Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Travel's ultimate 'try before you buy'

Flight Centre will today launch its virtual reality experience with four destinations; Hoi An in Vietnam, Tokyo in Japan and Cairns and the Gold Coast in Australia.
Flight Centre will today launch its virtual reality experience with four destinations; Hoi An in Vietnam, Tokyo in Japan and Cairns and the Gold Coast in Australia.

Flight Centre has launched a virtual reality experience which gives customers the chance to immerse themselves in a destination before they travel.

NZ managing director, David Coombes, said the introduction of the new technology was exciting, as it allowed customers to take a digital step inside destinations around the globe, including ones they may never have considered.

The Samsung Gear VR virtual reality headsets create a 360 panoramic experience, that users can explore using head movements to change their viewing perspective.

Flight Centre will today launch its virtual reality experience with four destinations; Hoi An in Vietnam, Tokyo in Japan and Cairns and the Gold Coast in Australia, with more destinations in the pipeline.

Still and video footage is shot in 360 degrees, typically from a pole-mounted camera.

While travel is booming, traditional "bricks and mortar" travel agents such as Flight Centre are facing increased competition from online agents.

NZ managing director, David Coombes, said the introduction of this new technology allowed customers to take a digital step inside destinations around the globe, including ones they may never have considered.

However, it was not a substitute for actual travel to destinations offering unique sounds, smells, tastes and the opportunity to meet locals, he said.

The company would also look at filming inside cruise ships and planes to give customers a better idea of the products and facilities on board.

The virtual reality experience will be available in-store at Flight Centre Queen Street in Auckland from today.

Watch: Flight Centre's online version of the Cairns, Australia 360 video:

- NZ Herald

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