In an era where people do not even get leisure time to spend with their family, travel around the world seems a distant dream.
In an era where people do not even get leisure time to spend with their family, travel around the world seems a distant dream. But, no worries! There are multiple tech-friendly options to take you on a virtual ride while you sit back and relax at home.
It may sound like a catchphrase, but it's all real. A virtual travelling experience is what adds a splash of colour after months of black and white, in the form of travel.
Dreams of travelling through the meadows or a beach in some faraway land may not always come true. However, holding the hand of technology, one can travel anywhere he wishes. It's just like Satyajit Ray's Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, where a clap takes you away from all the worries. But, is virtual reality (VR) travelling really worth it? Subhashree, a travel enthusiast, shares, “If you can afford the gadgets, then why not give it a try. After all, it is cheaper, and more or less as much thrilling as compared to physically travelling to any place.”
However, industry experts opine differently. When asked if VR travel is catching up to real travel, Suman De, Senior Director of Products, Cleartrip, immediately comments, “Not at all. At best it is augmenting the travel sector by giving travellers a glimpse of what to expect at the destination. The move from static images to videos to virtual reality, as inspiration as it is, is a natural progression. However, VR is more constrained in terms of distribution since additional hardware is required.”
He also adds that VR can never replace the real experience of being somewhere. So, it is extremely unlikely for it to replace real travel. Having said that, it does have the potential to democratise travel for groups where the real experience may be out of reach — be it for financial or physical reasons.
Whereas, Sripad Vaidya, Co-Founder, Confirmtkt.com, feels that technology and travel are complementing one another. He shares, “Technology is bringing a lot of changes in travel, both during the trip as well as ahead of it. Technology is not against travel initiatives as it inspires people to travel and, also, makes the travel planning process seamless.”
There are multiple websites and applications that provide a real-life-esque experience such as Ascape Virtual Travel & 360 Video, Jaunt VR, YouVisit VR, GoProVR, all having quite the fan following. Once you open the virtual reality app, you get a library full of available videos.
You can even download or use other apps to search for your preferences. Once your favourable video appears, you just have to attach the smartphone with the VR headphone device and place it over your eyes. Three-four simple steps and you’re good to travel. “Those who get stuck because of one reason or the other, mostly because of finance or time crunch, will get a sigh of relief now,” feels Somenath Chakraborty, a marketing professional.
In the current era, technology has now become the big bet of the day, where consumers are spoilt for choice and are increasingly looking at this intervention even in their travel choices.
Before booking their tickets and choosing the accommodation, travellers are keen on purchasing experiences, and VR offers an effective way to get a taste of what can be expected from the preferred destination, according to Sharat Dhall, COO (B2C), yatra.com.
In his words, “It shortens the entire process and provides an immersive experience, enabling the travel industry to provide a kind of ‘try before you buy’ option.”
VR is a boon and a not a bane — it can be said that it is a significant driver of travel and a great tool for making smooth travelling plans is what Amit Madhan, President and Group Head — Information Technology & E-Business, Thomas Cook India Limited, feels, balancing all the thoughts on a concluding note.