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With the situation surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, individuals are restricted in terms of where they can go, hotels, destinations, and travellers alike have felt the impacts. Tourism has been brought to a standstill, local vacations are still out of the question, and with an increasing number of individuals working from home, business-based travel has also become restricted with stringent regulations in place. 

But, new virtual avenues, and creative marketing can be the game changer in the upcoming years. Cyber tourism and travelling are being met with widespread acceptance and excitement, and hotels and destinations that have a plan on how to go about capitalizing on the trend will be poised for success as the planet reverts to normal and travellers once again start to get their luggage ready, the old-fashioned way. 

Virtual Tourism 101 

Virtual tourism provides participants with an immersive experience of an activity, location, or destination by leveraging the capabilities of technologies. There are various differing varieties of cyber tourism offerings, but there’s typically a conjunction of virtual reality, still imagery, audio, video, interactivity, narration, and other multimedia formats to impart an experience of a destination that a user cannot obtain through imagery or webpages alone. 

Viewers can avail digital tourism content leveraging a virtual reality headset for the most immersive experiences, but they can also typically look at the content on a normal computer or a smartphone. 

What are the advantages of cyber tourism? 

As viewers can experience activities, locales, and destinations from the convenience of their own houses, there are several overt advantages to VR tourism. The most overt of these advantages is that users can view and experience a destination without traversing to it, which implies they aren’t restricted by available flights, travel logistics, safety concerns, and if destinations are accessible. They don’t even have to contemplate with regards to time zones or weather scenarios. 

The other huge advantage for users is expenditure. Cyber tourism makes locales accessible to tons of individuals who may otherwise may not be able to bear the expenditure to travel to them. Viewers are eating up the increase in cyber tourism destinations and the appreciating quality and availability of VR technologies to view and experience stuff they never deemed possible. 

For hotels and destinations, the overt advantage is the capability to stay top-of-mind with prospective clients and to highlight a location, amenities, and offerings. Viewers who have got a feel for a locale or hotel via cyber tourism are more probable to book an upcoming stay, and will eagerly look forward to experiencing the activity in the “real world” 

There are also abundant marketing avenues provided by cyber tourism technology. Prospective guests can view a 360-degree viewpoint of a property and its amenities, over the bland imagery on a webpage or brochures. Getting a feel for a property this way enhances the probability that users will wish to visit in the future, and implies they can simply share the digital offerings with their loved ones. 

And that’s not it. Cyber tourism has a plethora of other advantages: 

  • The immersion facilitates the user to visualize themselves in a travel locale.
  • The viewer can manage what they view of a destination, experiencing 360-degree views of a locale 
  • All aspects/perspectives of a destination can be depicted in high resolution 
  • Hotels, convention, and visitors Bureaus (CVBs) and travel agencies can stand apart from the crowd 
  • The influence of tourism on susceptible destinations is minimized 

How is cyber tourism leveraged? 

There are various brilliant methods for hotels and destinations to reap benefits from this technology and the demand for cyber tourism. 

CVBs have been utilizing virtual tourism for ages to highlight the unique factors of a locale, consisting of everything from history and culture to thrilling activities, local attractions, and fun trivia. 

CVBs, hotels, and local governance leverages 360-degree VR video to capture everything with regards to a locale in a way that facilitates immersion. This enables users experience a remote hill, a picturesque beach, a network of hiking trails, or a busy city with the tap of a button. 

On the contrary, VR photography captures still imagery and puts them together leveraging specialized software, developing an immersive image where a user can view any direction and any perspective. This tech is brilliant for displaying hotel interiors, museum exhibits, artwork, and anything that can be completely experienced with no motion or sound. 

Lastly, completely immersive VR experiences enable travellers to get in on the action, communicating with the environment and identifying more via their actions. This is typically a curated experience concentrating on a singular aspect of the locale, like the cuisine scene, music, history, or art. VR yoga classes, stargazing, nature walks, and bird watching have all become famous ways for a locale to show off everything it has to offer to tourists. 

What are some instances of cyber tourism? 

Below are a bunch of our favourite cyber tourism campaigns from throughout the planet. While every campaign provides something differing, the typical theme is that every one was developed to provide users safe, easy, and interactive accessibility to a locale. 

The Faroe Islands 

The Faroe Islands developed a cyber tourism campaign after COVID-19 started to provide individuals an alternative option to travel to the locale. 

“At the preliminary phases in this international crisis, we sat around and pondered how we could recreate a Faroe Islands experience for travellers who had to forgo or postpone their vacation idea to the Faroe Islands – and for everybody else stranded in isolation around the planet.” reads the virtual tourism segment on Faroe Islands’ Website. “We had a eureka moment. What if we could enable people anywhere on the planet to explore the islands as cyber tourists via the eyes of a local? Or even better, what if the cyber tourists could control the movements of a local in real time?” 

Bristol from your Home 

Much like the Faroe Islands, Visit Bristol (England) developed an immersive experience owing to the COVID-19 situation. Bristol from Home has a collection of traveller’s favourite ideas, and inspirations “so that you can go on enjoying Bristol, in the midst of social distancing measures, from the convenience of your own home.” 

The website has a plethora of cyber options, consisting of tours of a luxury Victorian ship, hot-air balloon rides, gin tastings, and much more, all from one place – your home. 

Dubai 360 

You can see the awe-inspiring architecture of Dubai with Dubai 360 – an immersive cyber tourism experience that facilitates users to traverse the city via a bird’s eye view and learn about the locales scattered throughout. 

“Our services facilitate in increasing online presence, which is critical to marketing anything presently.” reads Dubai360’s website. “We intend to raise you above your competition by putting forth a professional and high quality look, and enhancing your client’s first impressions. The service is just as useful for restaurants, hotels, real estate, malls, or anything that can be indicated visually.” 

Great Barrier Reef 

Even the Great Barrier Reef has cyber tourism offerings. The immersive journey features legendary broadcasting stalwart, David Attenborough, who takes users throughout the planet’s biggest coral reef system. This is much more than just a substitute for Great Barrier Reef Tours – it’s a self-sustaining experience, and it illustrates how versatile cyber tourism can be. 

What does cyber tourism imply for the hospitality industry? 

Cyber tourism is one of the several keys to the travel industry’s fortitude and capability to adapt to and bounce back from harsh times. Displaying everything that a property or locale has to offer is a brilliant way to generate excitement for “normal” travel and retain the destination at the forefront of the mind of the traveller once they are capable of taking vacations again. 

Cyber tourism has been appreciated as a method for restaurants and hotels to illustrate the intangibles of their locale, capturing the particular feel of a place, and ensuring interest from travellers who otherwise may not have had an inkling for it. 

“A true gift of cyber travel is that we can safely and effectively access experiences we’ve always wished to access”, Dennis Watkins, owner of the Magic Parlour in Chicago, stated in an article. “People who are separated by oceans and seas can look at each other and share their stories, ideas, and cultures. When we perform a show for a singular family, we begin to see the capabilities of the cyber space, and I think we’re just now beginning to comprehend and utilize that power.” 

How can hotels capitalize on the cyber tourism trend? 

To determine how best to leverage cyber tourism, hotels should go back to the fundamentals of their hotel marketing plans. What audience are you attempting to reach? What amenities, offerings, or features make your hotel and it locality different and fascinating? What aspects of your property or locale do you desire to highlight? The answers to these queries will form the basis of your cyber tourism offerings. 

If you a set group of experiences that your visitors return to on several occasions, these are a brilliant starting point to begin with your cyber tourism experience. Provide users a tour of your on-location vineyard, art deco décor, sandy beaches, or amazing views. 

As you can develop many differing VR experiences, you can create customized offerings for all of the varied types of guests who reside at your property. A street art tour may be a brilliant fit and apt for young adult travellers, while an immersive symphony orchestra event might be more apt for mature users. Attempt to develop three or four experiences taking into account guests you would like to see at your facilities in the future, and follow up on the cyber experiences with customized packages, content marketing, and targeted informational messaging. 

As you develop your one-of-a-kind cyber tourism offering, remember that this medium is not restricted to the conventional perspective with which your users view your destinations. With cyber tourism, guests could take flight over your property in a hot air balloon, swim in a lake or river without getting drenched, ski down to sit by a roaring fire in your lobby, or zip-line through the trees. By integrating experiences that guests may be able to obtain in person, you’ll evolve beyond the concept of substituting “actual” travel. 

Also, hotels can leverage the cyber tourism boom to make an appeal to planners and their event attendees as well. Not every offering needs to be restricted to guests. Do you have an astounding ballroom with a state-of-the-art A/V system? What about exhaustive meeting space in your beachside houses? Leveraging cutting-edge 3D technologies to develop a cyber experience that illustrates why you are unique and developing demand once meetings and events pick speed back up. 

To put in different words, there are no restrictions on what you can do with cyber tourism offerings. If you can visualize an experience in the physical world, you can probably recreate it in some manner via virtual reality. 

With the situation surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, individuals are restricted in terms of where they can go, hotels, destinations, and travellers alike have felt the impacts. Tourism has been brought to a standstill, local vacations are still out of the question, and with an increasing number of individuals working from home, business-based travel has also become restricted with stringent regulations in place.

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