The use of virtual elements for developing new service prototyping environments and more realistic simulations has been suggested as a way to optimise the service prototyping process. This work examines the application of virtual reality (VR) in prototyping service journeys and it hypothesises that VR can recreate service journeys in a highly immersive, agile, and inexpensive manner, thus allowing users to have a representative service experience and enabling service designers to extract high-quality user feedback. To that end, a new service prototyping method, called VR service walkthrough, is presented and evaluated through an empirical comparative study. A VR service walkthrough is a virtual simulation of a service journey, representing how the service unfolds over space and time. A comparative study between the VR service walkthrough method and an adapted service walkthrough method evaluates the application of both methods using a location-based audio tour guide service as a case study. Two user groups (each with 21 users) were used to evaluate both methods based on two factors: the user experience they offered and the subjective meaningfulness and quality of feedback they produced. Results show that the VR service walkthrough method gave a performance similar to that of the service walkthrough method. It was also able to communicate the service concept in an immersive way and foster constructive feedback.
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