BizBash - Design 2018 - 24

didn't quite understand that they would still be getting ocean views," she says.
Beyond being informative, interactive virtual
tours can make a big impression on prospective
planners, too. Ashley Forrester, corporate director of
communications and marketing for Events DC, uses
Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift headsets to show
the interior and exterior of the Walter E. Washington
Convention Center and other venues, along with an
up-close-and-personal look into various events held
there. "By unveiling a fully immersive virtual reality experience, Events DC is continuing to deliver
amazing customer experiences to drive technology
throughout all of its venues as well as showcase
Washington, D.C., as the innovation capital," she says.

Saving Planners Time

Obviously, for event planners located in another city,
interactive virtual tours are incredibly helpful. Melissa
Assencoa, director of sales at the New York event venue Helen Mills, invites her prospective clients from all
over the world to hop on a virtual tour as soon as possible. "People will have a few questions and then I'll
say, 'By any chance are you by a computer?' and likely
they'll say yes. Then I'll just send them the virtual tour
link and I'll walk them through it. It's so much easier
rather than having 18 emails back and forth," she says.
"They can also zoom into the finer details,"
Assencoa adds. "If I have a corporate client who needs
to take a look at the kitchen, that's fantastic. Instead
of just having the photos, they can really zoom in and

Working Around the
Limitations

Assencoa is still surprised
when she books Helen
Mills for events with only a
virtual site visit. "To be able
to do that is the new wave
of event planning. It's only
going to get better from

Helen Mills

here, which is great," she says.
While this technology keeps improving, Narvaez
at Hilton Waikiki Beach found a workaround for one
limitation. "The lens that we used is a fish-eye lens.
When we're out on our balcony in our guest room, it
makes the ocean look further out than it actually is
because of that lens," she says. A video is now integrated into the virtual tour to help give a more accurate depiction of the view.
There is, of course, another big difference between a virtual tour and real tour: "You don't get the
sights, and the sounds, and the smells," Narvaez says.
The Atlanta Marriott Marquis is trying to work around
that one too: customers receive a shipment of caramel bacon popcorn and candied pecans straight from
the hotel's kitchen to snack on during the virtual tour
for another layer of immersion.

photos: courtesy of venues (all)

Orange County
Convention
Center

then they can use the tool when they want to bring
in a caterer."
Virtual tours are also a powerful tool after an
event is on the books. Orange County Convention
Center's director of sales Rodney Gutierrez helps
planners create custom space layouts for their events
using an app powered by SketchUp. "They receive the
interactive floor plan with their proposal letter so
they're able to see and take a walk around on their
own time in the convention center," he said.
At the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, the team originally envisioned the virtual tour as a sales tool, but
it's now used by the hotel's event managers, too.
"Our customers were flying down sometimes two to
three times prior to their meeting to walk the space
again," Lang said. "We realized how efficient it would
be if that customer didn't have to fly down here for
the meeting. Instead they
could just go on this tour
with our event managers.
Our event managers are
beginning to utilize this
with their customers with
the hopes that maybe we
are saving our customers
time."



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of BizBash - Design 2018

Contents
BizBash - Design 2018 - 1
BizBash - Design 2018 - 2
BizBash - Design 2018 - Contents
BizBash - Design 2018 - 4
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