From humble beginnings in a small Bronx storefront to a preeminent position in the travel industry, Perillo Tours has remained true to its founding principles of escorted, all-inclusive tours that offer peace of mind and unforgettable experiences while taking us to a new frontier of travel with Virtual Reality.
The story of Perillo Tours is one of determination, hard work, and a love for Italy that has spanned three generations. It begins with Joseph Perillo, a young Italian attorney who left his native Naples for the United States in 1925. Like many immigrants, Joseph was determined to make a better life for himself and his family in America.
In 1945, Joseph founded Perillo Tours in a small storefront in the Bronx’s Little Italy neighborhood. His goal was to meet the growing demand for travel services among the large Italian immigrant population in New York. The company quickly became a hub for Italian Americans seeking travel advice and community services.
Joseph’s son, Mario Perillo, joined the company six months after it opened. Mario was a natural entrepreneur with a passion for travel. He saw an opportunity to offer all-inclusive tours to Italy, something new and innovative at the time. Mario’s first tour was a resounding success, and he soon became known for his escorted, all-inclusive tours that offered travelers peace of mind and no surprises.
Perillo Tours quickly became the largest Italian ethnic agency in New York City, thanks in part to Mario’s savvy marketing skills. He was an early adopter of modern advertising techniques, and his commercials featuring “Mr. Italy” became iconic in the travel industry.
Today, Perillo Tours is run by Mario’s son, Steve Perillo, who continues the family tradition of offering the best in escorted, independent, and custom group vacations around the world. But the Perillo spirit doesn’t rest on its laurels. A new age calls for a new way of experiencing travel to Italy and beyond, and Perillo Tours is leading the way.
The Dawn of Virtual Travel
In 2018, President and CEO of Perillo Tours, Steve Perillo and Travel Industry Marketing and Sales Executive John C. Graham joined forces to create Travel World VR (TWVR). By downloading the app, you can explore Italy’s famous landmarks, such as the Colosseum in Rome and the canals of Venice, from the comfort of your home. “With 360-degree views, it feels like you are standing in these iconic locations, taking in the stunning architecture and scenery,” says the President of Travel World VR, John Graham.
“These experiences allow us to immerse ourselves in the country’s traditions and customs and gain a deeper understanding of its people and way of life before arriving there.”– John Graham,
President Of Travel World VR
The TWVR app has also gained popularity with travel suppliers desiring to share VR experiences with their customers and future travelers looking for new adventures. “Travelers purchase experiences, not products,” says Graham. “Virtual Reality offers an effective way for travel suppliers to provide value by giving their customers a taste and feel of what to expect. Our partner advisors worldwide are leveraging VR technology to drive bookings in an environment that’s becoming more and more saturated.”
Benefits of Virtual Reality Travel
VR proved essential during COVID-19, but Travel World VR was not born under pressure to cope with a sharp revenue decline caused by closed borders. Steve Perillo believed then and still believes that VR technology will be even more essential in the future. “Travelers are becoming more discerning about where to go and what experiences to invest in,” says Perillo. “VR helps consumers accurately envision their future travel investment and mindfully prepare for the type of experience they wish to have. “Of course, virtual travel can only partially replace the thrill of actually being in Italy,” says Perillo. “The sights, sounds, and smells of the country are a big part of the experience, and nothing can compare to the feeling of walking through the streets of Florence or enjoying a gelato in a piazza. But virtual travel can be a great way to prepare for a future trip to Italy or to relive fond memories of past visits.”
Travel World VR is creating dynamic 360 degree senior living community virtual tours for assisted living facilities as well. “I’ll never forget this particular time I visited my mother at her nursing home,” recalls Graham.
“The glow of enthusiasm in my mother’s eyes as she told me about her “Trip to Italy” (of course, she hadn’t really been there as it was a virtual experience) told me it was something more than just a viewing experience for her.”
And science would agree
According to recent neuroscience research, VR and the brain share the primary mechanism: Embodied simulations. By altering how we think, we can move from a mental state of deprivation to a feeling of hopeful anticipation. VR allows users to see beyond their physical reality by imagining a different one.
To predict emerging travel trends and how travel will be reimagined in 2023, Booking.com commissioned an in-depth study of more than 24,000 travelers in 32 countries, and what they discovered is fascinating.
According to the study, more than 40% of travelers say they will first turn to VR or Augmented Reality experiences to choose their holidays. VR and AR can unlock inhibitions, helping travelers become more adventurous in their travel choices. The in-depth study revealed that 46% of travelers are more likely to travel to destinations they would not have previously considered after experiencing them virtually.
“If the last few years have taught us anything, it is that travel should not be taken for granted. This year’s travel predictions study shows the undercurrent of paradoxical intentional behaviours that will make us all more comfortable in the face of relentless instability. It also shows that travel is a way to seek moments of happiness and escape to counterbalance the heavy realities of our information flows.”– Arjan Dijk,
Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Booking.com
Sign up for the LF Italy newsletter
Access The Rare and Wonderful, LF Italy’s monthly newsletter. Get our latest interviews and discoveries in wellness, travel, innovation, food & drink, unique stays and more.
Italy & Beyond
Travel World VR is not limited to Italian experiences. TWVR works with destinations worldwide and welcomes all types of travel suppliers,” said Graham. While VR cannot fully replace the thrill of actual travel, it can be an excellent tool for preparing for a future trip, reliving past memories, and satisfying our wanderlust when travel is not on the horizon.
So why not take a virtual trip today and explore a new side of the world? Take a trip to the Trevi Fountain. Ride that Gondola in Venice. Soar up Lower Manhattan’s One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, escape to the impressive Tham Khao Luang cave shrine in Thailand or go for a refreshing swim in one of Jamaica’s many crystalline reef-lined beaches. The options are plenty — all you have to do is download the Travel World VR app, sit back and enjoy.
Images courtesy of Lauren Cleary and Giuseppe Lepore