DestinationCore | Virtually enhancing real destinations

Virtually enhancing real destinations

How VR and AR can help attract and engage higher visitor numbers

While virtual reality (VR) is often used as an initial marketing tool to attract people to visit a destination (think virtual tours of holiday resorts or 360º videos of landmark cities), VR in itself can be an effective and impactful tourist attraction – enhancing a location with a unique and engaging form of entertainment, ranging from VR arcades to cultural trails and heritage experiences. In this article, we take a look at how using immersive technology such as VR and AR can help enhance real destinations to make them more attractive to both local visitors and tourists.

A virtual window into the real world

But it’s not just VR that can offer new perspectives on a location or heritage site. Augmented reality (AR) apps are also proving their worth in the destination sector, creating a location-based experience that users can access through their smartphone. This type of technology, which can be triggered by a physical marker or even a geo-tag, is ideal for trails around a location – encouraging users on a journey of exploration that gets them moving across a particular area, whether that’s a single building or a whole city.

It works by overlaying virtual objects in a real world environment, which users can view and interact with through their smartphone or tablet. The mix of virtual elements with the physical world allows users to view a location as it is today compared with what it once was or what it will be in future – and building these types of AR experiences into a treasure-hunt-style trail provides a great day out for local visitors, tourists and family groups that’s easily accessible through a smartphone. We’ve worked with several town councils to create AR trails as a tourist attraction, with the most recent launching at the Ness in Lowestoft in November 2020.

Levelling up location-based entertainment

AR has also proved itself an excellent platform for location-based games, with the most famous example being Pokemon Go. In fact, the entertainment potential of immersive technology is considerable for destinations looking to pull in higher visitor numbers, slotting seamlessly alongside popular location-based entertainment venues such as escape rooms, bowling alleys, cinemas and arcades.

While the coronavirus pandemic has temporarily pressed pause on many out-of-home entertainment options, with the development of effective vaccines and the cautious optimism that social distancing will be easing by spring 2021, VR entertainment venues could present an attractive option to get people coming back into town centres. After all, in 2019 spending on VR games, entertainment and other experiences at dedicated location-based entertainment facilities reached $1.5 billion. In the upcoming years, we could well see new VR venues opening which offer affordable and accessible multiplayer experiences for groups of people. These can also be cost-effective for the venue-operator as VR venues do not need masses of space and, after initial investment in the hardware, experiences can be regularly updated – attracting repeat custom.

The future is virtual

Immersive technology continues to evolve and develop at high speed and organisations such as councils, museums and more are already adopting AR and VR experiences as a way to enhance a destination. AR offers engaging and practical means to add an extra layer of interest, education and activity to a destination that can be easily accessed through the smartphones most people have in their pockets. VR offers an even more immersive experience and, what’s more, not everyone has access to it at home – giving dedicated VR venues an extra appeal. With the return of normality just around the corner, using immersive technology to enhance a location will be a clever, impactful and cost-effective way to welcome visitors and tourists back to a destination.

View some case studies

Epsom BID

Epsom BID

Epsom is an historic market town nestled between London and The Surrey Hills. Epsom is more than just home to The Derby. It’s famous for Epsom Salts and has an abundance of history and heritage. The challenge was to showcase everything that Epsom has to offer without blowing the budget - enter DC One!

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Uxbridge BID

Uxbridge BID

The team at Uxbridge BID wanted to upgrade their website in order to offer greater value to their levy payers. DC One was the ideal solution to meet their needs as the automation offered through the combination of Business Login and Automated Subscriber Emails gave them incredible value on a tight budget.

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Midsummer Place

Midsummer Place

With the shopping centre having moved away from the ownership of the intu Group the client was looking for outstanding value for money and lots of built-in automation in order to stretch marketing budget as far as possible. They love the simplicity of DC One, with the structure making it easy for users to find what they are looking for.

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Merry Hill Centre

Merry Hill Centre

With the break-up of the intu Group, the client was looking for a website they could get up-and-running in a short space of time and as a temporary solution, so they had a web presence to give them time to build out the website of their dreams. DC One was the perfect solution – offering all the functionality they needed with a quick turnaround.

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NewcastleGateshead

NewcastleGateshead

The NewcastleGateshead Initiative is the DMO representing Newcastle, Gateshead and the surrounding areas. They came to us frustrated with their existing website solution – feeling that their current provider was offering poor value for money. Our solution has helped transform their online presence by improving the user experience and offering greater value for their members.

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Visit Southampton

Visit Southampton

Southampton BID had just gone through a brand refresh and were looking to help bring that brand to life with a powerful online experience. They wanted visitsouthampton.co.uk to be the go-to website for users to find out about what to do and what's on in Southampton. They chose the Pro core package and The List Events Feed module to power their website.

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All About Ipswich

All About Ipswich

All About Ipswich is a DMO for Ipswich and the surrounding area. The website showcases events and offers, and also includes a business directory. It provides easy access to a huge range of content, with the Journey Planner and Itinerary Builder modules enriching the user experience. The Campaign Section module provides a hub for the client's numerous marketing initiatives.

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Visit Clapham Junction

Visit Clapham Junction

As a BID in their first term The Junction BID needed to make an impact. Attracting visitors to Clapham Junction by showcasing what’s on offer and demonstrating value to the businesses they represent was essential. They chose the Offers and Events progressive web app alongside the Pro core package to encourage people who work within the BID area to spend more time at The Junction.

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In Colchester

In Colchester

In Colchester is the consumer website for the Colchester BID. We helped them create a new consumer facing brand, and then applied that brand to the DestinationCore platform to create a stunning looking website. Launched in August 2019 the feedback for this site has been superb.

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Visit Melchester

Visit Melchester

We’ve created a demo site for our fantasy town of Melchester. It’s an idyllic location by the sea, with an abundance of independent retailers and fair number of local characters too. Be sure to check out the blog about a true local hero - Admiral Standfast. Go on. Take a trip to Melchester!

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