Frequently Asked Questions About Virtual Reality—DMO Edition

Virtual reality is becoming more mainstream everyday. In order to remain competitive, DMOs are starting to ask whether they should adopt virtual reality marketing to reach more potential visitors. To help, we’ve compiled some of the most common questions DMOs have about this new technology.

How Can DMOs Use Virtual Reality, and Which Ones Are Already Using It for Marketing Purposes?

Destination British Columbia was one of the first DMOs to launch a virtual reality campaign in November 2014. Its “The Wild Within” virtual reality experience took users on an exploration of the Canadian province to the top of glaciated mountains and the inner depths of rain forests. The result: a 5 percent increase in the destination’s number of visitors and a generation of 65 million media impressions.

Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater also used the technology to set itself apart from its 15 other Visit Florida partners at the U.S. Travel Association’s 2015 International Pow Wow conference in Orlando, Fla., in June 2015. Visitors to the DMO’s trade show booth strapped on a virtual reality headset to experience two of the destination’s top activities—parasailing and paddle boarding—while other destinations where showcasing pictures of their beaches and hotels.

What Audience Does Virtual Reality Marketing Campaigns Target?

If you’re asking if virtual reality is just for gamers, the answer is no. Numbers show that virtual reality will be adopted by a large audience, including Baby Boomers—half of which who were polled expressed an interest in virtual reality, according to the Virtual Reality U.S. Consumer Report: October 2015 conducted in partnership between Greenlight VR and Touchstone Research. Younger audiences certainly expressed the most interest in virtual reality, however, with 79 percent of Generation Z consumers (0 to 19 years old) expressing excitement about the technology, compared to Millennials (73 percent), Generation X (70 percent) and Baby Boomers (64 percent).

Will Virtual Reality Replace Physical Travel?

Virtual reality is a beneficial tool to help people get to learn about a destination; however, it is still not real life. Most DMOs and travel agencies will use virtual reality to further support a customer’s decision on how to spend their money when traveling and on which destination to visit. Not many people have the finances to frequently travel abroad, so virtual reality will ensure that they’re making the right decision when booking a vacation.

What Are the Best Images and Subjects to Use for Virtual Reality?

Just like any good marketing campaign, it’s important to highlight what makes your destination stand out—for example, a breathtaking view, historic site, or thrilling activity.  A good virtual reality experience also tells a story that allows the viewer to explore your destination at their own pace. The more details available to them, the better chances they will have at getting a complete understanding of what your destination has to offer.

Is Virtual Reality Just a Fad?

Virtual reality has actually been around since the late ’80s and has been frequently used by video game companies such as Sega and Nintendo with virtual reality headsets for home consoles and in arcades. However, the technology recently became mainstream a few years ago when Oculus VR developed the Rift, which was mass released this year.

Virtual reality has become so popular that Facebook bought out Oculus for $2 billion in 2014, and other major technology companies such as Samsung, HTC, Google, and Sony are following in their wake with the launch of their own headsets. As such, headset sales are expected to increase by 500 percent in 2016 (compared to 2015), according to Consumer Technology Association research.

How Is Filming Virtual Reality Different Than Traditional Video?

Virtual reality takes a lot more time and angles to film. A videographer who captures scenes in virtual reality uses up to 14 cameras to film in full 360 degrees. Then, video editors with expertise in virtual reality piece together video from each individual camera to create the entire experience for viewers.

What Do Consumers Need to Interact with a Virtual Reality Marketing Campaign?

There are two types of virtual reality platforms—mobile VR and VR for PCs. Mobile VR is powered by a smartphone, giving it the advantage of being completely wireless, while VR for PCs requires a cord to connect the headset to its PC mothership. Between these two types, there are a wide variety of virtual reality headsets available, and not all of them are expensive. Google Cardboard, for instance, is essentially a piece of cardboard that uses a pair of plastic magnifying lenses and a standard smartphone as a screen.

Overall, Is Virtual Reality Really Worth the Investment?

Experts are predicting that 2016 will be “the year” of virtual reality and that augmented and virtual reality will be a $150 billion industry by 2020, according to Digi-Capital’s 2015 Augmented/Virtual Reality Report. That means if you want your DMO to remain competitive, virtual reality is definitely worth the investment. Not only will your destination avoid the risk of not reaching specific markets who are already virtual reality savvy, but it will also help your destination gain new audiences that you may have yet to reach.