TRAVEL professionals now have the ability to let clients virtually explore destinations and attractions in minute detail with the click of a mouse through 3rd Planet, an interactive online travel programme that launched on December 10.
Targeted chiefly at young, tech-savvy consumers and downloadable on both PC and Mac operating systems, the programme offers interactive environments incorporating sounds that can be heard at actual sites, as well as content describing tourist attractions and key visitor facts.
3rd Planet is the brainchild of Terence Mak, a serial Singaporean IT entrepreneur who worked together with the Nepal Tourism Board to develop the programme’s first-ever immersive experience, Journey to Everest, which showcases four locations in the kingdom.
“The 3rd Planet platform allows the travel and tourism industry to broadcast their content to the world,” said Mak.
“Tourism companies and destinations are marketing themselves in isolation, and 3rd Planet can be that glue to allow the global industry to collaborate more closely with one another.”
“It gives travel professionals a new and educational way to sell a destination and its products, and to create more value for customers,” he added.
In order to have their content featured, tourism stakeholders will be charged fees ranging from US$1,000 to US$1 million for production and support, depending on the size and location of the project, Mak said. Consumers will not be charged for use.
According to Mak, the programme can also be embedded into existing websites, which is how he is planning to license the product to travel firms. A content management system, which will facilitate the uploading of content such as photos, promotions and pricing, will be ready sometime next year.
Planning tools to help the trade and consumers develop itineraries, and platform extension to iPads as well as Android smartphones, are also on the cards.
About 10,000 users have signed up since 3rd Planet’s launch, with the biggest interest stemming from the US. When asked how many users the programme could support, Mak said: “Hundreds of millions. It was designed for that.”
3rd Planet is currently in discussions with various guidebooks, NTOs and media companies keen to tap its technology. Meanwhile, Mak said that he would continue to rely on public relation initiatives and tradeshows to engage with travel professionals as well as consumers.