Journalists of the Digi-Vegas FAM also experienced the KÀ VR experience in the lobby of MGM Grand Hotel & Casino.
To promote Las Vegas as a leading technology and travel destination, R&R Partners’ public relations team recently arranged, scheduled and hosted the Digi-Vegas FAM trip on the cusp of the Consumer Electronic Show’s 50th anniversary this past January.
Five journalists from the United States, United Kingdom and Mexico were recruited to attend this exclusive Vegas “familiarization” press trip. Representing leading travel and business publications,
journalists went behind the scenes of Las Vegas’ top attractions and entertainment venues, and experienced only-in-Vegas moments in both real time and virtual reality, including experiences in Vegas VR. While much of the coverage is slated to run in upcoming publications, the first article to result from this press visit can be found on Forbes.
Vegas VR, Las Vegas’ virtual reality app, sure knows how to get around. Since its debut in March 2016, the app has been downloaded over 11,200 times; has traveled to more than 10 countries; and has been incorporated into over 20 events, activations and trade shows globally.
Las Vegas has quickly become a leader in the virtual reality (VR) destination marketing field and is still one of the only destinations globally to incorporate virtual reality into its marketing efforts and to have a VR app.
Vegas Goes Virtual
For over 35 years, R&R Partners has been the communications agency of record for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). Campaigns like “What happens here, stays here®” were responsible for creating the modern Las Vegas brand that attracts more than 42 million visitors annually.
But, in order to keep campaigning fresh and relevant, R&R Partners envisioned a new direction for positioning the brand that would tap into the visceral and deeply emotional reasons visitors connect with the city. Thus, Vegas VR, Las Vegas’ virtual reality app, was born.
“Las Vegas is always looking for innovative ways to engage visitors. The VR app allows us to showcase the destination to first-time visitors and remind Vegas enthusiasts about all of the unique offerings,” said Cathy Tull, senior vice president of marketing for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “Vegas VR gives our visitors a new way to connect with Las Vegas.”
When using Vegas VR, consumers are directly connected with a series of original 360-degree interactive videos that become immersive virtual reality experiences when used with a VR viewer compatible with smartphones, such as Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR.
From zip-lining through the Fremont Street Experience aboard Slotzilla, to being serenaded on an authentic gondola ride through The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian and more, Vegas VR places trade show delegates, consumers and would-be visitors alike into some of the most iconic Las Vegas experiences.
A City Seen ‘Round the World
Las Vegas became one of the first destinations to utilize virtual reality technology in March 2016 when Vegas VR was showcased during the ITB travel trade show in Berlin, Germany.
Domestically, the LVCVA introduced the destination’s virtual reality technology to industry and tech media at the 2016 South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference and Festivals in Austin, Texas, which celebrates the convergence of the interactive, film and music industries.
Since its initial debut, it has continued to be used on a global scale. From trade shows, to media events and consumer brand activations, Vegas VR continues to shine.
Over summer 2016, Vegas VR went through its first major refresh, which brought new content and a new design. Additional features were added to some of the videos, including fact overlays, scene-change capabilities and time-lapse footage.
The LVCVA’s foray into VR technology started about two years ago when it partnered with Google on GeoVegas, a site that featured steerable 360-degree photos and videos inside Vegas hotels and attractions. It functioned like a digital walk-through, enabling viewers to tour a hotel, nightclub or restaurant.
To create the VR content, R&R Partners worked with the LVCVA and its destination partners to film 360-degree videos of experiences that only exist in Las Vegas using a Pro7 360 Plug-N-Play Holder and seven GoPro Hero 4 Black cameras, professional tools used for filming virtual reality 360-degree content in various environments.
Once the videos were created and stitched together, R&R Partners worked with Wemersive to create the Vegas VR app users can download today. Depending on the content of the video, the entire process can take anywhere from one to six weeks to create.
Vegas VR continues to be one of the most accessible VR apps on the market. All users need is the app, a smartphone and a cardboard viewer. Even without a cardboard viewer, users are able to watch all of the 360-degree videos on the app and interact with the videos using gyroscope, swipe and zoom functions without using additional virtual reality technology.
The Vegas VR app has been downloaded more than 11,200 times. The LVCVA has also distributed its virtual reality content through social media channels and other digital platforms where they’ve received over 17 million views.
The LVCVA and R&R Partners are always looking for new content and will continue to create and add new VR experiences to the app. Moving forward, the LVCVA and R&R Partners will look to add storytelling elements to the VR content and continue to use new elements such as the fact overlays, multiscene capabilities and time-lapse elements.
Vegas VR is available for iOS and Android platforms and is free to download here or through the App Store and Google Play. A selection of 360-degree videos are also available to view on Las Vegas’ YouTube channel.
The LVCVA has also launched VIVA, a dynamic and engaging platform that captures the best Las Vegas has to offer through original destination digital content, and WhereToVegas, a mobile app that provides visitors with a social heat map of trending locations and events in Las Vegas, helping visitors maximize their Vegas vacation experience by informing them of the “hot spots” in town during their stay.
I’ve attended conferences across the globe, including an education industry show in London and an energy-efficiency segment event in Kuala Lumpur. In past roles, I’ve even had the opportunity to speak at several—two highlights being at the World Energy Efficiency Congress in Abu Dhabi and at regional conference in Thailand. As a veteran to keynotes, breakout sessions, inspirational speakers, and the art of conference lanyard collection, I feel like I have experienced it all.
And I was wrong. Attending a leadership conference specifically geared to the inspiration, celebration and development of women was a new experience. Celebrating its 10th year and hosted by the MGM Resorts Foundation, this week’s Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC2016) in Las Vegas was a dynamic event with a full agenda for its sold-out crowd of 1,000 women (and a few men). I could wax poetically about the powerful lineup of amazing women, like Phyllis A. James (MGM Resort International’s chief diversity officer), who left me with this thought—that “women have multiple glass ceilings, yet each of us has a hammer.” Yet, I thought I’d rely on the experiences of my talented colleagues who also attended WLC2016, all of whom were invited guests of the R&R Foundation, a proud WLC2016 sponsor.
MGM Resort’s Phyllis A. Jones
Donna Brazile Charms and Inspires
Dr. Lalia Rach’s “Business Leadership: For Adults Only”
“The big theme I took away was leaning in to fears,” says Julie Teasley, director of operations. Several speakers directly mentioned the ideology that Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg made famous in a TED Talk, and others emphasized that instead of waiting to be recognized, women should move forward to success. Donna Brazile, a favorite of attendees who made an impact on several of us, quipped, “Why are you still waiting to be asked to lead? Why not you? There is no one better.”
Donna is a veteran democratic political strategist and most recently named interim chair of the DNC. Her hilarious sense of humor and words of wisdom also resonated with Yanick Dalhouse, account director from R&R Resources+ in Washington, D.C. She recalls Donna saying, “We don’t have to check the boxes that others give us; we can check our own.” And this author giggled along with the entire room to this Donna-ism: “I’ve always told the men I’ve worked with … when I come through the door, I’m not asking you to leave. I’m just saying scoot over!”
R&R’s Chantel Perreault, operations supervisor, recalls several speakers talking about focusing on the important priorities, and breakout speaker Judi Holler added that the master of all fears is the fear that one will succeed. Judi, a former improv comedian at Chicago’s famous Second City, had a quote that resonated with Chantel: “Make fear your homeboy.”
Jeanette Schneider Charges WLC Attendees to Take Charge of Our Destinies
Yanick Dalhouse, Joan Jungblut, Julie Teasley, Shan Bates-Bundick, Karyn Hearn-Phillips, Chantel Perreault, Sara MacFarlane
Alison Levine: Adventure Grand Slam Designee Who Has Climbed Highest Peak on Every Continent
Something that resonated with Joan Jungblut, corporate media director, from several of the speakers, was best articulated by Donna Brazile: “No matter how you got in the room, bring others with you,” which is to say seize the opportunities that arise for you, as well as create opportunities for others to rise. Another point that was covered in sessions by both Dr. Lalia Rach and Eric Boles was that mediocrity is contagious. Joan says, “It’s easy and ‘safe’ to be average, and so we don’t set goals high enough. We have to set high expectations for ourselves and our teams so we rise to those expectations.”
“Overall, I came away with mixed emotions: on the one hand, we’ve come so far,” shares Sara Macfarlane, director of insight. “But on the other, you could see how even among some of the monumental women on stage, we continue to struggle with the duality of being a professional woman and that we continue to limit ourselves.” Karyn Hearn-Phillips, project supervisor, recalls Judi Holler’s “There are no mistakes, only gifts,” and this advice that sums up the elegance and professionalism that we all hope to be, shared by Donna Brazile: “Be a woman of grace, valor and tenacity.”
Lindsey Patterson, media director, recalled this additional Donna gem that I will leave you with: “Relationships matter. Even when you have staunchly different views, it’s important to play nicely.” With such an outstanding leadership conference under our belts, and with the wisdom by such incredible leaders at our fingertips, we are inspired. And I hope this recap and the learnings of several women leaders at R&R Partners serve to inspire you, as well.