Skift Take

Some travelers love knowing exactly what to expect before they step foot in a destination so Oculus offers another fun way to get that insight. The question that remains is will travelers actually buy these headsets, and how long will it take before virtual reality becomes mainstream for destinations?

Tourism marketing teams can only praise the allure of their destinations so many times before taking their message in a new direction, or in some cases an alternate dimension.

Destination British Columbia rolled out its Oculus Rift virtual reality experience, “The Wild Within,” this week for travel media and trade professionals in U.S. cities such as New York and Washington, D.C.

Users wear a headset and headphones to completely immerse themselves in a 360-degree experience, giving them the choice of two virtual adventures. One option takes users on a boat ride to meet a family of sea lions, while the other involves a mountain hike.

British Columbia is one of the early adopters among destinations of virtual reality technology to promote its brand to travelers, and introducing Oculus as a marketing tool is part of the destination’s rebranding effort. This fall, Marriott also launched an Oculus Rift experience, taking users to a beach in Hawaii and the top of a London skyscraper.

“As far as we have been able to tell, Destination British Columbia is the first destination in North America to use virtual reality and Oculus to promote a destination and one of the only in the world so far,” said Cecelia Kim, a spokesperson for the destination. “The only other example we have very recently seen was a story referencing that South Africa also had something in development.”

Facebook acquired Oculus in March for $2 billion in cash and company stock. Several electronics companies are set to release virtual reality headsets in 2015, including Oculus VR, Samsung, and Sony and they’re expected to be widely available to consumers by this spring.

The video that users watch using the Oculus headset will also become available on Destination British Columbia’s website next year, allowing them to have the virtual experience anywhere provided they have a headset.

The video of how the experience was created is below.


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Tags: british columbia, canada, marriott, oculus rift

Photo credit: A user trying out the Oculus Rift technology. Destination British Columbia

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