Augmented and virtual reality at the service of tourism companies

The tourism sector is in the midst of a revolution, a trend that has accelerated with the COVID health crisis. With the evolution of consumer behaviour and the restrictions imposed by the health authorities, the use of digital tools is growing significantly. Professionals have adapted their offer to maintain their activity and stay in contact with their customers on the one hand, and to stand out from their competitors and remain competitive on the other. Hoteliers, restaurateurs, tourism and leisure activities… the professions have been turned upside down by the use of new technologies in the management of their activity, customer relations and reservations, product marketing…

New technologies, previously reserved for niche uses, have been democratised and are now deployed in situ, for example with augmented reality or virtual reality experiences. These technologies improve the traveller’s experience by facilitating the organisation of the trip beforehand (help in making decisions, choosing a destination, etc.) and enhance the experience of visits, which are more fun and interactive, during the trip. These technologies thus give companies in the sector new possibilities to (re)enhance their offer by reaching out to prospects during the preparation phase of a trip.

In concrete terms, virtual reality allows the user to immerse himself in a 3D universe thanks to a helmet and often movement sensors. These allow the user to act in the environment of his virtual world experience. The headset allows the image or video to be rotated, depending on the user’s point of view. It is also possible to use a simpler system with a (recent) smartphone that fits into a plastic headset. You can thus, from your living room, fly over Béarn, discover a distant heritage site, visit a museum, discover the making of local products, etc.

Augmented reality is a technology that integrates virtual elements into reality via a medium such as a smartphone. The latter acts as a sort of filter that adds an imaginary element to what you are filming. This is the principle behind the game Pokémon Go, which was a big hit a few years ago. This technology is particularly relevant for integrating interactivity into a tour, for example, by “gamifying” the on-site experience.

What are the advantages of augmented reality for a professional?

Promoting a destination, a tourist street, a historical monument, taking a 3D tour of a hotel or a campsite… these are the many possibilities offered by virtual and/or augmented reality. The biggest museums in the world regularly use this technology for their promotional activities: the Louvre in 360°, the British Museum and its wow experience, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and its geek experience… Thanks to these technologies, there are no more borders and health restrictions, the visitor can live the experience from his smartphone, at home, and thus discover a place in an almost real way, while of course arousing the desire for a real visit this time.

What are the advantages of augmented reality for a client?

Thanks to VR / AR, the customer experience is completely rethought. These gaming technologies are becoming increasingly popular: decision support for the choice of accommodation or a tourist destination, simplification of the booking process, additional experiences offered as part of a visit (souvenir photo, additional information on a place, personalisation of the visit, etc.), reliving historical episodes that took place in the past or rediscovering moments as they were in the past in an immersive and interactive environment.

Game-based technologies offer incredible possibilities for businesses in all sectors. In addition to tourism and culture, industry is also a user of AR and VR technologies to train employees in machines or processes, to visualise installations remotely before technicians intervene, to project the creation of a building before launching its construction, etc. To maximise their potential, the use of these technologies must be integrated into a global corporate strategy with clear objectives: acquisition and conversion of prospects, customer loyalty, brand awareness, training and upgrading of employees’ skills, reporting and data management, etc.