Vegas embraces potential of virtual reality marketing


By Sarah Feldberg
May 17, 2016

Imagine: You are high above the Fremont Street Experience, Downtown Las Vegas’ cavalcade of street performers, musicians and tourists toting frozen neon drinks in plastic containers. You can’t see the details from here, but you can feel the energy emanating from every side, the pulsing of the Viva Vision light show, the buzz of the crowd.

And then you’re off.

You’re soaring above the spectacular din. You’re not a bird; definitely not a plane. You’re a rider on SlotZilla, the  hulking slot-machine-shaped zipline that towers over the Fremont Street Experience.

At least, you feel like a rider on SlotZilla. In reality, you’re on your couch at home, sampling the zipline experience through Vegas VR, the virtual reality marketing app launched by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) this spring.

“Visitors get overwhelmed by what they should do, or could do, or might want to do,” said Cathy Tull, senior vice president of marketing for the LVCVA. Vegas VR and its 360-degree images, which can be viewed with or without a virtual reality viewer like Google Cardboard, allow visitors to take a digital step inside popular Vegas attractions and experiences and better judge whether to include them in their own itineraries.

“People are doing their research,” Tull added. “This is one more way for them to do their research.”

The LVCVA’s foray into virtual reality 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 destinations. It functioned like a digital walk-through, enabling viewers to tour a hotel, nightclub or restaurant.

“What we found was that people wanted more, and they wanted more experiences,” Tull said.

The LVCVA, together with Vegas-based marketing agency R&R Partners, has rolled out 12 VR experiences, which include a gondola ride through the Venetian serenaded by a gondolier, a Strip flyover with Maverick Helicopters and the onstage view at the Life Is Beautiful festival’s electronic dance music stage.


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