Try before you buy: Contiki offers travellers a virtual holiday before the wallets come out

When we think about going on holiday often our imagination kicks in. We might picture ourselves on some luscious tropical island, lying on the beach, pina colada in hand, listening to the soothing sound of rolling waves or maybe even off on some big adventure, backpacking across Europe or Asia perhaps. Well, now Contiki is giving prospective travellers the opportunity to truly envision a travel adventure, with the use of virtual reality technology.

At the moment, Contiki is luring travellers who are thinking of heading to America with a virtual trip to the destination.

The glasses were a real hit, says Contiki regional director of sales and marketing New Zealand Tony Laskey.

“The glasses help us tell our story and to paint the picture of a destination, the two most important tools to create the desire to travel, and ultimately sell travel to 18-35 year olds.”

The use of virtual reality has been in the pipeline for some time for Contiki when it identified the technology last year as a new, exciting and completely immersive way to show product offering at trade shows.

Earlier in the year Contiki’s global video director Ben Gattegno headed out to the U.S. to shoot a number of iconic destinations in 360-degree video. The minute-long video features a Contiki trip manager introducing the traveller’s trip and snippets of the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, Times Square New York, Las Vegas and the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, a release says.

The below video, ‘Cliff Diving’ is the next one Contiki will load on to its virtual reality set and when viewed on desktop viewers can direct both 360 videos using a mouse and when viewed on a mobile viewers can move the handset around manually to move the image.

The Travel Corporation PR and digital media executive Rebecca Lee says its one of the only travel brands creating videos internally and using the technology on a regular basis. “Youth travel brand Contiki has quickly adopted virtual reality and are creating our own VR videos which allow travellers to experience the destinations we visit before booking a trip.”

Contiki group marketing director Alexis Sitaropoulos, says virtual reality technology represents a way for Contiki to bring its product, “amazing destinations and experiences” right in front of consumers in a way that is easy, engaging and fun.

“There is literally no better way to get a potential traveller excited about looking over the edge of Niagara falls, or casting their eyes around the top of Machu Picchu than having them put on a headset and experience it in virtual reality. One of our VR experiences involved [above clip]Cliff Diving on Italy’s Amalfi coast. The sensation of altitude you feel is incredible.”

“We’re lucky to be in a position to innovate with VR this year, but with the introduction of consumer VR technology coming next year we’ll be working to find ways to remain innovators, continuing to push the boundaries of what brands are doing with this technology,” he says.

Sitaropoulos also offers a tip for brands wanting to start using virtual reality technology.

“If you’re going to do it, do it well. VR content can be expensive and logistically tricky to capture so it’s worth putting in the effort to highlight something show-stopping. At Contiki the attitude we’ve taken towards VR content is that we never want to rely on the novelty value of the tech to impress, we want to maximise its potential and give people a VR experience that’s truly breath-taking,” he says.

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