Sir Richard Branson, the chairman of Virgin Atlantic holding company Virgin group, revealed his vision for the travel agent of the future to include full video cabin interior simulators.

In an interview for Flight stablemate Australian travel agents' trade magazine Travel Weekly, Branson says he expects passengers to be able to walk onboard three-dimensional computer mock-ups of aircraft cabins when booking flights. The move will ensure travel agents' survival in the wake of online booking, as the large chains will be able to fund the investment in simulators.

"With video games being as good as they are, I would like to effectively sit inside a Virgin Atlantic aircraft. I'd like to sit in my seat, to see where the bar is, to see where, if I like a massage, where I need to go. I'd like to check out the legroom all in this video game," Branson says. He continues that the technology would not be restricted to aircraft, but to hotels, to cruise ships and every aspect of a holiday booking.

Branson also talks of plans to build the second Virgin Galactic space station in the Australian Outback. "The obvious place to build a space station is between Alice Springs and Ayer's Rock [Uluru], where there are lots of old, very long runways from decades ago," he says. Another possibility is bussland in Queensland, west of Brisbane, says Branson. Talks have started with Australian partners, he says, with more advanced details being released "in 3-4 years".

Audio download:
To hear the full interview between Travel Weekly Australia's Claire Sweeney and Sir Richard Branson on Virgin Galactic and the future evolution of travel agencies, download the mp3 file.