Carnival Corporation hopes that a virtual reality version of a cruise will be enough to make newcomers try the real thing.
With the new-to-cruise market in mind, Carnival Corp. is the latest travel company to turn to virtual reality in an effort to drum up business.
The world’s largest cruise company on Friday rolled out a campaign in partnership with AT&T and Samsung that will place content (along with displays and a corresponding sweepstakes) in 133 stores around the country. The initiative will last about three weeks.
Carnival created a two-minute film showcasing three ships, shore excursions, restaurants, entertainment and sunset views from a balcony. The content will be viewable through a headset in the stores 133 locations offering an “in-store experience” and another 1,100 that will only have headsets available.
“The entire point of the film is to immerse people in what the modern cruise experience is like and show differences between ships,” said Ken Jones, vice president of group marketing for Carnival Corp.
Carnival has used virtual reality in limited ways before: during a launch event for the upcoming Carnival Vista and during an event at the New York Stock Exchange.
Jones said the company started talking to AT&T about the idea roughly a year ago.
“One of the things we’ve been working on is trying to increase consideration for a cruise,” he said. “For people who have never been on a cruise, it’s very difficult to imagine what it’s like to be on a ship.”
The company is also offering cruise-like experiences on Feb. 27 at AT&T’s flagship store in Chicago with mocktails, hand massages, a photo booth, and DJ. A virtual reality lounge will recreate the feeling of a cruise ship deck with lounge chairs, heat and ocean breezes.
A traveling ship deck scene will also traverse Chicago streets on a glass-bodied truck between Sunday and Feb. 27.
“Obviously we chose to launch in Chicago in the winter,” Jones said from a cab after landing in the city. “That’s purposeful. We want people to remember there’s a whole world out there.”
Cruise lines are not alone in trying to make outsiders feel like part of their world through virtual reality. Theme parks, Broadway shows, beach towns, and luxury hotels have all experimented with the technology.
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Photo credit: A view of the SeaWalk on Regal Princess as seen in Carnival Corporation's new virtual reality film. Carnival Corporation