- Dutch airline KLM is giving online users a chance to experience faraway places without leaving home by immersing them in computer-generated virtual reality (VR). The carrier's iFly KLM Magazine online platform has 360-degree videos that showcase several destinations for travelers to virtually visit, according to a press release shared with Mobile Marketer.
- Celebrity chef Kiran Jethwa, star of National Geographic's "The Fearless Chef" and U.K. television station Channel 4's "Extreme Foods," provides a guided tour of the destinations in three video episodes. Viewers can see the 360-degree videos with a smartphone, tablet or VR headset.
- The first episode shows Jethwa visiting a Thai jungle in search of the world's best coffee. He takes viewers through the production process from cultivating beans to brewing a steaming cup of coffee. The second episode will show a trip to Hawaii.
KLM's VR video series is another way to engage mobile viewers and inspire them to book travel experiences. Consumers are generally familiar with travel shows hosted by celebrity chefs, such as the late Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown" series that highlighted culinary experiences in foreign countries. Travel content is especially popular among younger adults who have the disposable income to spend on sightseeing and who enjoy sharing photos and videos of their experiences on social media.
KLM has previously experimented with VR technology in its marketing, including a study of providing travelers with VR headsets aboard planes. The idea is to help people escape the confines of a stuffy airplane cabin by virtually transporting them to an expansive computer-generated environment. KLM has tested VR as part of its Immersive Cabin Project (IMCA), according to a blog post.
Along with KLM, Cathay Pacific and Virgin Atlantic have showcased their planes' interiors with immersive experiences such as 360-degree videos that show what it's like to fly with them before customers book a ticket. Emirates, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, in July introduced 3D cabin models on its website to help travelers experience a VR tour of its Airbus A380 aircraft.
Airlines aren't the only category in the travel industry that use VR technology to connect with potential customers. Online travel agency Kayak in June released Kayak VR, an app for Google's Daydream headset to let travelers virtually visit a location before booking. The company in September introduced also an AR-powered tool to help travelers measure their luggage to see if it could fit in a plane's overhead bin.