Virtual reality holidays come to the high street.


Virtual reality content is being trialled for the first time by Thomas Cook at a new concept store at the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent.

Customers will be able to ‘enter’ a virtual world where they can experience a 360 degree, stereoscopic tour of one of the company’s Sentido resorts as well as the in flight experience from Thomas Cook Airlines.

The first pilot will see customers enjoy a virtual tour on a developer’s version of Oculus Rift, a head mounted virtual reality 3D display, which features an ultra-wide field of view and low latency head tracking.


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The headset combined with the newly developed application will translate head and motion movements across to the virtual world as customers explore the resort, while bespoke audio and even the smell of a Sentido fragrance complete the experience.

With Oculus primed to transform the retail experience, Thomas Cook claims virtual reality will allow customers to take a sneak peek into the future of the high street travel agent.

“The technology advancements in virtual reality over the last 18 months have made it a real contender for playing a key role in changing the way we can showcase experience-based products to our customers, especially in the high street environment,” said John Straw, the group’s digital advisory board chairman.

“We have a roadmap to move forwards into more testing which looks at how we integrate innovative content into a virtual experience for our customers across Europe.”

Future plans include offering customers the ability to experience New York City with Oculus later this year, tying in with the company’s strategic partnership with BrandUSA promoting America’s ‘Great Outdoors’ as well as Cook’s new US flights.

“This trial is an industry first which, using developing technologies, demonstrates our ambition to leverage digital advancements to further improve the customer experience – in this instance to enhance what our customers experience in retail today and in the years to come,” said Joanna Wild, Managing Director of the Thomas Cook retail network.

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Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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