Virtual Reality: Triggering emotions in tourism marketing

Master thesis - Julia Beck

Virtual Reality as a tool to trigger emotions in tourism marketing – Subjective and objective measurements to investigate the impact of VR

Recent developments in the field of VR provide vast opportunities for tourism marketing. This research aims at better understanding whether the application of fully immersive VR systems in a tourism marketing context differ in triggering positive emotions compared to non-immersive VR systems and consequently, their influences on product interest and purchase immediacy. As it is essential to understand emotional responses to marketing stimuli and as the majority of emotional processing happens subconsciously, subjective and objective emotion measurement methods are combined. Based on a comprehensive laboratory experiment, during which the participants were exposed to a 360-degree destination marketing video with either a head-mounted display or a desktop PC, a significant increase for physiological emotional reactions in terms of heart rate and electrodermal activity could be observed. However, the conducted subjective evaluation of emotions as well as decision-making could not show any significant differences between the two groups. These partly contradicting results suggest that measurement and interpretation of emotions in tourism marketing should be further investigated by field experiments. Nevertheless, it could be concluded that VR, used as a tool in marketing, has the potential of increasing positive emotions. Given the enthusiasm and interest regarding future developments in this field, this research finally gives recommendations regarding investment in VR technology in a travel and tourism context and may also serve as a basis for further and more specialised studies.

The following video provides an overview about the experiment and study results:

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