I was having a late-night discussion with my father when he droned on about the “chore” of air travel two decades ago. Long queues, embarrassing security checks and confrontational passport officers seemed to turn a one-hour flight into a half-day nightmare.
How much more fun, he said, were his two round-the-world trips yesterday. As a recent subscriber to Virgin Virtuality (VV for short) he has been able to travel like never before, at virtually zero cost, and experience the world “more sensually and vividly than I can ever remember.”
VV is just one of the in-home immersive reality experiences that have saturated the market in the past three years – decimating traditional travel and tourism industries. They have harnessed the plethora of crowd-sourced websites such as TripAdvisor and YouTube to create a dynamic front end experience using breakthrough ‘virtual sensing’ software licensed to them by Peach, a new London-based start-up founded by CEO Jo X (21).
Their slogan “If you have to be there, you’re not getting the real deal!” seems to be resonating in the marketplace. User experiences have peaked at “97% better than positive” in the latest Google poll published yesterday. They are definitely doing something right – filling a consumer need and reaping huge profits.
Perhaps surprisingly, the primary users are the over-40s who have had enough of the ‘real’ alternatives; my father being a good example.
Of course there’s a gadget involved. A ‘retina display’ that is already more popular than the iPhone ever was. It gives us images from which virtually all noise has been extracted, with so much pixel density that we feel they’re appearing ‘right in my head’. Most users can’t believe their eyes and ears.
To have a holiday abroad you simply don’t have to go to the airport anymore – the destination comes to you. The experience seems fuller and more satisfying.
The tourism revolution has just begun. The impact will be massive, especially in those destinations that have little else in revenue potential. What other industries will be transformed by the advent of ‘Virtuality’ and the effective ‘end of reality’?