Virtual Reality is a hot topic in the attractions industry today. Despite existing for decades, the technology powering VR has accelerated in recent years and is now more commonplace within leisure venues. Even more excited are the enhancements that market analysts are expecting in the next 5-10 years, with VR games leading the way. Gone are the days when VR is associated with motion sickness and clunky graphics, and the number of VR providers continues to increase at nearly every industry trade show.
James Jensen, an expert in VR and founder of both The VOID and JUMP, recently appeared on the Guest Experience Show to share details of the JUMP experience and goes deep into the mission behind what VR can do for guests. Here we’ll share highlights from James’s interview that outline the purpose of virtual reality, how it is used for cognitive reframing, and how JUMP creates life-changing moments and experiences for guests.
VR for entertainment, leisure & more
When James created The VOID, his previous venture, he only realized the effect of being fully present in their environment once he observed guests walking in as adults and out as children after seeking to destroy villains such as Darth Vader or the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. This was due to VR putting guests into an ultimate flow state, the highest focus and concentration humans can be in. By eliminating distractions from the outside world, we achieve flow most effectively through VR.
These benefits extend beyond the experience within the venue. Our perception of the world is based on our previous experiences. Virtual reality is not just the latest trend in entertainment and leisure; it can make us better and stronger at facing real-world challenges.
Better understanding cognitive reframing?
JUMP provides the opportunity for experiential learning that can change how we experience or interact with our emotions. This is done through “cognitive reframing,” which is taking a sensation or an emotion and reassociating it with something else.
For example, fear is an emotion that we associate with something negative, and when we sense it, we turn away from the emotion, and therefore we naturally avoid things that bring us fear. Through cognitive reframing, JUMP can help redefine fear into something that pushes guests toward success and celebration. Instead of turning back, guests can see themselves succeeding, and fear prompts them to run toward it. This is a rewiring of our neuro network’s sensation of fear. James shares a story about a guest who had a fear of flying, and after the JUMP experience, he was flying home. When the plane experienced turbulence, his nerves remained calm when otherwise he would have had anxiety.
Fear is not, however, to be confused with danger. James stresses that while fear is not real, the danger is. Fear is often an illusion, and JUMP allows approaching something that looks and feels real and then plow past the illusion.
Creating life-changing moments
The role of the frontline team member is critical at JUMP. One of JUMP’s taglines is “We create life-changing moments.” This includes guests who get into the simulator and those who don’t, including guests who initially intended to and backed out.
The staff has the ability - and the responsibility - to amp up the experience and remain on theme so that virtual reality is supported by the actual reality of the interactions with the team. While everything on the exterior of the building promotes virtual reality, once you begin the experience, the notion of virtual reality is removed to push toward full immersion.
Part of the customer journey includes guests backing out from experience. These are handled delicately, and because of the care and genuine concern that the staff addresses it without making guests feel bad; more than half of the guests who initially backed out of the experience come back and face their fear.
James says that as part of his guest experience philosophy, his team uses all the technology they can to create life-changing moments and experiences for their guests.
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