The Rise of the Immersive Experience in Travel

20 March 2017

In today’s overcrowded market, where the average attention span has now fallen to just eight seconds, it is becoming increasingly difficult to stop consumers in their tracks, give them a clear sense of your brand and immediately communicate what it can do for them. Ideas need to work harder than ever before. Therefore, it is no surprise that new and innovative ways to engage are top of the agenda.

One very popular method of capturing consumer interest is the growing use of immersive technology. By definition, this technology works to minimise external distractions by completely engrossing users in an experience. So, how is this shaping the world of travel marketing?

Virtual Reality

We cannot discuss immersive technology without talking first about the biggest of them all: virtual reality headsets. Many industry leaders have already sung the praises of VR technology as a new form of communication; its ability to provide consumers with deeper engagement across multiple senses, whilst also minimising outside distractions, is a fresh and exciting way for brands to expand their reach.

While many would expect that VR technology only appeals to under 35s, there is also another key target group – and this is parents. A recent report found that that 20% of parents of under-16s have tried a VR headset and 35% of those who hadn’t expressed an interest in doing so (compared to 29% of the total UK market). This growing cross-generational appeal suggests that VR may be here to stay, rather than simply a millennial fad.

Virtual reality is also leaving a particularly strong footprint on the luxury travel sector. Built on the sale of unique adventures and relaxing getaways, the travel industry is perfectly placed to capitalise on the latest obsession with immersive experiences and - so far - it has been. 12% of holidaymakers have already used a virtual reality headset to preview a destination in-store, which rises to 27% of luxury travellers and 32% of luxury big-ticket holiday spenders.

From this data it would seem that the virtual reality trend is showing no signs of slowing down.

Facebook Canvas

In February 2016, Facebook introduced a new immersive mobile advertising platform for iOS and Android phones called Facebook Canvas. Designed to combat slow load times, whilst also allowing brands to showcase their products and services in a more creative way, Canvas is an immersive ad experience that invites consumer participation.

When a user clicks on a Canvas ad, it instantly opens a full-screen display that allows customers to scroll through a variety of media, including static images, image carousels, videos, zoom-friendly panoramas and calls-to-action. Through this scrollable, multimedia technology, brands are given much more freedom to tell a story.

To see an example of Canvas having a significant impact on a recent campaign, look no further than our work with luxury travel provider Kenwood Travel.

Eager to take advantage of Facebook’s new feature, when Kenwood Travel tasked Accord with promoting the Seychelles to potential honeymooners, we opted to make Canvas the focal point of the campaign. Our creative team designed a bold, interactive ad that incorporated image carousels, video and strong calls-to-action. Working this way, we were able to to highlight the spectacular scenery that the Seychelles has to offer, enabling users to become fully engaged in the luxury destination.

The campaign was highly successful, generating 4,412 impressions, with an impressive CTR of 1.62%, as well as garnering 688 likes, 92 comments and 46 shares. In addition, this campaign was a runner-up in the ‘Best Use of Social Media’ category in this year’s Travel Marketing Awards.

360 Videos/Virtual Tours

Another piece of new technology that is becoming increasingly popular is the use of 360 videos, which allow users to rotate their devices, exploring ads from different panoramic perspectives.

Although 360 video technology is certainly not a new phenomenon, it is still expanding its horizons. Rather than being limited to just VR headsets, 360 has found an equally comfortable home on YouTube and Facebook, where it has experienced a lot of success. Off the back of this, Facebook and Twitter both recently announced that they would begin facilitating 360 formats on their live-streaming services, thus moving 360 into the real-time sphere.

In the travel sector, 360 videos can provide virtual tours of potential destinations, hotels, landmark sites and tourist attractions. By showcasing stunning scenery in an immersive format, these videos help potential holidaymakers to visualise the location and, by extension, imagine themselves within it.

Yet again, the data suggests that this technology works. A recent experiment conducted by Google, which compared 360 and standard versions of the same video ad, found that 360 ads had a higher CTR and interaction rate than standard video ads. In addition to this, the 360 ad also drove 41% more earned actions (views, shares and subscribers).

Accord is an independent marketing agency, specialising in travel, tourism and hospitality. We are proud of our forward-thinking approach, technical expertise and creative flair. We’re shaping industry trends and expanding our offering all the time. To find out more, please get in touch today.