Virtual reality (VR) is no longer a wonder of the future as travel brands in multiple sectors demonstrated during 2015 that VR can do more than bring the wow factor to armchair travelers.

They’ve also shown that the technology’s business opportunities provide a more immediate return on investment as brands wait for VR headsets to become more widely available, and affordable, to most travelers.

In October, Shangri-La Hotels was the first international hospitality brand to roll out Samsung Gear VR headsets for each of its 17 global sales offices and 94 individual hotel sales teams. Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater was in the same school of thought when it bought its own VR equipment to produce all such videos in-house, with the goal of using them to promote the destination’s meetings and convention venues as well as its array of offerings for leisure travelers.

And VR isn’t limited to the ground — Qantas was one of the first carriers to dabble in VR when it introduced its Samsung Gear VR headsets in March. The headsets feature popular entertainment content and tours which “showcase the delights” of the airline’s network destinations.

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Photo Credit: Marriott's VR kit. Marriott International