Virtual reality tours may become the last resort for many businesses, especially hospitality and tourism, to fight against customers’ uncertainty.
With the nationwide lockdown still in force in many places, customers have stopped making plans and are cautious about going out. How do you retain them?
360 virtual reality tours did a good job before the pandemic, but now they may become the last resort for many businesses.
Which Industries Are Most Affected?
COVID-19 made some industries literally fight for survival. Every business based on serving customers in person has suffered.
Hospitality and tourism had particularly hard times. Their revenue generation completely ceased due to the lockdowns. Recently, restaurants could welcome their visitors again. But hotels are still closed in numerous states, says the interactive map launched by New York Times.
A Pursuit for Better Marketing
Even before the pandemic, these industries had to put a lot of effort into showing their customers what to expect upon arrival. Brochures, websites, video ads, advertorials, and other paid reviews worked to provide as much persuasive information as possible.
With COVID-19, the task has become more ambitious. Customers are now less willing to undertake the risk of making a reservation and then having to cancel it. This means that if you’re in these industries, you need to provide a precise understanding of what your customers’ experiences would be like, so they can be sure that it’s worth a risk.
And you need to guarantee that, in these situations of long-term revenue gaps, you use your financial resources for the right thing.
3D Virtual Reality Tours
An Underused Marketing Strategy
3D tours were not unusual for entertainment facilities that offer exclusive experiences, for instance, adventure parks and indoor climbing centers. Embedded into websites, they helped new customers get an idea of the place since no particular benchmark exists for such facilities.
In contrast, most of the traditional entertainment and hospitality locations didn’t use 3D tours at all. With the rising uncertainty among customers, hotels and restaurants might change their minds. They need to pull back their clients.
A simple 3D tour may not be enough, however, since we all have a baseline understanding of what a restaurant or hotel offers. Besides, 3D tours can’t simulate any interactions or encounters with other people inside the location.
Personalization Reaches Its Perfection
As a hospitality business, you should seriously consider 3D VR tours as an enhanced technical alternative. Customers don’t simply want to look at the place they plan to visit; they need a realistic experience of visiting it.
Let’s think about it from a different perspective. Old-school marketing materials emphasize advantages that marketers find important. For instance, a nice view from the hotel room. But a particular customer may be more interested in the room itself and how it’s equipped. A virtual reality hotel tour helps customers focus on what is actually essential for them and for their decision.
A 3D apartment tour replaces a real visit without losing on quality of the presentation. A VR restaurant tour can show your guests how the food would look on their plates. They can meet your chef in person even before they arrive!
Overcoming Your Customers’ Uncertainty
Hospitality customers are faced with two major concerns:
- Will I actually like the place?—Does it look like I imagined?
- Will I be able to go there?—Is a new lockdown still possible?
You can’t help them with the second set of questions, but you definitely can give the right answer to the first questions: Is your place actually worth visiting?
An experienced AR/VR team, such as Laminar Consulting, can build for you a virtual reality apartment or a restaurant virtual tour. Let virtual reality speak for itself.
Companies can use AR to boost their efficiency. VR prototyping, employee training, and virtual office environments become essential for future success.
Virtual reality has gradually developed an image of something similar to a nice playground. But it can be used for quite serious purposes. Companies must consider the following use cases they can benefit from.
Before you launch an expensive product, you always create a prototype that should be very close to reality. It works well with consumer products, ranging from electronics to vehicles. But what about prototyping immobile facilities, or other “heavy” and resource-consuming products? How do you know what it feels like for your customer to stay or move inside it?
3D tours used to be one of the methods for answering these questions. But they now have a solid and eventually mature rival: virtual reality prototyping. In the construction industry, AR does not only allow to virtualize the result but also the very construction process. The whole factories can be simulated to help investors in making an informed decision. And companies can acquire project financing easier.
Augmented reality prototyping enables manufacturers to save money and perform a virtual test drive before building a physical prototype. Moreover, such simulations can be used by dealers or retailers to attract customers, even during a pandemic.
Although simulated test drives have a lot in common with computer games, they are a serious instrument in raising your sales KPIs.
Virtual Reality for Training Employees
You may know that simulations are also great for training. Previously, a person would sit in front of a screen. In the best case, he or she would be provided an isolated space to avoid possible distractions. But, when you have VR goggles on, you do not even need this, since your side vision is also immersed in the training simulation. This boosts effectivity of training programs.
Moreover, VR goggles or headsets are very compact in comparison with the equipment that was used for simulation training before. You can store more of it easily in the training facility and train more employees at the same time. You can send the VR headset to someone who is working from home.
Indeed, the biggest advantage of VR employee training is its closeness to the real environment. VR can emulate difficult situations. It is actively used to train police officers and merchandisers that have their shifts during Black Friday sales.
The AR technology may be starting a new era in customer service preparing support employees to handle unusual situations.
A Virtual Reality Office
While some people may be enjoying a permanent home office mode, many teams have been suffering from the absence of shared office space. Brainstorming does not work as well online as it does offline. You cannot see the reactions of your colleagues quickly enough. Introvert persons keep silent throughout the sessions since they miss a moment to speak up.
Besides, a social component is important for team building. Video conferencing helps to concentrate on dry facts but personal communication is completely out.
Augmented office environments enable you to recreate the working atmosphere and bring the post-COVID team spirit to a new level. There are numerous applications that help to simulate a meeting in a physical meeting room. Your employees won’t be looking at a flat screen, they will be sitting in a virtual 3D room surrounded by their co-workers.
This environment won’t be looking like a cartoon copying your usual office space. It will be augmented. You can hold workshops and have name badges floating near participants. You can have your collaboration tools open and work on projects together.
Fascinated by VR?
Want to make your company an industry leader? Contact Laminar to implement your corporate VR strategy.
The future of virtual reality is tied to its ability to lessen the damaging effects of social distancing.
For years, virtual reality has not been able to build up the momentum it needs to go fully mainstream. We know it’s there, and are intrigued, yet it hasn’t fully caught on. But now, social distancing with VR presents a unique opportunity to solve a problem that we’re all dealing with in a fresh and unique way.
Social Distancing With VR
The act of self-isolation has proven to be one of the most effective ways to fight the pandemic. But we are fundamentally social creatures, and the cost to our mental health has been tremendous. Around the world, there are reports of dramatic increases in depression, loneliness, and isolation.
The future of VR rests in its ability to bring us together safely. Facebook and VR will bring us together, build community, provide crucial support, and give us a shared, protected, virtual environment that will feel immersive and fulfilling, but still keep us safe.
Facebook and VR
Facebook is the dominant player in the future of VR, and its purchase of Oculus Rift in 2014 for $2 billion was a seismic event in the VR industry. In hindsight, that merger doesn’t look as great as it did for either side. Facebook’s reputation took a hit in the years that followed, and the first-generation Oculus didn’t catch on. But CEO Mark Zuckerberg is still bullish on the technology, and he recently stated he believes that the Oculus Quest 2 will be the breakout product that justifies the price tag from all those years ago.
According to industry-leading publication RoadToVR.com, Zuckerberg was quoted as saying “many of the company’s feature priorities for future VR headsets are guided by the desire to deliver ‘social presence’—the feeling of being physically near someone even at a distance.”
What Is Social Presence?
In the digital age, social presence is defined as the feeling of community that a learner experiences in an online environment. A feeling of community is one thing the pandemic has taken from us. That feeling of immersive togetherness could be the “killer app” that drives the widespread adoption of VR headsets.
Unlike text-based communication, VR offers a diverse set of social cues through audio, visual, haptic, and—to a certain extent—olfactory information.
A Stanford University study noted that “this dimension of presence differs from telepresence, as it is not related to how vividly one experiences his or her surroundings, but rather, how connected one feels to his or her virtual body, emotions, or identity.”
What Will Next-Gen Oculus Quest Offer?
If there’s one thing that could salvage Facebook’s reputation, it would be a cure for loneliness. Could Oculus Quest 3 and 4 deliver that?
The Oculus Quest 2 is already a hit. Expectations are that Oculus Quest 3 will be available in late 2022. “You kind of need to know what your next three products are going to look like all at the same time,” said Zuckerberg. The next generation should boast better battery life, processing power, and resolution. “The Quest 3 will come equipped with a 120Hz refresh rate, although time will tell whether upcoming VR titles can take full advantage of the upgrade given that most games still don’t yet support that higher refresh rate,” predicts TechRadar.
In the foreseeable future, enforced lockdowns may be a regular part of life. That could drive demand for tech that brings people together and creates immersive communities. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the feature that finally helps virtual reality breakthrough is not a game that takes us into a fantasy world, but instead is a feature that lets us experience the kind of normality that we all took for granted for so long?
Virtual reality takes us beyond our limitations. At Laminar, we use technology to move companies past their limitations. Get in touch today and find out what we can do for your business.
You’ve heard of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), but may not be familiar with XR. Learn about XR technology and how it’s used across industries.
You’ve heard of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), but you may not be familiar with XR. Let’s start by explaining what it is and then look at use cases that are being adopted.
What Is XR?
XR stands for extended reality. It’s a catch-all phrase that includes such technologies as augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and virtual reality (VR). This tech is being infused into software that can run on devices, including cell phones and tablets. Three key areas are rapidly gaining momentum.
- Training applications
- Sales applications
- Collaboration applications
The market for XR to create immersive environments is growing quickly. It’s already a $12 billion market and expected to grow to $72 billion by 2024.
How Augmented Reality Works
Augmented reality is one of the most popular uses today. While virtual reality creates a digital simulation, AR works by adding digital content into real-world environments. It might use a live camera feed, for example, or augment what you’re seeing with additional information. It’s being used in remarkable ways with significant results.
XR and Training Apps
XR apps have revolutionized training experiences in many industries. Companies are using it to model real-life situations to visualize case-specific applications. XR apps allow workers to train safely in situations that otherwise might be high-risk, such as practicing surgical operations, working with high-voltage switching, training pilots, or rehearsing military operations.
It’s also being used by retailers such as Walmart, which claims VR training boosted retention in associates by 10 to 15%. They even used XR training apps to simulate the in-store chaos of Black Friday.
Trainers report that XR training apps help people focus better on the task at hand. Many enjoy the gamification aspects built into the simulations.
XR and Sales Apps
Customers today are looking for a more immersive experience. When they’re at a physical store, they can touch and hold a product. Online, not so much. They’re looking to replicate that in-store experience when shopping online. They want to see how products look in their home before buying them or how they might look with personal care or fashion products.
XR sales apps and cell phone XR apps can enhance the experience by letting them better visualize how products fit their lifestyle. It can enhance sales. As much as 47% of consumers said they’re more likely to engage with products using immersive technology, especially if it can provide personalized recommendations. As high as 61% said they’re more likely to buy after using XR tools.
XR and Collaboration Apps
XR collaboration apps allow multiple people to work on projects at the same time. Using XR collaboration tools, conference calls or video calls can become significantly more productive. As multiple people can visualize situations in AR or VR, participants can work together toward a common goal or find solutions.
Workers could annotate the live video of remote workers or interact with shared 3D virtual objects. Such uses have been shown to improve performance and reduce mental effort.
Technology Solutions to Enhance Your Business
XR is just one of the ways businesses are enhancing the training, collaboration, and sales experiences for their employees and customers.
If you’re looking for technology solutions to improve your business, contact the technology experts at Laminar today.
Laminar specializes in creating streamlined technology that drives solutions for your business. We integrate tech with your business goals to automate operations and execute your vision.