It’s 1:30 on a Friday afternoon, and I’m in a fishing boat somewhere in British Columbia with a tour guide taking me to a cove where sea lions congregate.
Okay, that’s not true. I’m actually sitting on land in a theater in Vancouver during a recent press trip to tour the city’s outstanding convention package. I don’t have the extra time necessary to go on a full tour of the more rustic parts of the province, but thanks to an emerging technology, I’ve been able to get a 360-degree perspective of why I need to make the time to come back for a longer tour. The new tool is a beta version of soon-to-be-released Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset. While the headset has plenty of consumers who love gaming excited, the headset has also found a champion at Destination BC.
“We think this is a great tool to help visitors get a bigger glimpse of what else is waiting here,” Janice Greenwood-Fraser, Manager, Travel Media Relations, Destination BC, says as she helps a cast of meetings industry journalists get comfortable with the goggles. “With everyone’s busy schedules, this tool can play a big role in educating people about the destination.”
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British Columbia is massive. It covers more than 360,000 square miles of territory. Due to my packed schedule in Vancouver, I’ll only see a tiny portion of it. Plenty of other meeting professionals share this same little-time-and-lots-to-see situation. Virtual reality headsets may be able to help solve the problem. They’ll serve as an immersive introduction to the potential of a destination. Rather than directing planners to a gallery of static photos and bullet points of information, tools like the Oculus Rift and the already-available Samsung Gear VR can bring the potential of a destination to life.
Now, I don’t expect meeting professionals to make final decisions based on a four-minute tour from a set of goggles. However, I do think that this technology could be the difference-maker in adding a destination to the consideration set. As meeting professionals juggle packed calendars, it seems that this type of three-dimensional preview can inspire them to make room in the schedule for an in-person visit.
Would a virtual reality experience help you make decisions about where to take your group? Could you see this tool playing a role in helping meeting professionals tour convention centers and hotels, too? Go to Catalyst and weigh in with your thoughts.