AUSTIN, TX: Lufthansa, the air carrier, is leveraging virtual reality (VR) to tackle real-life marketing problems, not least the wider commoditisation of the airline industry.

Torsten Wingenter, Head/Digital Innovations at Lufthansa, discussed this subject at MediaPost's OMMA conference held during South by Southwest (SXSW) 2016.

More specifically, he outlined how the organisation has used virtual reality in airports, as well as utilising 360-degree video activations in various physical and digital locations.

Thanks to VR, Lufthansa can provide a holistic view of the experience it offers, right down to letting users "touch" and "use" the digital items that are displayed. And that helps demonstrate how its product differs from the norm.

"Today, when you get on a plane, sometimes you think you are cattle," said Wingenter. (For more, including further details of this strategy, read Warc's exclusive report: Virtual reality helps Lufthansa's brand take flight.)

"And this is something we really don't like. For us, it's not about bringing people from A to B."

The cost of airlines' attempts to cut back on many aspects of the customer experience, he continued, has been a reduction of their core proposition to cost and speed.

"What's happening for the industry [is] we get reduced to price and time," said Wingenter. This is an outcome evidenced by the use of price-comparison services, and a desire to spend as little time on a plane as possible.

"For us, this is a big problem. Why? Because we believe in our product, and we also believe people should have the chance to experience the product."

In response, Lufthansa has already utilised virtual reality at Berlin's ITB travel show, as well as in airports like New York's JFK and its base in Rio de Janeiro.

This activity has even driven incremental revenue by prompting passengers to choose upgrades while at the gate. "From the sales-side, [it can] let people have the chance to try before they buy," Wingenter said.

Data sourced from Warc