Expedia is experimenting with using virtual reality in its online search as it anticipates a rise in the use of the technology in travel.
Gary Morrison, senior vice president and head of global retail revealed the ongoing work at Expedia’s press day at its London office in Angel.
He said teams were “playing about” with ways to make it work but said he sees virtual reality playing a “big role in the future” of travel marketing.
“We have two dedicated engineers looking at the technology of virtual reality and how we can integrate that into search online.”
Expedia has already launched 360 degree photos as part of its destination marketing campaign with Tourism Australia.
Morrison puts VR up there with the three main things shaping the future of travel, alongside the prevalence of the internet in emerging markets and increase processing power.
He sees projects like Facebook’s internet.org and Google’s Project Loon that aim to bring the internet to developing countries as driving new online travel consumers.
Morrison added that a partner at Air Asia told him 60% of seats on the airline were sold to people who had never flown before.
“That’s a striking statistic,” he added. “As we see new markets open up by internet access we think it will change the dynamics of the market.
Faster processing, such as the new IBM chip due out next year, will allow data-driven firms such as Expedia to give customers “real-time” personalised searches – rather than relying on cached data.
Morrison also added that he anticipated continued growth in the sharing economy, and said Expedia’s acquisition of Home and Away was their response to Airbnb’s market leading offering.