(7 minute read) 

By Sean Boyle

The term “virtual tour” has been used in past to describe a kind of tourism where a person may experience a setting or place without actually being there.

How does a virtual -tour benefit an Industry?

“A virtual tour provides extra confidence in your business as clients and customers can see inside and view how and where you work. Clients naturally feel more confidence in business they can see and so in long run it Increase traffic and engagement on your business.”

Industries which are most likely to benefit from Virtual Tours:

  • Retail
  • Health-care
  • Film & Entertainment
  • Automotive
  • Marketing & Advertising
  • Construction & Real Estate
  • Sports
  • Education
  • Tourism
  • Aerospace

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1. Retail

With numerous industries benefiting from Virtual Reality, retail has also experienced a huge leap by employing VR. Using VR, retail showrooms can now showcase everything from multiple shades of a fabric to different furniture models, without having to physically store these products on-site. An additional benefit to retailers comes with an insight into customer behaviors, as customers get to try and test various products before purchasing.

VR technology is an excellent tool to increase profit and attract customers in retail. People have shown their appreciation of VR service and are eager to go further.  Customers are strongly interested in virtual shopping.

Virtual reality experience provides customers with a completely new level of service from an ability to try on clothes while at home to decorating a room that is not even built yet. Variety of solutions makes it a highly applicable and adjustable tool. Big companies like IKEA, eBay or Topshop have already put VR into practice, each of them in their unique way. While IKEA suggests their customers a tour to a virtual kitchen of their dreams, eBay has built an interactive personalized catalog for easy shopping.

VR-based scenarios and simulations also give them the power to perfect their sales technique and negotiation skills. For example, employees must interact with a virtual customer to identify their needs and find a suitable product.

Last, but not least, virtual reality allows your sales team to meet periodically and discuss common challenges. A sales manager from Ohio could share their experiences and insights with an employee from your London branch. Best of all, they can conduct their meeting in VR that is immersive and interactive, instead of looking at a computer screen.

2. Health Care

Virtual human anatomy models and realistic virtual environments allow healthcare professionals to gain an insight without working on a real human body. This is useful for both experienced professionals as well as for students who are performing new, high-risk procedures. Therefore, VR training offers these professionals with the best, hands-on, online training which enables them to provide uncompromised patient care. Ultimately this translates into fewer cases of negligence and malpractice, thereby lowering liability insurance costs.

We all hope one day there will be no diseases and the world will be a perfectly healthy place. But until then we should keep developing the health care industry and the latest technology is what can help. Virtual reality is among them.

In most cases, acquiring real world experience on-the-job simply isn’t feasible, as every decision could mean the difference between life and death. With virtual reality, medical professionals are able to explore every procedure and learn how to care for patients without any risk involved. They can also participate in realistic tutorials that allow them to interact with the objects.

VR in healthcare can be useful for both patients and doctors. People receive therapy with VR applications to fight fears and phobias. There already exist solutions aimed to educate and share experience: virtual surgeries, emergency training, VR anatomy applications. There was even a live stream of an operation – that’s how far it went.

But this is only the beginning. We have just started discovering the full potential of extended realities in healthcare and medicine. Maybe in five or 10 years, we won’t even have to leave our house to get examined by a doctor and surgeries will be done remotely by operating a robot.

3. Film & Entertainment

First it was just a moving picture. Then it turned into a 3D image. Now you can watch a film and be a part of it. Virtual reality cinemas is definitely a thing we should expect to appear more in the near future.

This new approach to storytelling blurs the boundaries between the story and the viewer making him a central element of the movie. There has even appeared a new term – “cinematic VR” – a type of VR experience based on 360-degree videos filmed with a special camera. However, such films can also be made from scratch using 3D graphics, like this short movie about a shark attack.

Many companies have started embracing virtual technology to present their products with a twist. For example, Sony announced developing a “non-game virtual reality project” based on the TV show Breaking Bad and Disney offers a range of immersive entertainment based on their animation films.

4. Marketing & Advertising

Marketers today are in constant search of better ways to draw customer’s attention. People are getting bored of typical advertising and virtual reality is what can awe them. VR experience offers people a unique way to interact with the brand that will surely be remembered.

There is no one way how to use VR for advertising – each brand comes up with new solutions and creative ideas. Some, like Patron, use 360 videos to tell about the story of their company and product. Topshop, for example, offered their customers an entertainment dedicated to their summer collection. Such a flexible tool as virtual reality grants marketer’s endless opportunities to create and excite their customers.

5. Automotive

In the automotive industry, VR has changed the processes for safety, design, and purchasing. VR’s realistic elements enable engineers and designers to analyze how a new vehicle would look and perform without building multiple models. Besides, the outside environment can also be virtually replicated for conducting safety trials on vehicles, without exerting the energy and time required to run the actual tests. Today, major brands, such as Hyundai, Ford, and Volvo are using VR for designing and sales. All the vehicles are made available to the customers who can now try everything from examining vehicle features to test driving. Therefore, with the advent of VR, the need for a dealership showroom will now be obsolete.

VR’s potential in the automotive industry is starting to unleash. First steps were taken several years ago and since then companies keep exploring what VR can bring them.

Creating a concept and designing a manufacturing line based on virtual data was an idea of Ford. Ford’s Immersive Vehicle Environment is aimed to combine forces of engineers from different countries to work on the design and simulate assembly work taking into account employee safety.

Volvo and Audi, on the other side, focused on user experience. The first one offered their customers an opportunity to take a virtual test drive using their smartphone, while Audi’s application allowed the customers to try various configurations of the car.

6. Construction & Real Estate

While modeling is important in automotive VR training, gamification is the core of skilled trades and construction. Today, VR provides a virtual, game-like environment for workers to practice using tools, without touching any hardware. For instance, consider the program created by Campfire Union for tower crane operators. This program employs cloud-based, multi-player technology allowing two operators in different locations to easily co-ordinate activities in the same virtual space. One immediate benefit of VR training is that it saves a lot of money, which otherwise has to be invested in materials for practice. Today, similar programs are available for other high-risk activities, such as forklift operation. Even lower-risk skilled trades, such as painting and welding are also using VR, where labors can refine their skills before they dive into the work.

Architects and designers also benefit from implementing VR into their work. With virtual reality, it is much easier to visualize the construction plan, check if there are any mistakes and share opinions with colleagues.

Real estate agents have the opportunity to tour properties in an instant to see if they are suitable for their clients, instead of having to attend numerous open houses. More experienced real estate professionals can use VR to mentor new hires and show them the ropes. For example, the real estate agent can show them how to stress the selling points of the property or help them build their negotiation skills.

Architecture is one of the major industries benefiting from VR. This is because VR has the potential to transform the way engineers design buildings, as it enables them to experiment with different aspects of a building, such as layout, material, and lighting. In addition to this, VR also allows customers to take virtual tours of these projects and understand how it looks and feels. Further, editing the architectural design before or during construction saves enormous money, prevents complicated re-works, and avoids miscommunication.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Especially when it comes to construction and design – it is much easier to persuade a person to buy or rent a house if they see it. And virtual reality is a perfect tool for visualization.

75% of users prefer a virtual tour to help them to take a decision. Virtual tours allow a customer to see and explore the house or a flat at any time without leaving a comfortable office. In some cases, it is even possible to take a look at the building in construction and make some changes to the owner’s taste. Interactive applications also allow playing with design and furnishing to style the accommodation.

7. Sports

Sport attracts a lot of attention. Millions of people watch matches or races on TV and the internet and thousands visit live events. VR combines the excitement of a live event with the comfort of your own home. There are services that broadcast live events using 360 cameras. In such a case the viewer enjoys the experience as if they were there in person.

Professional athletes adopted VR as a means of training. US Olympic ski team members used virtual sessions to prepare for the Winter Olympics in South Korea. One of the skiers even used it as a part of her post-trauma rehabilitation.

Virtual reality in sports is undoubtedly useful for both the spectators and the sportsmen so VR broadcasting and immersive training will definitely take their place in the industry.

8. Education

Education must be interesting to be efficient. That is true for both children and adults. Immersive workshops and simulators contribute to educational process increasing students’ engagement and general efficiency. Virtual workshops will help children learn how laws of physics actually work, what the Solar system looks like and how to grow a plant.

Educational applications are not always tied up to the school environment. People of different professions use VR simulators to upgrade their skills. It is especially important when it helps people avoid or cope with dangerous situations: there are solutions for firefighters, doctors, military. Training and workshops are themselves a useful activity, but VR adds even more value making them innovative and engaging.

Virtual Reality technology is majorly used for training purposes in the education industry, from surgeons to mechanics, harness the benefits of VR. However, for the younger students, VR in classroom includes immersive games, virtual field trips and some interactive sessions for children having special needs. Such immersive, game-based experiences make students highly innovative, as things which are not possible in reality are possible in virtual reality. Therefore, the virtual platform serves as a new tool that inspires creative learning among students.

9. Tourism

The same as real estate, the tourism sphere takes all the advantages of VR as a visualization tool. Travel agencies now have the ability to showcase the destination much better than with a brochure. Thomas Cook used virtual tours across different locations to convince people they should travel more. It is reported that this move resulted in 190% uplift in New York excursion bookings.

Besides traveling around the world, VR solutions also include visiting museums and galleries. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The British Museum presented 360 video excursions to let people see the treasures they have. Seeing them on screen may encourage some to go there in real life.

VR enables guided tours to any place across the world, thereby allowing tourists to virtually visit the destination before they plan an actual trip. This particularly helps travelers to learn more about smaller and less-explored places. Besides, travel and hospitality firms also showcase their accommodations and destinations using interactive technology to enable potential guests to experience and explore the grounds before they book. The collaboration between Samsung Gear VR and Thomas Cook is one such successful example, which offers realistic presentation of all the Thomas Cook locations worldwide.

Travel agents can take a tour of accommodations to determine if they are recommendation-worthy, or go on an hour-long cruise around the Mediterranean before they book the real thing for their clients. Hotel managers can also utilize Virtual Reality training to teach their staff how to prepare the rooms and the proper way to interact with guests. One of the most significant benefits of Virtual Reality training is that it is soft-skill compatible, and soft skills are essential in the hospitality industry

10. Aerospace Sector

The aerospace sector is becoming highly immersive as the VR technology enables collaboration during every step of building and maintaining processes. This collaborative technology supports better communication and improves understanding among employees working in different departments. Engineers, designers and manufacturers are now able to interact better and create quality products at a faster pace using visualization and product behavior testing. VR allows realistic visualization which enables a strong relationship between different departments, which promotes better understanding at every stage of designing and building. As the communication gap is bridged, grounds controllers, service workers, pilots, and engineers can maintain the products efficiently.

Below is an estimate made by Goldman Sachs on the investment in VR technology by 2025:

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