Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of industries have faced the question; “which way now?” And for some of them, change is coming more naturally than others. Much like Interpreting services have very rapidly had to move to the virtual space, the travel sector is in a unique position to fill up some gaps in the traveling demands with the rise of technological tools.
The Virtual Reality Market is expected to reach close to 21 billion because of Covid-19. So, the way in which VR can be useful to the travel industry is two-fold. For one, VR can offer a safe way for travelers to experience remote areas and keep revenues up even during times of travel restrictions. And secondly, even when the world once again receives the green light, this relatively new technology will have settled in people’s minds as part of the greater travel experience.
Learn more about the key ways in which Virtual Reality is transforming the industry, and how this technology can thrive within a multilingual strategy.
What Can VR Mean for the Travel Industry?
The travel industry has been making interesting strides in both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Both technologies are designed with different goals in mind. While VR will create a real-life experience for people to indulge in, AR plays around with the reality already around us, and adds digital features to make the experiences richer, more practical, and more informative.
Let’s see how this applies to the three crucial travel pillars: transport, accommodation, and cultural outings.
Transportation: Augmented For Ease And Information
Imagine you are just getting off your plane. You are exhausted and you just want to get to the hotel for some much-needed relaxation. AR Travel Apps answer this need for quick and easy navigation through strange cities, by developing software such as Tunnel Vision, a multilingual, interactive app that helps travelers move swiftly through the New York Subway system. Some AR Apps take it further and expand their features to also cover the travel route aboveground, marking taxis as available/occupied, detailing bus times, and even sharing some interesting facts along the way.
Accommodation: New Ways of Staying
When is the last time you remember picking up a pamphlet to get more information? They are still around, but the general public is noticing them less and less in favor of more high-tech alternatives. When it comes to hotels and accommodations, both VR and AR can prove to be effective in terms of boosting the client experience including Gamification, and creative ways of providing information.
For example, Hub Hotel has added an interactive map to every room that becomes visible when the guests use their Smartphones. VR, on the other hand, can be an indispensable tool in hospitality marketing and advertising. Just think about the 360 degrees VR tour by the lavish Valamar Dubrovnik President hotel.
Museums and Galleries: Revolutionizing Online Exhibitions
If Covid-19 has taught us anything about economy and business, it is that survival of the fittest applies here as well. This became clear when cultural giants such as the MET, the Guggenheim, and the Uffizi, went virtual and attracted thousands of online visitors each month. Next to revolutionizing the idea of online exhibitions, the urgency created by the pandemic has helped the evolution of VR technologies take off and established a demand that is bound to leave its mark.
A giant in the virtual culture game is Art Basil’s Online Viewing Rooms, which brings together the world’s leading art galleries in an online experience running in October 2020. The collection features 234 galleries showing around 2100 works collectively. To add a level of interaction and commerce, a ZoomRoom will be added so that artists and potential collectors can wander the rooms together.
Multilingual VR: What Does Your Global Audience Want to See?
As a great marketing tool and a way to immerse the audience in a rich experience even during times of restrictions, let’s look a little bit more closely at VR. The term itself suggests it, VR is all about bringing a real experience to the digital world. So of course, you won’t have any words floating on the screen. VR Translation and Localization will play on a different front that involves creating a visual space that feels natural to your target locale(s).
The Gaming Industry is already a few steps ahead in developing VR as a way to make alternate realities more real and tangible. The travel industry has the chance to make real-life accessible and appealing to different markets by being strategic in how your brand is presented to each locale.
Forget About Text! Think About Voice-Over and Body Language
Localization is about connecting with an international audience in a very real and personal way. And considering the average person only needs seconds to form either positive or negative impression, Voice-Over and body language can be either your greatest strength or your greatest enemy. In terms of Voice-Over, technical, linguistic, and cultural considerations will need to be taken into account including:
- Determining the gender, age, and nationality of the voice-over artist.
- Making sure the vendor leverages a Glossary including technical and product-related terms and a Style Guide with any Brand-Specific Instructions as well as Translation Memory (TM).
- Hiring a skilled linguist who can work with the time-sensitive sentence flow while still maintaining the original feel and message.
- Setting an engineer the task of overcoming any technical issues and applying a thorough QA.
If you are making use of a virtual narrator, animated or real, your VR Simulation will require some extra attention. The point of a virtual guide is that they interact with you in a personal and engaging manner. So, make sure you consider the subconscious use of gestures and what they could communicate to different cultures. These can be as subtle as hand movements, eye contact, and even posture. Also, consider hiring talent with the same nationality to your audience.
Cultural Preferences in Imagery and Special Offers: VR as an International Marketing Tool
Voice and body language matter, but of course what you decide to showcase takes center stage. Imagine you are offering a VR experience of your property. You boast some unique features that give guests a home away from home feel, and you are wondering how your business can be presented best to each of them. Especially since post-pandemic travel is expected to lean more towards private and homely properties.
If you are looking to give the best possible impression for each locale you are looking to attract, it won’t do to just have the same VR version in different languages available. You’ll have to look at your guests, look at your property, and see what aspects these specific guests would appreciate most about it.
For example, a study by online travel agency Agoda revealed that:
- 55 percent of Indonesians, 54 percent of Malaysians, and 53 percent of Filipinos are looking for accommodations with the ability to welcome larger groups and families.
- 57 percent of Singaporeans, 54 percent of Thais, and 46 percent of Australians are turning to private or guest-house accommodations to find a cheaper alternative to hotels.
This kind of information can help you draw conclusions about how your property should be presented to guests with different cultural backgrounds and preferences. Offer a visual feast of large open spaces around the property and big family rooms when targeting the Indonesian, Malaysian, and Philippine markets. When talking to Singapore and Australia, couple your best features with a voice-over mentioning any special offers and low-cost opportunities.
VR and AR have been around for a while and already have some real-life applications in the Travel Industry, but in the current climate, their demand has grown and created an environment where these technologies can flourish also outside of travel restrictions.
With an increase in demand, comes an increase in the need for strong, multilingual strategies. This is where Multimedia Localization, Mobile App Localization, and any required service can take charge and meet this demand by streamlining a bullet-proof process combining both linguistic and technical expertise.