could provide a unique option for travel agencies to expand their services. This is especially true at a time when overtourism and sustainability are becoming a concern.
Travel agencies could offer powerful virtual travel experiences as a kind of “day trip” to their customers, to give them more ways to explore the world. Alternatively, you can consider the option of improving average customer lifetime value, adding to real-world experiences. Beacons and 5G technology open the door to more powerful hybrid travel experiences.
The right solutions can allow customers to scan QR codes and instantly access unique AR events and games while they explore a location. These same tools could offer a more “premium” hotel or tour experience.
Step 4: Open the door to innovation
More and more, consumers are looking for companies that can offer them something new, exciting and transformative. This is especially true in the age of the metaverse, where people are increasingly interested in the connection between the real and digital worlds. With XR solutions, travel agencies could open new doors to discovery in the metaverse, with tickets to virtual events, otherworldly tours and more.
When crafting a business case for XR in travel, it’s worth thinking about what technologies you might adopt in the future, as well as today. The rise of XR tools and applications not only offers new ways to excite and delight customers, but also valuable opportunities for business productivity. The right tools can help teams work more effectively together to come up with new ideas for tours and excursions, wherever they are.
Smart tools built into XR environments can also help brands collect valuable insights into customers and what they want from their travel experiences. Everything from eye-tracking technology to AI pattern detection could pave the way for new insights into travel opportunities.