Marketing / Eye in the sky: how Norwegian Air uses virtual reality as a marketing tool

Eye in the sky: how Norwegian Air uses virtual reality as a marketing tool

CHRISTMAS SHOPPERS at Westfield Stratford City were transported to New York, Los Angeles and Miami on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner using 5D virtual reality (VR) headsets.

VR is marketing gold dust for the travel sector, because it provides consumers with immersive and inspirational experiences. Marketers have realised that glossy photos on a website or in a brochure only go so far when it comes to promoting destinations.

Low-cost airline Norwegian teamed up with Boeing to take 4,286 shoppers on the virtual transatlantic trip.  It wanted something different to increase its brand awareness in the UK as the business expanded.

Norwegian asked VR production studio Visualise to produce a 360-degree video, which was launched via a “Cabin Crew” controlled tablet app. Users were transported into the Dreamliner cabin and experienced the level of service provided by the crew and the aircraft’s different features.

VR works particularly well in the travel sector because the technology stimulates the senses. 5D provides additional layers of sensory stimulation that are synched with traditional visual and audio. It could be the smell of sun lotion or food, for instance.

VP of marketing Stine Steffensen Børke says travel is all about escapism and transporting people to new places where they can reflect, indulge and have exciting adventures. “We wanted to do something experiential using technology,” she says. “This was the first time we had used VR. It was perfect for showcasing parts of our offer that are difficult to demonstrate in other forms of marketing. We could show off our customer service and the inside of our new planes, for instance.”

Participants were surveyed after their experience and many shared photographs on social media. “We made a film of the event and we can use the content as a sales tool at airports. We plan to repeat the VR experience in Europe – [we’ll be] in Paris soon.”

Marketers hope VR will become a more effective way to forge deep and lasting connections with consumers. The challenge is how to integrate VR into other forms of digital marketing and measure the return on investment from using the technology.