Tigerbay showcased a virtual reality (VR) skiing simulation at Travel Technology Europe last month, and manager director Carl Morgan is more than pleased with the results.
The 360-degree video of a Mark Warner ski holiday experience (below) – including plenty of slope action as well as chalet life – was available to view on Tigerbay’s stand using an Oculus Rift headset.
But why did Tigerbay, most commonly known as a sales and management technology platform, team up with Mesmerise and Guacho Productions and decide to go down this path – or rather piste? “Our virtual reality innovation came as a direct result of our young team of coders creating a product which addresses the future of how consumers will access tech,” says Morgan.
"I noticed a lot of visitors who tried the headset on were not aware that they could turn their head around to see the 360-degree view"
“VR, and indeed augmented reality (AR), are huge trends in the market right now and although most sophisticated among the gaming community still, their applications will increasingly move into the business environment.
“Knowing AR/VR is here to stay, we made the decision to create a tool for tour operators which, although limited in its application today as it’s an immersive, rather than interactive, video experience, has the potential to evolve rapidly.”
So what was the reaction from the showfloor? “Real excitement,” claims Morgan. “There was lots of genuine interest. Actually, I noticed a lot of visitors who tried the headset on were not aware that they could turn their head around to see the 360-degree view,” he adds.
“After a short while of watching the movie, sitting motionless, we would remind them to move their head and look around. That’s when the experience really wowed them; it’s definitely new tech to most people, and it’s always funny to think back years later and remember how new tech wows people.”
"Although we might not know what a VR/AR world could look like in 30 years’ time, we do know change is ahead. Screens could become as anachronistic as the horse and carriage"
For the future, Morgan tips that this kind of technology will soon find its way into the booking process. The plan is that the video will let Mark Warner showcase an in-resort experience as part of the website booking process – and so becoming a new sales tool for tour operators to use during the customer’s online booking journey.
“Our project, in its current iteration, allows the user to ‘road test’ their holiday in a way still images simply cannot,” Morgan adds. “As the technology advances however, we can see such videos becoming integrated into the booking process, enabling consumers to select room types, add-ons and other ancillaries from within the video experience.
“Seeing a holiday product being professionally presented in VR is quite powerful. Marketing heads really did see potential for near future use.”
Morgan wants to continue to evolve the concept into other holiday sectors, but voices concern over costs. “Quality filming is not cheap,” he notes.
“The VR aspect does not really add any extra cost, but skills are still emerging in the production industry… however, we think scuba diving will work really well.”
Yet Tigerbay believes that a tipping point has also been reached, regarding take-up and acceptance of the technology. He cites Christmas 2016 as proof with sales of VR headsets, from all brands and across all price points, breaking records. Investment, meanwhile, into VR and AR technologies is also now in the billions every year.
“Clearly this is an area that is only set to grow. Although we might not know what a VR/AR world could look like in 30 years’ time, we do know change is ahead. Screens could become as anachronistic as the horse and carriage,” he adds.