Taking ‘try before you buy’ to a whole new level

Imagine walking into a travel agent and being virtually transported to your dream destination. You’re completely immersed, by the pool, watching the sunset and completely sold. You book a trip, leave the store and start counting down the days. It’s not science fiction, it’s the power of VR right now, and it just involves glasses containing freshly made Mojitos.

This exciting technology was at the center of a recent Spark academic project in which semester one MBA students were working with Swiss tech company Inside Reality. The project was titled ‘Travel Agency 5.0’, and explored the consumer experience of using immersive VR at the pre-purchase stage.

“We specialize in virtual reality without glasses”, says CEO Jürgen Debsmann. “Through our immersion rooms, consumers can experience a place in different seasons. They can explore destinations virtually and be fully assured that they are making the right purchase. For travel agents, this technology allows them to identify potential services and business opportunities and make purchasing decisions more Better understanding can help. Moreover, the software is completely web-based and runs on multiple mobile or fixed devices without any installation.”

Research. Analyze. Report.

Across all sectors of the diverse hospitality industry, from tourism and events to luxury travel and hotel real estate, VR has the potential to enhance customer experience while reducing carbon emissions. For the MBA students involved, the task was to canvass opinions about the potential of the technology, before presenting the findings to Jürgen and his team, visiting lecturer and project supervisor, Dr Brendan Cronin, explains.

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“Some of the milestones we had in this project were getting students to do in-depth research for the first time. We then broadened the scope of the research to more countries and analyzed the data to find out the results. The final milestone was presenting the findings to Inside Reality. The students were concerned, but they had solid data and the team was impressed. I was able to see the new technology from both the developer and the end user’s perspective.”

Spark Academic Projects enable undergraduate and postgraduate students to apply their learning, working on real-world projects with real companies. Participants work together to deliver high-value and buildable outcomes. Additionally, the real-world nature presents a depth of learning that cannot be achieved through theoretical studies alone.

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“The project helped me develop both hard and soft skills”, says MBA student Saurabh Kumar. “I was able to see new technology from the perspective of both the developer and the end user. In terms of soft skills, I learned a lot about project management and how you deal with an external company, because we were working as consultants.

Virtual reality is the reality of the future. There is no doubt that hospitality is at the beginning of its journey in terms of using VR, with projects like Travel Agency 5.0 helping to connect technology with consumers and explore use cases.

“This whole concept of using VR in tourism is very new”, says Sourav, “Our research shows that around 73% of respondents are inclined to use this technology. I think it has great potential for all businesses in the future. It helps us to dream more and experience the destination before we are able to go there and live it.

For Jürgen, it’s only a matter of time before immersive VR becomes the preferred way of choosing your next resort, hotel, cruise or home away from home. “One thing we know for sure is that industry expectations are changing around immersion and consistency. VR can help companies reach new markets and customers through a seamless, exciting and ethically aligned experience.

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About Les Roches

Les Roches is a Swiss organization focused on creating the innovative and entrepreneurial minds of tomorrow. Founded in 1954, Les Roches offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in hospitality and tourism management following the Swiss model of education. With campuses across Switzerland and Spain; With a student body of over 100 different nationalities, the institution offers students a unique culturally diverse experience. Until 2021, Les Roches also has an academic alliance with the Indian School of Hospitality (ISH) with its partner campus in Gurugram (Delhi NCR).

Les Roches is one of the world’s top 5 higher education institutions for hospitality and leisure management and employer reputation (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2022). Part of Sommet Education, the global leader in hospitality education, Les Roches is accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE).

For more information, visit Les Roches.

Anouck Weiss
Chief Communications Officer, Somet Education
Les Roches

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