How to Virtually Plan an L.A. Event
Virtual Reality (VR) technology is constantly evolving. With the ability to create 360-degree video, VR is now being utilised to help planners organise events. This means the possibilities for planning an event in Los Angeles are greater than ever and the process more practical.
In 2016, the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board launched a VR portal on their Meet L.A. website. The technology built into the portal makes it possible for planners to navigate digitally through many of L.A.’s iconic sites. The website showcases more than 50 venues in immersive VR/360 video, including the Hilton Anaheim, L.A. LIVE, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. There are two dozen videos that show the function spaces inside the L.A. Convention Center alone. In addition, the platform is able to take viewers on a tour of L.A. neighbourhoods. The VR/360 videos give the illusion of a live feed, making the virtual seem tangible.
Xplorit is the company responsible for developing the Meet L.A. VR experience. They had already produced an extensive range of leisure and meeting-themed VR content for other tourism destinations and hotels. Xplorit built the Meet L.A. VR elements, by using the Discover Los Angeles website as a foundation. The website was designed to individualise the city’s many distinctive neighbourhoods, which is what they wanted with the VR tours. To do this, the Xplorit platform utilises Google Earth and features a navigation bar on the left with additional content. This content provides further context around the venue search process as planners move through the portal. They can click on any of Los Angeles Tourism’s neighbourhoods and hotel videos that match the corresponding VR/360 content. Additionally, a Google Maps component highlights each venue as well. Through the VR portal, planners can orient themselves around the city. Thereby gaining a better understanding of where the different communities and major venues are situated in relation to each other.
There is a lot going on inside the Virtual Discovery L.A. framework. Consequently, it does take some time figuring out how to navigate around the cityscape. Videos and maps appear in the upper right corner for viewing while planners navigate through the site. The portal is fairly quick, considering the video file loads. Nonetheless, planners will need to dedicate extended periods of time to fully explore the site and all L.A. has to offer. There is a function to use a VR headset, though not necessary to take full advantage of the site. There is also a bonus benefit to the technology. Since photos only give a two-dimensional view of a venue, VR experiences like Meet L.A, mean less surprises on the day. Event planners can explore venues and show their selections to other stakeholders, without leaving the office.
The VR platform was launched so planners could get comfortable with L.A. and feel that it is more accessible. However, this move is also a ground-breaking move in the event planning industry. As VR/360 technology improves and becomes more accepted, all major tourism bureaus will eventually take advantage of the virtual experience.