Travelers considering a visit to Hawaii can check out the Islands at a new website sure to offer a different perspective on the destination. Using Google Earth technology, the Honolulu-based company Team Vision Virtual created 3DHawaii.com, an online travel portal that lets users explore the state's attractions in 3-D.
"Hawaii's legendary landscapes come to life for travelers at 3DHawaii.com," said Craig Carapelho, CEO for Team Vision Virtual, in a statement released before the website's launch in July. "We have invested in and published hundreds of high-quality 3-D buildings on Google Earth, which is going to drive a substantial amount of new Web visitor traffic to our destination and our partners. Hotels, activities, shopping centers, historic landmarks and other venues featured will help solidify the decision-making process for prospective visitors."
Carapelho did say the website, which enables users to book hotel rooms directly with a property and activities through a wholesaler, was created primarily with consumers in mind. He was quick to mention, however, that the site could be a valuable tool for travel agents.
"It's the only site in the world right now where you can virtually explore a destination, so if agents are trying to sell Maui, they could show them Lahaina and everything there is to do there," Carapelho said. "They could show them hiking trails and all the hotels, restaurants, places to shop. ... I think for travel agents it's an amazing tool that will help them bring these things they're trying to sell to life -- not just through pictures or a website, but actually flying them there and showing them where it is in proximity to their hotel, how close it is to the beach."
According to Carapelho, 3DHawaii.com features more than 2,500 listings, including parks and beaches, along with editorial content created by Team Vision Virtual about upcoming events and off-the-beaten-path opportunities.
Carapelho's company also offers what he called private-label products that travel agents or entire agencies could purchase, allowing them "to basically use our technology on their own website and kind of customize it," he explained.
"They'd have all the content that we have, all the 3-D buildings, all the videos, pictures, everything imported directly into their own private label for an annual license fee. ... And if they're using a booking engine, they could integrate with that, as well."
Agents not ready to commit to the private-label option could still use links from the public 3DHawaii portal in emails to clients.
"We have original URLs for every location," Carapelho said. "So if you wanted to show a client Hilton Hawaiian Village, you could send that location to your client with a brief note, and when they click on it, it will launch 3DHawaii and will fly them right to the front door of the Hilton Hawaiian Village and pop open their website."
Team Vision Virtual plans to launch a similar website for Las Vegas before the end of the year and sites covering five more city destinations by the end of 2011.