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Business and Management.
Although the potential of virtual reality (VR) as a technology in tourism has been recognised for more than twenty years, (Horan, 1996; Williams and Hobson, 1995), we have witnessed a renewed interest in both academic and business circles recently (Jung, tom Dieck, Lee, & Chung, 2016). From a marketing perspective, VR offers the potential to build a sensory experience of a tourism destination or attraction, and can be used in sales contexts to complement, or indeed, supplant traditional promotional tools such as brochures. The immersive nature of the experience offers a deeper and more emotional assessment of the tourist offering from the consumer’s perspective, and an opportunity to build imagery and influence the consumer decision-making process from the marketing communicator’s viewpoint.
Research was conducted into consumers’ attitudes and experiences of 360-degree VR videos, which have been developed by Fáilte Ireland (Ireland’s domestic marketing and product development agency) to showcase a number of activities along the Wild Atlantic Way. Using a quantitative research approach constructed along the dimensions of the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) (Davis, 1989), 129 surveys were carried out at two consumer travel shows.
Respondents’ VR experience was rated positively across all demographic cohorts and against the selected dimensions of the TAM model. Using VR to promote the Wild Atlantic Way was found to greatly increase the likelihood of visiting the destination itself in the future. This offers very encouraging prospects for destination marketers. This research contributes to a deeper understanding of how VR can aid in destination marketing and promotion, and potential limitations to its wider deployment.
Gibson, A. & O'Rawe, M. (2017) 'Virtual Reality as a promotional tool: insights from a consumer travel fair', in Jung T. and tom Dieck, M.C. (eds.) Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality - Empowering Human, Place and Business, London: Springer, pp. 93-107.