Virtual Inspiration
Business Traveler|October/November 2020
As the reality of the pandemic shutdown sets in, technology can take travelers on a different kind of journey
By Michael Alpiner

The time-tested truism, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” was never more apropos than in the midst of today’s coronavirus pandemic. Health measures have required people to show only half the reality of their faces, to keep a six foot perimeter of safety, and mostly to settle for a mere facsimile of real life, especially in terms of travel.

The pandemic crippled the travel industry, but also gave rise to a new form of adventure and exploration – virtual reality. The pandemic did not usher in VR technology. In fact, many companies and industry leaders were using virtual reality as soon as it became available and applicable to travel. For instance, Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas offers Sky Pad, a virtual reality bungee trampoline experience where guests can wear VR headsets and choose between three immersive games – Jump Rally, Sugar Leap and Bass Bouncer.

Royal Caribbean’s chairman and CEO Richard Fain, in an interview with the AListDaily, said, “Everyone having a phone or some type of connected device today allows the cruise experience to become integrated into the Internet of Things.” These words were made into reality during the marketing campaign of 2018 where the company recreated the on-ship experience at the immense Duggal Greenhouse at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Brooklyn, NY, to illustrate how new technology is changing the entire cruise experience.

The virtual experience/media event foreshadowed the world we know today. Ahead of its time, Royal Caribbean demonstrated how facial recognition and cell phone location monitoring helps get travelers safely on board and supervises them once the anchor is weighed. Though it would have ruined the fictional Titanic romance of Jack and Rose, the technology increases accountability and passenger safety. A yellow dot on the captain’s control panel represents each passenger, as long as he or she is armed with his or her cellphone.

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