How can Augmented Reality enhance travel?

Augmented reality (AR) has emerged in recent years as a vital marketing tool. It allows destinations to change the way people perceive the environment, and it allows richer decision-making tools for those planning where to go next. Medium last year reported a whopping 84% of consumers said they would be interested in using VR and AR for travel experiences.

While the UX will continue to evolve, Augmented Reality will be most valuable to hospitality and travel.

This week Gate 7 caught up with augmented reality artist Charles Clapshaw in Bondi to gain some insights into how big companies are currently using AR.

“For AR you have to think a little bit in the future, because some big changes are going to happen in terms of the technology we are walking around with in our pockets,” says Charles.

“In the future AR ‘portals’ will allow us to explore and share environments much more spatially. To virtually walk around in them and understand proximity, depth and height through them. We will be able to click on objects to buy the whole holiday from within an immersive AR environment and it will become much more cinematic and seamless than what we are seeing in the market today.”

AR is so useful to travel and hospitality businesses, precisely because airlines, hotels, museums and resorts are selling a physical environment to visitors. AR means that almost any environment you can think of, can be enhanced with an AR layering. AR will provide the portal that transports you to the deeper, 3d world, and this is scalable as it’s accessed through smart phones.

As he explains Augmented Reality can scale faster than virtual reality because it leaves behind the “nerd-ville” factor of wearing a headset.

“Every year Virtual Reality is missing its audience estimates because no one wants to be the person in the corner of the gallery with the headset on,” Charles says.

Instead he believes that AR will be embraced by the new generation of user who grew up playing Pokemon Go and are happy to don a pair of sunglasses to add AR’s benefits to their world.

“Rather than us just looking at a flat website on a screen you will be able to enter a 3D world and experience the beach or the forest you are about to visit.

“The largest relevancy to travel and tourism is that AR is going to be at one with communicating the benefits of more three dimensional offerings. They will seductive environments that you can’t resist entering,” Charles says.

On a very practical level, AR will enable us to travel better. Last year, Travelport worked with easyJet to build an AR app that helps travellers to work out if their carry-on bag will fit in the overhead cabins. At the airport too, by connecting AR with Google Maps, this technology will provide easy to follow digital signage.

“When you get off a plane in a strange airport in the middle of the night, the AR app will help you to find your gate with handy arrows pointing out how to get there,” Charles says.

The full extent of opportunities for the travel industry with AR is still up in the air, but it’s clear that it will have a use and impact on every stage of the travel cycle.