Gordon Morrison

By Gordon Morrison, CEO, Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions and Lesley Judge, Tourism Sector Engagement Executive, Interface

Ongoing developments in immersive technologies, such as virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence offer new and creative opportunities for the travel and tourism sector, lending themselves well to the experiential nature of visitor attractions and tours.

Using immersive technologies are also frequently becoming a new and creative way for attractions, including galleries and museums, to let visitors pick up and touch historic objects, step onto battlefields, fly over landscapes, and drop right into the heart of fascinating stories. This might mean taking part in virtual historical battles, using virtual time binoculars to experience medieval streetscapes, visiting digital museums from your armchair or going on virtual treasure hunts. VR, AR and AI offer huge potential to entice visitors on a journey, with the possibility to deepen visitor engagement and even attract new audiences. In this Scottish Tourism Month 2019, with much of the focus on future-proofing the industry beyond 2020, engaging visitors in new ways are firmly on the agenda.

Motivations

The 2018 Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA) Biennial Membership Survey identified interest in support and guidance on the use of Virtual Reality (VR) in Visitor Attractions. ASVA decided to explore what support it could provide in this field as it was recognised as something with the potential to transform visitor experiences, offering attractions an opportunity to present visitors with an almost endless array of stories within the confines of their sites. Through our strong relationship with partners at Interface, together we put together an engaging half day workshop, where attractions professionals could get hands-on with VR equipment, put questions to Dr. Alan Miller and the Smart History team at University of St. Andrews and learn more about a collaborative Interface project from Amy Woolvin, Community Heritage Officer, the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Landscape Partnership. Group work allowed delegates to explore the pros and cons of using VR, identify assets, audiences and stories, as well as sharing their own experiences of using this technology to date. This ticked all the boxes we were looking for in terms of networking, best practice sharing and information about innovation within the attractions sector.

Workshop Outputs and Feedback

Feedback from the workshop was overwhelmingly positive, with the workshop content meeting the expectations of all those who attended. Delegates highlighted that the workshop was great for stimulating ideas about how VR could be used in attractions, and the honesty of the discussions were appreciated, with both the pros and cons of using VR fully explored on the day. Delegates also highlighted the benefits of being able to sample VR equipment and the opportunities to discuss the topic with a wide selection of their peers.

Where to next

The workshop with Interface was a great success and proved hugely popular with the delegates who attended. ASVA and Interface are confident that this will be just the first of many collaborations between our organisations, with further opportunities to host similar workshops in locations around Scotland, not just exploring VR, but also looking at topics such as Augmented Reality, Data-Driven Innovation and the viability of using other technologies in visitor attractions.

Please see the insights and presentations from the workshop below:

To find out more about how Interface can support collaborative projects in the tourism sector email Lesley Judge: lesley.judge@interface-online.org.uk

20 March 2019