How Virtual Reality Technologies Brings Irish Heritage Tourism To Life
Failte Ireland Takes the Initiative
Failte Ireland continue to amaze with their innovate marketing of Ireland as a tourist destination. In promoting the marketing genius that is “The Wild Atlantic Way”, they have made VR experiences available to allow potential visitors experience at first hand surfing under the Cliffs of Moher, sea stack climbing and horse riding across a beach.
“The world of tourism is becoming increasingly competitive. Using this new technology to bring almost life-like experiences to visitors as they research and book their holidays will ensure that Ireland can stand out in a crowded marketplace.” (Failte.ie)
The King of The Vikings, Waterford
Ireland’s many heritage sites can take a leaf out of Failte Ireland’s book. One innovative tourist attraction already taking the initiative is The King of The Vikings ,Waterford which opened in 2016. Here, they took an authentic Viking House in the ruins of a 13th century Franciscan Friary and made it into an immersive extraordinary experience. Instead of just looking at artefacts and reading about characters, like in the old-model museum experience, VR brings visitors on a journey which finds them “jumping out of the way” of the ghost of Reginald, King of the Vikings, as he spars with the ghost of a Christian monk. Visitors find themselves “diving under water”, some forgetting their fear of water. This meeting of history and technology excites the imagination and ensures a memorable experience. The King of The Vikings has identified its Unique Emotional Proposition (UEP) and uses it to connect with its visitors, ensuring returned visits and positive dialogue afterwards.
The numbers speak for themselves. An additional fee of €7 is charged on top of the ticket price for the VR experience. King of The Vikings VR experience is currently running at 90% capacity, 7 days a week. Each session holds ten 10 people and runs every 30 minutes during a 6 hours a day.
Having heard the success of The King of The Vikings, other heritage sites, like Wicklow Jail and Kildare Heritage, are now following suit. They recognise the added-value VR can bring to their existing offering, by allowing visitors see, hear and feel the history.
Enhancing the Visitors Experience
Ireland’s history is exhibited in our many museums. Dublin city alone is home to the most amazing of exhibits displaying our rich heritage in art, sport and architecture. Yet, the experience for the visitor can be a passive one, missing an ingredient to draw the visitor in, and immerse them in the story being told.
Similarly, visitor centres are a great tourist attraction all over the country, in whiskey distilleries and breweries, ancient castles and pre-historic monuments. In this age of “instant entertainment”, sometimes it is hard to conquer new audiences. Younger people especially are looking for more immersive extraordinary experiences. VR has the ability to entice those in search of the extraordinary, by adding a new exciting dimension to the current offering.
Ireland is also gifted with many magnificent Georgian manors, stately castles and historic hotels offering top class accommodation. These hotels are steeped in history; all with a story to tell. In a time when the world is enthralled by period dramas such as Downton Abbey and The Crown, imagine offering guests the opportunity to become fully immersed in the house or castle in its former glory, perhaps meet the Lord and Lady of the manor from another century, dance in one of the grand ball rooms. The possibilities are endless with VR technology. A stay in the hotel would become more than a “get-away” break, it would become an event, a memorable event that connects it guests emotionally to the destination for a long time to come.
VR technology allows a tourist destination bring its story to life. It takes the existing offering and enhances it to a level where the visitor gains an emotional, immersive unforgettable experience. Those innovative destinations already embracing VR technology have reaped the benefits. As new tourist destinations come on stream and old ones re-energise, offering that unique, extraordinary memorable experience will be the focus, and VR right now is the game-changer.
Contact us in Emagine and we will be delighted to talk you through this exciting creative.