Phocuswright Europe organized by Phocuswright’s President Simon Lehmann and Phocuswright’s Events Manager Kimberly Campetti, is a major international event related to tourism, gathering the biggest companies in the tourism industry, and consists of keynote addresses, round tables, one-on-one interviews, peer talk backs and special presentations. It has existed for two decades and this year took place at Beurs van Berlage, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, 16 – 18 May, 2017.

WVRF is connected to Phocuswright Europe thanks to the EMTS (European Mountain Travel Summit) where we participated. At Phocuswright Europe, Salar Shahna, WVRF’s CEO joined the panel on new technologies for tourism with two other speakers and a moderator. One of the speakers was Head of Facebook Travel, which is based in Dubai. Shahna discussed how VR can help tourism in different ways and not only with VR pictures and videos, with witch one can sell the destination before anyone visits it by showing it on the VR headset. He also discussed how thanks to the future of VR and social networks in VR, one can have two operators or travel agents having relationships with consumers in VR, so it is possible to have a sales agent in front of you in VR and he can present to you while you are together in the VR space.

Shahna was the only panelist from the group who spoke about VR. Specifically it was about how new technologies can help tourism and Shahna’s role was to prove what VR can do, going beyond its traditional purpose, which is just having 360° pictures or 360° videos. Shahna shared how you can go beyond by creating storytelling for a destination with high end VR around your destination. In his speech, Shahna shared how social VR can be a strong tool for travel agents or tour operators since the whole relationship between consumer and travel agent can change thanks to VR.

In the virtual world, you can be together with the travel agent and he can show you where you want to go while you are with him in this virtual space,” said Shahna.

According to Shahna, Facebook Spaces – the new social network from Facebook in VR can be an amazing tool the same way Facebook Messenger is becoming a  great tool for professionals. Specifically, Shahna’s talk centered on how Facebook Spaces could become in a great tool for travel agents in the future.

It’s always interesting for us to participate in this type of events as tourism is not where we mainly put our focus of work. Phocuswright is the second tourism event that we’ve done, the first one was the European Mountain Travel Summit. Both events prove how relevant it is for us to be in those events as tourism is where VR/AR have a lot of potential and being there representing VR was great,” concluded Shahna.