A family trip to Europa Park in Southern Germany led to an interesting discovery for me.
How can new technology, in this case Virtual Reality (VR), be blended with the real world to enhance the consumer experience?
Europa Park is a family owned amusement park, themed around European countries with rides and attractions for all ages and thrill seekers. It is also the “No 1” activity park in Europe according to Trip Advisor and is one of the largest too.
Europa Park has introduced Oculus Rift VR headsets on two of its roller coasters to offer consumers a 360° VR experience while riding the coaster. Branding this tech “Coastiality” (Coaster + virtual reality), the consumer quickly understands they are getting the real world ride PLUS the VR experience.
I should say at this point it is indeed an excellent experience; as the real roller coaster brings you towards weightlessness at its peaks, the VR appears to take you off into nothing whilst only just avoiding countless obstacles being thrown at you – effects impossible in the real world due to quite reasonable safety requirements! It certainly enhances an otherwise relatively tame ride!
So why is this worth commenting on? There are 2 reasons:
Firstly this is a wonderful way of adding real consumer value to older less exhilarating rides and by adding the 2 € surcharge generates an additional revenue stream for the park. (I should say here that the payment transaction, headset handling and cleaning between riders resulted in 3 additional staff being needed on each ride – so the tech is requiring more manpower).
Secondly, Europa Park’s owners, the Mack family, have cleverly created an additional business model. By developing the software program and graphics and storylines in-house they have created a replicability that they can sell on to other theme parks around the world. Furthermore, by branding it Coastiality it is not specific to Europa Park, but will help consumers in other parks identify a quality experience worth paying a little more for.
It’s great to see a family business taking innovation forward and pushing the boundaries; the German companies, Mack Media, and it’s sister company VR Coaster are rolling, (sorry!), Coastiality out across the world starting with the USA, Canada, Belgium, Finland and Japan. Developments are already in the pipeline for in-ride gaming features and for new purpose built actual rides to maximise the effects of the VR capabilities.
Only our imagination might limit the possibilities. TIME reports that Goldman Sachs expects revenue from VR to hit $95 billion in 2025. As marketing professionals how do we think VR can offer us business opportunities or solve existing challenges?
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