The airline launched these new interiors on its Erik Viking aircraft with its first flight to New York this past Feburary. The tour, hosted on the airline’s website, is a rotating full 360-degree Google Street View inside the aircraft, which allows visitors to move freely about the cabin with a click. On-line passengers can tour the cabin from a standing and a seated perspective. The tour is rich and responsive, and gives visitors a nose-to-tail view of the aircraft as the next-best thing to being onboard an empty plane.
While enjoying the high-resolution images of the aircraft interiors, visitors onboard the airline’s virtual aircraft will find links to more information on the cabin products shown, relevant videos from the airline’s YouTube channel, and an invitation to book a flight right from the map.
While we’ve seen innovative virtual reality tours already in aviation–Virgin Atlantic’s unique Dreamliner virtual tour and Virgin Australia’s Sydney lounge tour–SAS has stepped up the competition by providing interactive access to more information and a multi-media experience. The SAS virtual tour can even be shared with friends on Social Media, as an enticement to get the word out about the SAS passenger experience and encourage friends to book a group holiday.
The completeness of SAS’ virtual cabin tour (including toilets) gives passengers a better view ahead to the onboard experience than they would have by merely crunching numbers on seat pitch and seat width and trying to relate to those figures instead of to the full design features of the cabin.
Visitors to SAS new Google Street View map get a true-to-life view of the aircraft by far better than the traditional aviation seat map–or LOPA (Location of Passenger Accommodations) as AvPros call it– included in reservations systems for seat selection–though SAS has embedded the LOPA in its interactive Google Street View map to keep traditionalists happy.
“Our new upgraded long-haul cabin has attracted a great deal of attention for its design and functionality from both customers and the media. It was a huge investment and we wanted to show it to our customers who may not yet have had the chance to fly on it,” explains Stefan Hedelius, VP Brand & Marketing at SAS. “We wanted new ways of demonstrating our products to customers. Something connected to our overall marketing strategy.”
The airline also converted this new Google Street View tour into a content marketing opportunity by incorporating it into its Scandinavian Traveller magazine, which, Hedelius tells us, is Scandinavia’s most widely read life-style magazine.
While he won’t reveal numbers, Hedelius tells us the investment required to film the cabin was not exhorbitant. Trusted Google authorized agents were responsible to film the cabin between flights. “The most difficult thing was coordinating the time on the ground,” says Hedelius. “That was a challenge.”
Adding the direct bookings feature is also aligned with the airline’s progressive marketing strategy. “We’re testing out new ways of testing out our booking engine integration,” Hedelius says. “We have a similar feature on Scandinavian Traveller where visitors can book a trip to a destination they read about straight from the site.” The airline aims to take the idea of booking a trip beyond the restrictions of its main website page. While, for now, the bookings engine integration with the tour works in one direction, from the tour to booking, Hedelius says that a reverse integration allowing passengers to visit the tour from the main bookings site as they make their final decision would also be considered in future.
“We are constantly striving to create new and innovative digital solutions for our customers, so we are very proud that SAS is the first airline in Europe to let everyone see what it is like to travel with SAS using Google Street View,” he says, adding that we should expect to see more of this type of digital platform integration from SAS soon.