Virtual Tours

Interview: El Tambo 360, a lesson on tourism and virtual reality in war-affected territories

Meet El Tambo 360 in this interview with our allies, who tell us how we helped to rescue a territory affected by war through the use of virtual reality applied to tourism.   Surely you have heard that virtual reality is a technology that allows us to create the unimaginable or recreate the world in which we live at our whim. However, at Perspektiva 360 we prefer to ask ourselves… How can we transform our reality using virtual reality? It is almost a mantra that we share with our allies from Get Up & Go Colombia, with whom we have embarked on the mission of supporting peacebuilding in our country, using the development of VR apps. We want all virtual reality glasses (such as the Oculus Quest) in the Colombian and world market to be able to show the great potential that exists for tourism in Colombia. But, you know? It is a challenging task, because we have decided to promote a very special type of tourism… We talked about this with Miguel Carvajal, co-founder of Get Up & Go Colombia, in an interview where he told us about his experience as director of the Turismo Para El Tambo(Tourism for El Tambo) project, an initiative co-financed by USAID through its Territorios de Oportunidad (Territories of Opportunity) program, to transform this region of the department of Cauca, which has spent years trying to overcome the damage suffered by the armed conflict and is now succeeding. Turismo Para El Tambo has generated community ties and alliances with public and private sectors at the national level, benefiting 15 associations and more than 240 families from Cauca since 2019. Behind these achievements was the Perspektiva 360 team, contributing a great milestoneEl Tambo 360”, our first virtual reality app with 360 photography and video, dedicated to tourism for peace.

Thank you for joining us Miguel. First of all, we would like to know, why you chose El Tambo?

M.C.: Well, after the Havana Agreement in 2016, this region experienced peace for the first time in decades. Many peasants began to build a new life and replace the illicit crops for products such as chontaduro and cocoa. We wanted to support them and change the image of El Tambo before its people and the world.

Having started the project in 2019, I guess you were surprised by the pandemic in 2020. What did you lean on during such a difficult time?

M.C.: Exactly. “We discovered that with ICT and digital marketing we were able to communicate and that was something great, because (El Tambo) is not like San Andrés, a place that everyone knows”-. We managed to make the public stop perceiving El Tambo as a territory of war and understand that it was culture, nature, well-being and gastronomy. And, although it was something important, it was not enough for that moment…

Why was not that enough?

M.C.: Because we wanted to achieve better results, we had goals that we had to achieve and we needed to close sales so that people would visit the region.

Of course, that’s important. So what did you do to improve on this matter?

M.C.: In addition to digital marketing, we turned to another strategy. “This is when Perspektiva 360 came in with 360 photography, 360 video and development of virtual reality applications that were the boom”-. Because we were able to open people’s eyes the community had to believe that tourism was possible in El Tambo”-. In addition, we were able to relate to the public sector – “The development of the virtual reality application was what brought us to the Mayor’s Office of Popayán (Capital of Cauca)”-, therefore, they believe in El Tambo and financed our participation in the Vitrina Turística ANATO 2021, a very important international tourism convention in Colombia. – “In ANATO we were the only ones who had an experience in virtual reality (…), that is why people talked about us”-, That opened the doors to new alliances with other organizations at a national level.

That is great. Tell us more… How many benefits that you received from using the virtual reality applications developed by Perspektiva 360?

M.C.: First of all, draw attention to generate alliances. Thanks to them we have been able to organize and participate in national events, where we always use our virtual reality glasses, Oculus Quest. Since we tried the development of VR applications, it has been the most innovative way of promoting ourselves: We appear at fairs, business roundtables, shopping centers, parks and, of course, El Tambo farms. We also get good results by taking them to hotels and cafes, “We get allies with the wow effect that virtual reality produces”. Thanks to this work, more than 300 people have enjoyed the VR experience with our Oculus Quest so far, and that number continues to grow.

But the virtual reality glasses don’t do all the work yet, right? What strategy do you employ with the use of the Oculus Quest in the events?

M.C.: Well, when we show up at events, especially in Popayán, once the potential client finishes the tour in virtual reality, we show them our portfolio. Most of the times a conversion occurs, the client makes a reservation or gives their data so that we can do a re-marketing.

And what content, 360 photography or video, are the ones your users like the most or the ones who have been most useful for closing sales?

M.C.: Most of all, we use the 360 photographs and videos of the waterfalls, the paragliding flight experience, the panoramic view of the glamping sites, among other similar content. Although the person can feel the Oculus Quest on their head, we always accompany them and notice the effects, the experience is so immersive that almost everyone feels vertigo when watching the 360 video paragliding. (Laughs)

We know. That looks spectacular! How have reactions of your customers been? Have you had any very particular?

M.C.: Of course we have! In one occasion, the development secretary of El Tambo put on the virtual reality glasses and, to our surprise, when she saw the waterfall, started crying! Shortly after, we learned that this was the place whe she had lived her childhood and the beauty of 360 video and photography had awakened in her many emotions that she could not contain.

Incredible! And children…?

MC: “Children don’t use virtual reality glasses like adults. They explore and walk without fear (…)”-, the adults are so impressed that they are very cautious – “they take two little steps and say ‘leave me here’”- (Laughter), the children ask to take the tour over and over again – “, they have the best reactions we’ve ever seen.

This is the magic of virtual reality. Tell us, what do users say when they learn about this new perspective of El Tambo?

MC: Sure! It is very curious. Many people, even tourism experts in Cauca, cannot believe what they see in 360 photography. They always ask – “Is this in Cauca?“-. And what caught our attention the most was that even children and young people from El Tambo had a hard time recognizing their territory – “Is this here in El Tambo?!” – they exclaimed in amazement while watching the 360 ​​video. That was a contribution of great value to the community.

It sounds like fiction, but it’s an anecdote… Taking up the advantages of using virtual reality products created by Perspektiva 360, which do you think has been the most important so far?

MC: Definitely, be innovative. We set a precedent that helped us position El Tambo as a transformed region that can now generate income with a tourist offer, something that is not easy when it comes to an emerging tourist destination. – “If no one, not even the people of El Tambo, were aware of this, tourism would have been impossible” -. And this benefit has not only impacted El Tambo, but the entire department of Cauca.

It moves us to know what you tell us, because it was hard work to which we put a lot of energy and heart. How was the experience of developing virtual reality applications with Perspektiva 360?

MC: Well, at the end of 2020 we started the creative process with Perspektiva 360, from studying the region to determining the staging. Once we did the logistics, we received the photographers at the beginning of 2021. For 6 days they took 360 photography and 360 video in 10 places. “That was a tremendous thing! Perspektiva 360 really committed to the cause” and in April we were able to launch our virtual reality application…

And how did you feel during the whole process?

MC: … “It was a very nice process that felt like a walk with friends (…), if I want to highlight something, it is the professionalism of the Perspektiva 360 team (…), they always, with the greatest calm and best disposition, met all the requirements of the project.”

It’s even more touching to know that. We also enjoy having you as allies. Finally, what lessons did you learn from this experience, including application development and use of virtual reality?

M.C.: ICT tools are something great, because our work is not easy. The territories affected by the conflict are not positioned – “We do not sell Medellín, Guatapé or San Andrés, where everything is done, it is beautiful and safe” -, so we need differential tools to have advantages. We learned that with 360 photography and 360 video content it is possible to show more than just landscapes. The technology that is within our reach has no limits, so we can provide complete tourism experiences through the development of applications in virtual reality. Tools such as virtual tours – “They are a materialization of what we do,” because it is not the same to say it to teach it using a pair of Oculus Quest. – “People are very visual (…) when using the glasses realize what we are really doing” and that facilitates our positioning here and anywhere in the world. As we said goodbye to Miguel, he told us how impressed he was to see how the world is changing with new agendas around technology for VR development. – “It’s amazing that the Oculus Quest virtual reality glasses we bought were made by Facebook”, he says laughing, referring to the new Meta corporation. Small parenthesis. (In case you don’t know, Meta is the name under which important technology companies worldwide have come together: Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus; and has popularized the concept of “Metaverse) … But that will be the subject of another entry. By now, we hope you have discovered some of the many possibilities and benefits of using VR technology. Do you have an idea in mind that you would like or could take to virtual reality to transform reality? Click here to contact us and we will show you how to do it in the most innovative way, because at Perspektiva 360 we are already creating future.

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