By now, we should all know that video will be the future of content consumption. We know that 74 percent of all internet traffic in 2017 will be consumed by video. We also know that 55 percent of people watch video everyday online.
And with the growth of video, virtual reality IS the next big thing in marketing.
It is estimated that 171 million people will be using virtual reality hardware and software by 2018, with nearly 1.3 million people already subscribing to YouTube’s 360 channel. But with the potential growth of virtual reality, it is imperative that destinations approach it with caution. The financial investment is not cheap. The education level of the masses is still low. And quite frankly, some people are actually scared of virtual reality.
So before you jump into the virtual reality space, you should understand that virtual reality is not a replacement for the sales experience – it is an enhancement to the overall sales experience. In addition, here are three things that destination marketing organizations need to know about using virtual reality in their marketing efforts:
#1 | Invest in the proper equipment. I am a believer that virtual reality is a one-to-one experience. Because of the low education level that exists around virtual reality, it is not something that I think should be thrown to the masses. Just because you can share it with everyone doesn’t necessarily mean you have to. Sure platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube allow you to upload virtual reality videos, but the experience is underwhelming when you compare it to that of wearing headsets. By investing in the proper phones and headsets, you have the option to create a more personalized experience for every person who wants to see your destination.
#2 | Showcase your niche experiences. Virtual reality videos are huge files. The longer the video, the bigger the file. The bigger the file on your mobile phone, the quicker your battery drains. Trying to show your entire destination in one video is not the most feasible option. In the same vein of keeping videos shorter, make your VR experiences short too and segment them out by niche. Depending upon how you roll out your videos to market, you’ll find that customers will interact with your video in the same way they do with videos on desktops, tablets or mobiles. While I believe the VR experience is one that lends itself to longer viewing times, there are still people who will only view a snippet. For those people, you can be better prepared and ask them what type of experience they want to see and then open the best video that is applicable to their needs.
#3 | Walkthrough your facilities. Meeting planners are already doing their research on your destination prior to attending tradeshows. And while they may see photos of your convention center and off-site venues, the option to see a facility without having to jump on a plane or drive to a destination is very appealing. If the meeting planner sees your facilities through virtual reality and still wants to come for a site visit, then you can make that visit much more efficient because they have already weeded out the facilities that are not of interest to them and their groups.
There are a myriad of ways to promote your virtual reality experiences, but it is important to keep in mind that the financial investment is not cheap and that the education of virtual reality is still low. Desktop, tablet and mobile VR experiences are underwhelming when you compare it to that of wearing VR headsets. So, no matter how you choose to invest in virtual reality for your destination, the underlying theme here is to make it as personalized as possible.
Sources: https://www.fool.com/investing/2016/06/06/12-virtual-reality-stats-that-will-blow-you-away.aspx; http://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2016/12/infographic-video-marketing-statistics-2017.html; https://www.statista.com/topics/840/smartphones/