Although many see it as cutting edge, virtual reality is not a modern idea by any means. As a matter of fact, the term was first coined in the 1950’s, way back when computers were giant bulky things that took up an entire room! Sadly, though the concept was there, the technology simply was not, and the idea of widely-available virtual reality experiences and applications was relegated to the realms of science fiction.
60 years later, we’re living in a world of smartphones and tablets and virtual reality technologies have seen a resurgence in popularity. We’ve reached a point where our capabilities have caught up with our vision, and more people than ever before are enjoying the benefits of virtual reality for both business and pleasure.
What Is Virtual Reality?
Virtual Reality (or VR) is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment. Unlike traditional user interfaces, VR creates the illusion that users are present in a place where they are not, effectively integrating them as part of an experience rather than as spectators. This technology, now harnessed properly, has allowed businesses across numerous sectors to show off their facilities and services at a level that has simply not been possible until recently.
As you can imagine, virtual reality tours naturally lend themselves to the hospitality, leisure and tourism industry and have proved immensely popular. Ideal for hotels, conference centres, tourist attractions, wedding venues, restaurants, and other similar businesses, VR tours allow potential customers and clients to ‘drop in’, take a look around and really get a feel of what a location will be if they were to visit in person.
Known as sticky content, virtual tours and other related technologies – such as 360 videography – have proven effective at increasing the level of interaction on a website. Moreover, they are often incredibly well-received when shared on social media, as they allow a profile’s Followers to interact with a brand on a much deeper and more personal level.
Virtual Reality Technology In Digital Marketing
When used effectively by businesses, VR tours can help maximise engagement and enhance the customer experience. With the proliferation of mobile technologies, customers are demanding more information than ever before in their decision-making process; including wanting to experience what a place or event will be like before they proceed any further.
The growing interest from businesses looking at 360 drone videos, Virtual tours, 360 video and 360 photospheres to reach out to customers has not been limited by sector, only imagination. In fact, there are examples of VR and 360 technology being successfully utilised by estate agents, housing developers, architects, surveyors, shopping centres, sporting arenas, hospitals, kitchen & bathroom suppliers, builders, conservatory companies, and even care homes; such as St Luke’s Hospice in Plymouth.
Another exciting example of VR’s potential can be found on numerous school and university websites, as virtual tours have become a realistic alternative to attending open days in person. The use of virtual tour technology allows educational institutions to show off their campus, location and facilities to potential students and their families, without their having to worry about travel costs, taking time off work, or distance from home.
Some businesses have even started to send out branded VR goggles, as stats show people will often keep returning to the same virtual environment to discover more information. This, in turn, can enhance organic engagement, social sharing, brand awareness, increases web presence and, ultimately, help to generate revenue.
Author: Alem Al-Khamiri
The head of SEO, PPC and digital content at Optimus-PM, Alem is Google AdWords certified and has years of digital marketing & website management experience.