Thomas Cook to offer virtual reality holidays in store

Thomas Cook is to introduce Oculus Rift headsets into its shops to enable holidaymakers to try holidays before they buy.

The travel firm trialled the virtual reality technology at its concept store in the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent back in August. Following an initial pilot there, Thomas Cook has produced a range of virtual reality-ready content to give customers the opportunity to look around a resort before they book their next holiday.

Customers will get a 3D, 360-degree vision of the experiences on offer by the holiday company. The headset combined with a newly developed application will translate head and motion movements across to the virtual world as customers explore the resort.

Among the destinations for offer through the Oculus Rift headsets are a helicopter tour of Manhattan, a trip to the pool at a Sentido resort in Rhodes or a visit to the restaurant in a SunConnect resort in Cyprus.

The virtual reality tours will be available at the Thomas Cook branch in Bluewater as well as two further shops in the UK, three stores in Germany and four in Belgium.

Virtual reality technologies are set to play a key role in how the companies showcase products to their customers, according to Marco Ryan, newly appointed chief innovation officer at Thomas Cook.

"Our use of VR is set to further enhance the in-store shopping experience for Thomas Cook customers, allowing them to make informed decisions regarding their next holiday using innovative technology that effectively lets them try before they buy," he said.

The idea for putting virtual reality into Thomas Cook's branches was devised by the firm's Digital Advisory Board in March last year.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.