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How Can Virtual Reality Bridge Online-To-Offline Marketing?

Don't expect much in the retail arena, but as Wyndham Hotels and Isobar have shown, Virtual Reality is perfect for taking consumers to vacation destinations.

The use of virtual reality in retail settings seems to be a non-starter for most brands, as a Forrester Research overview shows, the idea of bringing whatever a marketer is selling to a consumer in 3D can have immediate results  — within certain circumscribed areas.

For the most, part, as the title of Forrester’s report, Virtual Reality Isn’t Ready For Marketing Yet, indicates, there are some caveats that will continue to linger: for one thing, despite the efforts of companies like Facebook and Google to make VR more mainstream this past year, some 42 percent of U.S. online adults in 2016 said they had never heard about VR headsets.

The report suggests that 2020 may be a “prime time” for the mainstream marketing of VR. But it does offer some illustrations of how brands are successfully using it now.

Wyndham’s work with Dentsu agency Isobar on a VR marketing program last spring offers a fine example of the way forward. Using VR as a virtual showroom is something that can apply to brands across the board. But for hospitality marketers, bringing a vacation destination to life in a way like no other.

As Forrester notes, brands that have a particularly complex path-to-purchase makes clear sense for a VR investment. Again, even with the low level of awareness of VR products by the general public, the affluent consumers who can be attracted by travel packages could deliver the right level of ROI.

For Wyndham,  Isobar was charged with creating fully immersive and responsive VR experiences highlighting key holiday destinations to support the sales of vacation club memberships at in-person sales events.

“We wanted the selling process to be short and experiential, to put people in a vacation mindset,” says Terri Dost, senior vice president, product development at Wyndham Vacation ownership, in the Forrester report. “There is no better way to show [prospects] the experience we can provide than to take them there.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.