When Neilson Active Holidays wanted to show consumers the windsurfing facilities at its resorts, it didn’t run a TV ad. Instead the brand teamed up with agency MBA to bring the experience to life with a dummy windsurfing board, a giant fan and a 360-degree VR video.
According to Sam Shaw, head of insight at research firm Canvas8, the medium of VR is a logical fit for travel brands as it lets people escape their everyday reality: "The obvious killer app here is to transport people into another place, another time or another world."
And as more travel operators get in on the act – STA jetting shoppers to San Francisco and Kayak lending Londoners some Miami sun – there’s potential for brands in this sector to take VR even further.
"The medium is as different as radio was to print, in the sense that it has its own parameters that have never before been explored," Shaw added.
By combining the technology with hand sensors such as Leap Motion, VR can let consumers feel out the brand’s world, literally.
Sports fans want to get closer to the game, and VR can offer brands a clever way to facilitate that.
Activations like Samsung’s School of Rugby – which saw fans test their reaction speeds against top players – can add a realistic edge to competitions. It’s also easy to add in surprises when they remove their headset. (In Samsung's case, this was an appearance from several rugby stars.)
In the saturated landscape of sport sponsorship, VR can also help brands stand out. Nick Hird, an account director at J. Walter Thompson London, told Event: "The VR experience is a huge novelty for first time users, and as such can deliver a memorable branded experience for relatively little investment."
It’s scalable too. While headsets like the Oculus Rift clock in at $599.99 (£420), cardboard sets – which act as a smartphone dock – are cheap to mass produce.
Stella Artois’ VR experience – which let those at the Wimbledon Championships fly across the courts, mimicking its resident bird of prey, Rufus – was available to download on the Google Play Store for just this reason.
VR can add an extra dimension to events and broaden their reach as a gateway for those who can’t be there in-person.
In February, Samsung staged a gig with pop group Years & Years that let the audience toggle between three different camera angles on their Gear VR headset.
Fans from across the globe could also view the in-the-round performance from their own headset by downloading the Samsung + Years & Years app from the Oculus store.
Besides growing an event's reach, VR is also a chance to enable consumers to experience something out-of-the-ordinary.
This spring HTC created Virtually Dead, an event that definitely wouldn’t get past health and safety in real life. It let gamers fight and kill a horde of zombies inside its warehouse space, which spanned nearly half a kilometre.
So, with further developments in VR technology on the horizon, it's all to play for.