Imagine visiting a travel agent to book a dream destination, but you no longer see the beaches and hotels on pictures printed on glossy traditional brochures and write-ups.
David Kimani and his two colleagues at Vacay Holiday Deals are changing the way Kenyans explore and choose their next holiday destinations.
Vacay Holiday Deals, a travel agent, is using technology that immerses one inside the virtual world of top tourist destinations, giving them a near-surreal feel of how it feels like to walk on Thailand beaches or in Dubai shopping malls.
David, who studied information technology, says amid stiff competition from tours and travel companies, he can no longer rely on brochures to sell destinations.
“I had to come up with a unique way of selling holidays. So we ended up researching on how to use virtual reality to showcase some of the top destinations,” he says.
He joins the likes of travel operator Thomas Cook which has been trying out the headsets, offering customers the chance to “experience” a holiday before they buy it.
The device is connected to Samsung Galaxy S6 or any other Samsung phone with a higher operating system (OS). A client navigates through the home screen where he can choose from a host of videos in the gallery which brings to life different parts of the trip.
The videos are realistic and are available online where firms and individuals have made the free-to-use content.
David says this has saved his start-up company the huge cost of producing its own content mostly on foreign destinations which appeal to Kenyan travellers.
The Oculus kit locally goes for about Sh10,000 while the videos can also be accessed online through Facebook 360 and YouTube virtual reality.
So far, the company has made successful sales to a number of clients through the virtual reality concept that David adds is fast gaining traction in shopping malls.
“For virtual travelling, it is mostly men who are interested to experience a tour virtually. Men are more curious and come asking what it is. After they watch, wives or partners become curious,” David says.
He adds that although virtual reality is still at its infancy stages, they are looking into a possible partnerships with BlackRhino VR, which is one of the companies playing an important role in Kenya’s virtual reality industry.