NEW YORK — Virtuoso, the international network of luxury travel agencies, has chosen Xplr VR, Travelweek’s virtual reality platform that launched nationwide in Canada last fall, as one of the emerging travel technology companies participating in its innovative Virtuoso Incubator program for 2017.
The program aims to foster new technology and provide efficiencies that will ultimately help its travel agency members maintain a competitive edge. Hundreds of companies within the rapidly growing travel technology sector applied for the program. Only three, including Xplr VR, were selected for early admission.
“We selected Xplr VR for Virtuoso Incubator because its solution aligns with our goal of fostering emerging technologies that are focused on increasing efficiency and enhancing client service for travel advisors,” said David Kolner, senior vice president, Global Member Partnerships at Virtuoso. “From the outset, Xplr VR has curated its content and platform so that advisors can convert quality leads and offer an experience to travellers like never before. Virtuoso wanted to offer our members a chance to pilot this kind of technology, giving them the opportunity to be among the earliest adopters of virtual reality in the industry.”
Xplr VR is the world’s only virtual reality app designed specifically for travel agents. It has curated a collection of virtual reality experiences based on what travel agents sell most, so that they can use the technology to showcase destinations and travel products to their clients in a fun and interactive way. The app is free for agents, with only a nominal investment required for an affordable headset.
The app’s admission into the Virtuoso Incubator program demonstrates the mass-market interest in cutting-edge VR technology, and how it applies to the travel industry specifically. Since its launch, travel agents have been eager to embrace the new technology, which they say gives them a competitive edge over online OTA’s when engaging with clients.
“The future of travel industry marketing is with virtual reality,” Kolner said. “The sensory experience of virtual reality can make the travel discovery process immersive, productive and fun. Xplr VR is bringing visual marketing to the eyes of prospective travellers and then placing the traveler in the hands of expert Virtuoso advisors. It is this perfect union of human connection and technology that we wanted to pilot with our travel advisor members.”
Through its Incubator program, Virtuoso is leading the charge in improving the customer experience by attracting technology solutions to the travel industry. Participating companies benefit from the guidance of the Virtuoso travel consultant-based Advisory Panel, which tests the product, provides real-world feedback and allows the company to continue iterating its product to better meet the needs of travel agencies, advisors and clients.
On being selected for the program, Devin Kinasz, President of Xplr VR and Director of Digital Strategy at Travelweek, said: “We are excited Virtuoso is so supportive of this great new technology for travel agents and look forward to engaging with their agents and suppliers, who will undoubtedly have valuable insight. We see great potential for virtual reality in the luxury market, which has some fabulous, out-of-this-world products that consumers will definitely want to see in virtual reality, as well as reality.”