Virtual Experiences for the End of Lockdown.

As the UK begins its journey out of lockdown, we take another look at some of the virtual experiences available to you.

From the best museums that Rome has to offer to virtual holiday park events to find your new summer home, we go through a few more virtual tours and experience before the world starts reopening once again.

Park Leisure launches virtual holiday park event.

If the idea of regular staycation holidays appeals to you more and more every day, then look no further. Park Leisure, one of the UK’s leading holiday park suppliers, is launching its first-ever virtual caravan and lodge show on 26th March until 5th April, amid the increasing demand for UK holiday homes.

This virtual event will showcase the parks luxury country and leisure retreat, Plas Coch, located on the stunning Isle of Anglesey. It is the first virtual caravan and lodge event hosted by a UK holiday park operator. Park Leisure, which owns 11 holiday home locations across the UK, hopes to roll out more virtual shows throughout 2021 to showcase its other locations, as a safe and hassle-free way of viewing holiday home parks.

“We are experiencing more enquires for UK holiday homes, partly due to Brexit and the new EU 90-day rule making it more complex for Brits looking abroad, so we’re proud to offer these events to support those thinking of buying a holiday home in North Wales. Those considering investing in a UK holiday home with us will be able to take advantage of some really competitive deals and have the whole of summer to make the most of it.”

Lisa Williams, director of marketing and holiday sales at Park Leisure.

To attend the Plas Coch virtual caravan and lodge show, visit the website for free access between 26th March and 5th April 2021.

Virtualtrips and worldwide AR live streams.

Virtualtrips is one of the virtual travel experience sites that launched last June. The site now has more than 130 people tuning in to its virtual tours on average, with guides operating in more than 200 locations around the world and around 40 different free tours happening every day. These tours are available for people to tune in over their desktop to a live-stream where they can ask questions as their guide takes them around various cities.

“You almost get teleported to someone else’s world. You get to walk with the guides and learn from them, experience what they see… We did have a blizzard the other week in London, and we’ve had someone in Venice when it was flooded, walking around in the water.”

John Tertan, Virtualtrips co-founder.

Visit the Virtualtrips website now to see the full selection of live tours 

Rome most famous museums can now be visited from anywhere in the world, with new augmented reality tours.

Even though Rome’s museums continue to stay closed, guests can take a full-screen virtual tour of eight iconic museums. Thanks to 360-degree photographs, videos, audio, informative text, smart maps, overhead perspectives and tips about collection highlights.

The interactive tours are available at:

  • The Capitoline Museums
  • Ara Pacis
  • Napoleonic Museum
  • Trajan’s Markets – Museum of the Imperial Fora
  • Casino Nobile at Villa Torlonia
  • Centrale Montemartini
  • Museo di Roma
  • The Museo delle Mura.

The project was created by Skylab Studios and has support from the city and the capital’s superintendence for cultural heritage. 

Experts used drones to give the user up-close access to the museums’ masterpieces and ancient treasures. The virtual tours are available on any device from tablets to smartphones. For full details see Musei in Comune website.

Why virtual experiences are here to stay.

With this rise of virtual experiences at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s easy to think this is a brand new and innovative way that companies are showcasing their product. But that’s not the case. 

A lot of VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) technology has been used in travel marketing for the past few years. 

This technology has provided a welcome antidote for people looking to satisfy their wanderlust in lockdown, but has been used and will be used in the future as a companion to our regular travel experience.

It’s been over 6 months since Amazon Explore launched (in the US), but Amazon says the product was in development pre-pandemic, as a way for travellers to engage in all aspects of a destination and its culture, from the comfort of their own home. Amazon Explore offers over 250 experiences starting at $10 from 20 geographic locations and in seven categories. Ranging from culture and landmarks to food and drink, wellness and beauty, nature and outdoors, and personal shopping. Partners or Amazon Explore include individual hosts like Ken Sakata of Ken’s Tours Tokyo and larger suppliers like Intrepid Group’s Intrepid Urban Adventures.

The Amsterdam-based company Tiqets took a different approach when offering online experiences. But the company still states that these options will exist even when the pandemic is no longer affecting our travel plans. 

Tiqets worked with some of its venue partners to create one-time virtual experiences that brought guests inside the museums and attractions, influenced by specific themes such as Halloween or Valentine’s Day. More than 55 venues and 21,000 people participated in the events, which were all offered for free. 

The goal was to inspire people to revisit the places on offer once they could travel again.

Rather than trying to replicate an in-person visit to these museums and attractions, Tiqets says the virtual experiences are focused on providing a unique and compelling experience. The Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) in New York gave audiences a sneak-peak into an exhibition that wasn’t open to the public.

We’re not trying to replace the in-destination, person-to-person experience at all, and we are not looking to monetize them either. This is a way for us to make sure consumers can engage with venues pre-travel and potentially post-travel, but not a strict replacement.”

Daniel Hackett, Regional Director for the Americas.

A spokesperson from Tiqets states that they expect virtual experiences to remain an option they offer to their venue partners. The company is exploring how to use things like Facebook Live and Instagram Live to market the events, but it has no plans to turn them into sources of revenue.

Even though we are all counting the days until we can get on a plane or train and visit these places in person, clicking from one virtual tour to the next. This will not be the end of virtual tours.

The technology available in providing us with travel experiences is expecting to stay even after the pandemic has finished. With customers using it as a way to test out a destination before travelling or just to get away from reality for a few hours.

Ashleigh Ridler

23/03/2021