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by Allen J. Sheinman | September 01, 2010

Blame it on the blockbuster movie Avatar. Suddenly, 3-D is hotter than ever before, and the meetings industry is not immune to the phenomenon. Case in point: The majestic 406-room May Fair hotel in London, opened by King George V in 1927, now offers an innovative 3-D theater for conferences, motivational presentations and product launches.

"It's amazing what goes on in this room," says Scott Bradley, audiovisual and technical services manager at the hotel. "We have a portfolio of 3-D films carefully selected to inspire groups, ranging from The Fastest Race on Earth, featuring Jamaican runner Usain Bolt, to The Earth From Space, which has the audience audibly gasping in wonder." It's not unusual to see all 201 seats filled with open-mouthed attendees wearing hip Ray Ban-style 3-D glasses, Bradley adds.

Elsewhere, technology is allowing planners to bring 3-D dimensions to other meeting elements. Lititz, Pa.-based stage production architect Tom McPhillips, who has designed innovative concert settings for Michael Jackson and Martina McBride among others, recently launched Studio 10A to help clients create 3-D and animated tools such as floor plans that can be viewed at any angle, floating holograms for product launches and truly immersive PowerPoint presentations.

With such cutting-edge technology, the services are pricey at present, but as McPhillips notes, "It will help contain costs if you add an extra week's lead time for 3-D designs, give us a solid idea of the event space and think about ways to reuse presentations in 2-D."