Discover Los Angeles required a tool that could assist in the delivery of LA as an attractive destination. VR helped manage expectations and uncover huge areas of this sprawling city.
Los Angeles is a large sprawling city over 400 square miles crammed with a plethora of attractions and activities. In order to logistically peruse all of that during a site inspection or holiday, would be time-consuming and challenging. In order to allow people to focus in on particular areas in Los Angeles, Discover LA turned to Virtual Reality to give customers an immersive experience of the different regions.
Instead of taking a shotgun approach to looking at a city like LA, the team really wanted to allow customers to take a rifle approach and narrow in on an experience, allowing them to picture themselves being there.
The VR platform was initially developed for meeting professionals looking to come to LA but has proven a valuable tool for resellers and travellers alike.
In partnership with a virtual technology-focused company. LA Tourism built a 360 degree viewing platform highlighting Venues such as L.A. LIVE, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Getty Center, The Studios at Paramount, Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood, Petersen Automotive Museum and L.A. Memorial Coliseum.
The first step was to decide what areas of specific venues did they want to show the customers and do they want to show them how to get there, the entrance, what’s around etc. It was a goal to make the VR journey as intuitive as possible and having the customer being able to dive deeper into areas of interest. As an example, everyone has heard of Beverly Hills & Rodeo Drive but not many would know what it looks like or what to expect. The platform would allow them to take their customers there and show them a fully realised 360 view of that area helping the environment resonate with the customer creating an emotional connection to the experience. This has proved vital in the decision making process for their prospective clients.
In order to develop the website, they leaned heavily into the existing Google VR platform and they were particularly conscious to make sure many of the 360 video and image assets were of the highest quality. Existing in the heart of the entertainment industry and the film capital, people automatically expect a high level of production. So while not producing all their own content the curation process has to be quality controlled to maintain the high level of production they were after.
Distribution has been through usual channels of web, social and related press. The main application is a desktop based user interface.
An advertising campaign was rolled out to publicise the new VR platform that Discover LA had created and those campaigns had a strong call to action to drive people to the website. Google analytics supported the success of the platform with an increase in site visitation and time spent on the site. The VR platform provided great support to a lot of their existing content on the website by allowing users to dive deeper into particular content. As an example, if they were reading some traditional content on LA Live they would then be encouraged to take a virtual tour of that space, resulting in longer user sessions.
At their initial rollout of the platform in 2016 at IMEX (incentive, meetings and events exhibition) they were one of the first Destination Management Organisations to display such a platform and were overwhelmed by the response from attendees at the expo. They were impressed with how this platform and the technology elevated the way they communicated their product and delivered their message. Even though they were ahead of the game several years ago, they have plans to take VR to the next level in the digital marketing.
They were impressed regarding the feedback of Virtual Reality's abilities to manage expectations. They realise, at the end of the day, nothing quite matches face to face contact, but this platform allows them to simulate that. They had clients that were intimidated by LA, but after using the VR platform it allowed them to really understand where they wanted to be in the city. Planners had taken the VR experience to their board of directors to pitch Los Angeles as a destination for their meetings and were able to remove any intimidations and apprehensions and educate them on LA as an ideal location. Likewise, this effect has subsequently been applied to tourists planning to vacation in LA.
With LA having one of the fastest growing tech markets in the world (affectionately nicknamed Silicon Beach) Discover LA are reaching out to local tech experts to find out what the latest tools are and what they can do to stay ahead of the game. The continued development and evolutions in the technology means they are going to have to continue to invest and grow their VR strategy.
The team were really passionate about how well VR placed the customer both visually and emotionally into your space. It's for this reason they firmly believe, before diving into any VR strategy, to really dissect what it is your customers are wanting (especially when planning/dreaming) and create your content based on those recommendations. It's easy to get caught up in what you think the customer wants to experience, but when using a tool such as this you want to be as efficient as possible.
While Discover LA has significantly larger resources than most smaller operators, they are bullish on the costs of an effective VR strategy. Due to the rapid growth in the space, they have noticed significant drops in cost since their first inception of VR and only see it becoming more affordable. Also looking at their rollout strategy it was one of a more efficient approach. Utilising other people's content can help create a comprehensive VR experience while maintaining a very modest fiscal investment.
What they also found, is it’s gone beyond giving them a competitive advantage. It’s approaching where it’s expected and that is what you’ll find with just about any technology. While at early adoption stage it definitely gives you an advantage that maybe other operators don’t have, but as VR becomes accepted and more utilised, it then becomes a question that customers will ask ‘Where’s your VR?’.
The opportunity to communicate to customers in a way that is casual and intimate is the most exciting opportunity. Especially when you go to a destination where you don’t have people you know, you want the insider experience. So many people in the world want to say, ‘I’m not a tourist. We’re too cool to be tourists.' and this is where VR really does have an opportunity.