May 16, 2017

VR is a shiny new object that everyone seems to love, but how can planners use it?

First, let's dispel the idea that because it's new, it's necessarily expensive. Because prices have come down and the technology is starting to gain a foothold, it's not a high-priced fad. It has the potential to reveal to us new ways of communicating and experiencing things. Before too long VR may become as familiar as our smartphones and tablets. 

See and sell 
For site-selection purposes, VR is a dream come true. You can experience a property, not just look at pictures. Once you've used VR to become familiar with a venue or city, you can better sell it to your decision-maker, and then to attendees. "Deploying virtual reality really brings a destination like Atlanta to life. It gives meeting planners a much more immersive experience, so they can feel what it's like to host a group function on a rooftop bar or what it's like to explore a city's nightlife with their attendees," said Andrew Wilson, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB).


Atlanta's Peachtree Center has many options for meetings and pre- and post- activities.

Demonstration and education
Often, the best way to learn something is "show me don't tell me." That's exactly where VR excels. Imagine being able to show your group something virtually, whether it's a property or a destination, and how much more they'll take away from it. A 2D image becomes a 3D experience and will make a lasting impression on your group. For example, ACVB launched a virtual reality app in August 2016 that now features three itineraries aimed at both attendees and planners. Each itinerary follows a storyline for different experiences and types of events. In that example, you and your group can see your in-town options and make decisions based on your VR "tour."

The rooftop is all fun and games at Skyline Park ("The Roof" at Ponce City Market) in Atlanta.

Tie-in with the theme
Because of its versatility regarding subject matter, VR can fit neatly with your theme. Is your meeting on a cruise? VR can bring your group on board before you ever set sail and continue the theme all during the event. There are countless creative ways to employ VR technology to dovetail with your theme.

Go basic
When it comes to gear, you can go as basic as Google Cardboard and a smartphone. One CVB has made VR easy: "ACVB developed a version of our app that can be used on any iOS or Android phone without the need of the additional external viewer," said Wilson.

Goal: bonding
At the meeting, you can use VR to team build. Say, sending your group on an adventure together or have them work collectively to solve problems. A treasure hunt is a great way to use the shiny new VR technology to get your group to bond.

To learn more about how ACVB uses VR to the advantage of planners and their groups, click here.

Top photo: Georgia World Congress Center - Fourth Largest Convention Center in the U.S.