AUSTIN, TEXAS -- Lufthansa handed out some real swag to demonstrate a virtual sales experience during an OMMA SXSW panel here this morning. The hand-out, Lufthansa-branded Google Cardboard devices, was a visceral way of demonstrating what might otherwise have been an intangible experience for some attendees watching Lufthansa Head of Digital Innovations Torsten Wingenter’s presentation.
The presentation, which included a video showing what happened when Lufthansa introduced VR during an international travel conference in Berlin, enabled people to experience what it is like to fly on Lufthansa before they board a jet.
Wingenter said the reason for leveraging VR was that the real-world experience of shopping for air travel had grown virtually commoditized and undifferentiated for airlines and consumers and the industry alike focused on the efficiency of digital ecommerce booking sites vs. the branded value of flying one airline vs. another.
“We got reduced to time and price,” he said, noting that meta search engines motivated consumers to search for the best price and the least amount of time spent traveling.
To break out of that commodified approach, Wingenter said he lobbied Lufthansa to leverage VR -- including Oculus Rift -- to enable consumers to “experience the product,” which he said has improved vs. a few years ago. He said the goal was to “bring back the excitement of flying.
“What is flying, actually? And what is traveling?,” he asked OMMA SXSW attendees, rhetorically, answering, “What is traveling if not to get from [point] A to B, but the experiences you have at the end of the day.”The solution was to enable people to view the Lufthansa flight experience before they select a flight.