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Armchair travel

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Trip planning is tough. People try to make the most of their budget by planning everything they can in advance. But even the best planners run the risk of arriving at their hotel, carefully chosen because of the reasonable rates, good Yelp reviews and nice pool photo, only to find a grizzled Captain Obvious in their room, pointing at the severed finger on the bed.

Verb Interactive, a Halifax-based marketing company specializing in travel, has been trying to make that leap of faith a little easier, and by George, it looks like they’ve done it. At a New York Travel Massive meet-up in April, they showcased Azamara 3DI, a video experience created for client Azamara Club Cruises that uses Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that immerses wearers in an entirely new environment.

“This is something we can show travel agents,” says Verb founder Andy MacLellan.  “Often, they’re young people who have never cruised, but are trying to sell your experience. Now, when they ask, ‘Well, what is this cruise?’, we can respond with ‘Let us take you there.’”

Azamara 3DI is a 360-degree video that shows off the Azamara cruise experience—from standing in the buffet line, to flying through the jungle on a zipline. Viewers can even check out the rooms. With this launch, Verb Interactive became the first to use Oculus Rift to promote the cruise industry.

“In cruise, no one has developed the footage or the immersive experience we have,” says Joel Kelly, director of content marketing at Verb. “It’s crazy, because the technology has been around for a couple years now, but no one else has put the pieces together between cruising
and VR.”

Although you’ll have to make an appointment at Verb or wait for a trade show to try out the Oculus Rift experience, anyone can check it out online at www.azamara3di.com. It works on a desktop or with the iOS Player app, and if you happen to have Google Cardboard, an inexpensive virtual reality viewer, you can experience the next best thing to Oculus Rift.

“It’s amazing working with the travel industry,” says Kelly. “Our clients are passionate and have competitors biting at their heels, so they see the value of investing in new and innovative ideas.” 

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