Virtual reality is not new. I remember years ago strapping on a beach ball-sized helmet and going through mazes with my Gateway computer. Not Kidding.
What’s new is the sophistication of the technology. You really do feel immersed in the experience and that could be a problem for the travel industry. All you need is a Samsung smartphone and a $2 cardboard cutout to get in on the action. But will virtual reality ruin the travel industry?
Probably not and here’s why. What happens when a friend or family member gets back from a trip abroad? They show you tons of pictures and videos but YOU don’t feel like you were there. You didn’t experience the once-in-a-lifetime thrill or breathtaking sunset. That’s virtual reality. It gives you the essence without the substance. If anything, these experiences INSPIRE you to go there yourself.
The fact is that people feel connected when they’re around other people. We lose interest or feel isolated after spending too much time alone. Virtual reality will have an overall positive effect for the travel industry. We’re already seeing more amusement parks, and even museums use it in creative ways. Check out this VR family entertainment center:
Still worried VR will make travel obsolete?
Consider the competition fitness gyms have experienced from smartphone apps. Different industry, yes, but they too provide life-enhancing experiences. You can now get expert physical trainer advice from your own home. However, according to the 2016 IHRSA Report, “total health club visits annually in the US increased by 25% since 2009.” Again showing that digital experiences can’t replace IRL (In Real Life) experiences.
Also, we know that too much entertainment consumption can be harmful. It’s estimated that some 3 million 8 to 18 year-olds could be suffering from video game dependency. Our society is becoming more health-conscious regarding screen time and over consumption of media. So I don’t see us plugging into the matrix any time soon.