One of North America’s largest exclusively pre-owned RV dealerships, Mr. Motorhome, has embraced the emerging technology of virtual reality (VR) to enhance its online operations. The company has locations in the Sacramento market of Elk Grove, Calif., as well as a seasonal site in Quartzite, Ariz.
VR is a computer technology that uses images and sounds – and sometimes other sensations – to replicate a real environment, in this case the interior of an RV. The user wears a goggle-type device to be immersed into the VR setting, essentially placing them inside (or outside) the unit and free to explore the RV.
“They can walk around the entire coach just like they are there,” said Mitchell Davidson, operations manager at Mr. Motorhome, adding that VR is a tool that allows their customers – many of whom are hundreds if not thousands of miles away – the opportunity to “try before they buy,” at least in the virtual sense.
“Before we started using 3D virtual reality tours they had to rely on a handful of pictures, or at best a short video, to try and capture the layout, spaciousness and overall feel of the RVs they are interested in,” Davidson told RVBUSINESS.com. “Our customers are able to view the layout, size and condition nearly as well as they would be able to in person, removing the fear of purchasing something sight unseen and being disappointed upon delivery.”
Since adding the VR feature, Davidson reported the dealership’s website has experienced an increase in page views as well as time-spent-per-visit.
A California company called Matterport developed the VR camera, which Mr. Motorhome acquired for around $4,500. In addition, Davidson said there’s a reoccurring small monthly cost and per unit cost, as well as an increase of staffing hours by about 40 hours a week, mostly due to RV prep and the actual shoot in addition to creating custom graphics and marketing the new technology.
Regardless, Davidson said the technology is worth the investment especially as the staff continues to add more “bells and whistles” to the VR experience.
“The customer can click on a ‘floorplan’ button where they can see the overhead floorplan view of the RV just like the roof has been removed. They can also select a ‘dollhouse’ feature where they can look at the RV from any angle just like you would be able to look into a dollhouse with a cutaway cross section,” Davidson explained.
“We are also able to label items in the coach in 3D space with an information tag,” he continued. “For example, I can select the bed in Winnebago Adventurers of certain model years pointing out the sleep number system. When the ‘information’ button is selected the customer is walked right to the item with a small description and title. We are adding to the technology every day and hope to roll out with a full outside/inside walk-through with the ability to literally walk around the RV, right through the entrance door and all throughout the coach.”
Mr. Motorhome has been in business for more than 40 years with an inventory of up to 200 units at a time. The nearly 50-employee dealership also offers 15 indoor bays for service and repair.