How Virtual Reality is Transforming Travel

By Abi King | Responsible Travel

Jan 29

Vengeance and philosophy in ancient Athens

One of the most interesting parts of this job involves heading behind the scenes and talking to people about what they do. Formula One Race Engineers, Underwater Photographers. Even, poignantly, a survivor from the Nagasaki Atom Bomb drop.

But today I’m talking to the experts at Adobe about travel technology and where it’s taking us.

What does the future hold for virtual travel? Augmented travel? Personalised advertising, travel apps, itineraries and who knows what about you?

These travel tech experts are the people who know where we’re going before we do.

And if we’re lost, they already know where we are.

The Digital Travel Explosion: Talking with Adobe

As someone old enough to remember paper maps, the digital tech explosion dazzles with a mix of suspicion, wonder and awe.

I still write for paper magazines. I earn a living through this blog. I delve and dabble into every social media network and thrive on surfing the whole travel tech wave.

So when Adobe invited me to consult on the consumer side of the subject, it seemed a natural fit.

At their futuristic London Shoreditch offices and over a series of six interviews, we discussed and exchanged ideas on how technology, travel and advertising intersect.

How do travel companies decide which hotels to show you instead of the person clicking next to you?

Where and how do those adverts follow you around the web?

When are these practices helpful – and when are they simply annoying?

The answers to these questions, and more, evolved over the six separate interviews.

Abigail King in London Shoreditch Adobe

On the interview couch at Adobe…

Related: Malta’s Azure Window Has Gone; And That’s Not the Only Thing

Virtual and Augmented Reality in Travel

Today marks the launch of the first video interview, which you can find over here with Vijay Gupta, the Head of Product & Industry Marketing at Adobe.

We talk about how virtual reality is transforming travel and then move on to consider augmented reality as well. What is the difference I hear you ask?

Put simply, virtual reality doesn’t involve travel. It tends to involve wearing headsets and visors and staying in one place.

Augmented reality is different. One small example would be holding up your smartphone to a landmark while travelling. Augmented reality means that the phone would add in an overlay to tell you what the landmark is or what else is close by.

Beyond AR and VR, the technology that underpins travel marketing is phenomenal.

As travellers or consumers, what do we need to be wary of? What can we look forward to?

How much privacy are we happy to give away in exchange for better, easier, faster service?

And what is it that makes that service good in the first place?

Some of the “future” trends are here already, as voice activated commands become more commonplace through Amazon Echo and Siri.

Or, as Vijay says, it’s the removal of one more barrier.

Imagine talking in a different language while travelling – when your phone can keep up with the task of translating and does so through speech.

That would be amazing.

I think.

People on Circular Quay The Rocks

Travel Tech for Travellers

It’s focused, travel tech stuff. So if you’re just here to look for inspiration for your next trip away then you may prefer this handy guide to the Best Places to Travel in February 2018.

But if, like me, you’re curious about the power and decisions that lie behind this industry that’s arguably the biggest in the world…well, tune in for each of the instalments.

I certainly learned a lot. I hope you do too.

What do you think about the future of travel technology? Do you like the advances you see? Or do you find some of it creepy?

Disclosure: Adobe hired me to conduct these interviews and talk about these subjects. As ever, as always, I kept the right to write and say what I like. Otherwise, what is the point?!


About the Author

Abigail King is an award-winning writer and author who swapped a successful career as a hospital doctor for a life on the road. With over 60 countries under her belt, she's worked for Lonely Planet, the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and more. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and was invited to speak on the subject at the EU-China High Level summit at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.Here she writes about food, travel and history and she invites you to pull up a chair and relax. Let's travel more and think more. Welcome!

  • Danny says:

    A fascinating read, Abi! Not entirely sure how I feel about the prospect of VR in general, let alone in travel, but I can absolutely see the potential for it to be used in incredible ways! Interesting to wonder about how we’ll come to define travel in future. Looking forward to following the series and learning some more! :)

    • Abi King says:

      Thanks Danny. I agree in that when I first started thinking about VR it seemed… wrong in a hard to define way. Perhaps there are enough pulls from reality as it is. What I feel we need are more ways to actually ENGAGE with reality, people, nature and so on instead of delving into our screens.

      But then… is this just the next natural step? And just as we used to look a brochure, we now look at videos on youtube in order to help inspire us and decide how and where we want to travel. Why not VR?

      I can definitely see exciting applications! Am more worried about the data collection and privacy to be honest.

      Ah well, the future looks interesting!

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