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Visit California inspires travel, one visitor at a time.

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Cityscape of Shanghai
AR and VR Offer New Marketing Tactics within the Tourism Industry

By Laurie Haynes
11/7/2018

Advancements in immersive technologies have made virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) increasingly accessible, allowing consumers to connect and interact with brand stories in ways like never before. While VR and AR staked their claim in the tourism industry years ago, their potential remains vastly untapped with considerable momentum to gain.

Understanding the differences between VR and AR can be challenging at first. Clay Bavor, VP Virtual and Augmented Reality of Google, wrote in a Google blog post, “VR can put you anywhere and AR can bring anything to you.”   VR immerses a user inside of a simulated and interactive environment while AR delivers content to the user allowing them to interact with it in real reality.  “VR and AR are more like two points on a spectrum — a spectrum of how much computer-generated imagery gets woven into natural environments,” said Bavor.

California’s travel and tourism industry has led the way in delivering high impact consumer content across a multitude of channels, and immersive technology can bring industry partners to new heights.  AR and VR connects audiences with breathtaking imagery, video and audio in ways that are fresh, entertaining and highly impressionable. DMOs and tourism businesses can deliver truly unforgettable experiences to potential visitors before they book a stay or board a flight.

In commemoration of the 50 year anniversary of Bogle Vineyards in October, the winery launched its new Phantom Wine collection along with an unforgettable AR experience to share its story with consumers in a completely new way.  Fixed within the wine labels of the Phantom Chardonnay and Phantom Red Blend is an experience that not only awakens the senses with imagery and sound, but also nudges at the emotions - all from atop the kitchen counter. 

The story can be unlocked with the Augmented Reality Wine Labels app in the App Store and Google Play. When the user launches the mobile app and points their camera at both the front and back labels, an alluring tale about the phantom plays through the speakers of the device, while vines twist and unravel around the edges of the bottle. At one point, the user even catches a “fleeting glimpse” of the phantom.

“We just want to tell a story in a different way. We want to get the consumer involved and really get them hooked on the mystery and the intrigue of the phantom story,” said Jody Bogle, Director of PR at Bogle Vineyards.

The mobile app can be updated as often as needed allowing for even more stories and special experiences to be shared with target audiences in the future.

“We don’t want it to be a stagnant experience for people. Once they’ve downloaded….we want them to keep looking to learn more stories. The beauty of the augmented reality is being able to update it and keep it fresh, and really keep the consumer engaged,” said Bogle.   

At Visit Ventura, the DMO introduces visitors to stunning attractions and activities throughout the county with 360 videos. With a VR viewer and a mobile device, consumers can experience art and culture, food and beverage, and outdoor adventure -- including a boat ride to the Channel Islands alongside a pod of dolphins -- all in 360 degrees.

According to Visit Ventura, creating a 360 video six minutes in length with a single shot can take around six hours from beginning to end and the processing power involved in stitching it together can often take 2-3 hours for a single video. But by creating a highly immersive and sensory experience for the target audience, Visit Ventura delivers memorable experiences in ways traditional media cannot.

Challenges associated with VR and AR include educating audiences and brand partners in how to appropriately use the technology for the desired experience. Audiences also need equipment such as a smartphone or tablet camera, a mobile app, a VR headset or controllers to experience AR and VR.

Leaders of the tech industry such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, and HTC are working towards bringing AR and VR capability to the masses, and options for VR headsets have expanded in recent years, allowing price points to range from basic to high-end viewers.

This increased accessibility and intrigue of immersive technology has created a blank canvas of opportunity for diversified brand storytelling. AR and VR can be leveraged by DMOs and businesses across the travel and tourism industry, intertwining Golden State experiences and entertainment with an audience’s reality.

India Film Forum
India’s Film Industry: a Booming Opportunity

By Leona Reed
11/2/2018

All eyes are on India as we look to the next booming opportunity market for California tourism. Our big picture strategy for the sizable India market—which is set to grow by double-digits annually for the foreseeable future—includes leveraging the unique relationship between India film industry inclusive of Bollywood and Hollywood.

Aside from the natural parallels of our respective entertainment industries, film and television are the most powerful, far-reaching mediums to generate mass awareness in the world’s second most populous nation of 1.3 billion. By aligning with film production companies to place California in the storyline of future projects, Visit California can ensure that the Golden State has a steady pipeline of promotional vehicles and powerful marketing partners at the ready to get Indians California dreaming.

We planted the seeds for this platform back in November 2017, when a Visit California delegation of CEOs—led by our own President and CEO, Caroline Beteta, and Board Chair, Sima Patel —traveled to India on a business development and research mission. While there, the delegation met with top members of the country’s entertainment industry, including the President and the CEO of the Producers Guild of India. Visit California signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to formalize our intention to work together, with the goal of securing more production in California to ultimately influence travel behavior. Notably, this is the first MOU of its kind from any US state, and created alignment between the world’s true film and TV entertainment capitals.

Collectively, we committed to going back to our respective film commissions to identify existing incentives and brainstorm new offerings specifically for Indian productions. We also promised to support a scouting and business development trip to California for a group of top producers to move the collaboration forward. That trip recently took place, October 21-27, and it symbolized an important next step in creating a solid foundation for this long-term partnership.

We were honored to welcome seven of India’s most influential producers who are responsible for more than 80% of the country’s top grossing films. Led by Sunil Puri, Co-Managing Director of our India office, they immersed themselves in the cinematic side of Greater Los Angeles, including Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and Santa Monica, before driving up the coast on the iconic Pacific Coast Highway with stops in Santa Barbara and Monterey. Their whirlwind tour concluded in San Francisco. Along the way, they got a small taste of the diversity of locations available here and were treated to VIP-style hospitality—just a primer of the type of perks in store for their movie stars and top talent when filming on location in California.

The centerpiece business development program of the producers’ visit was a daylong “California Film Forum” held at Sony Studios in Culver City. In partnership with the California Film Commission, the forum brought a sampling of 10 California destinations together with film professionals—both Californian and Indian—to discuss the opportunities and challenges to bringing Indian productions to California. Board Chair Sima Patel, Visit California’s lead India diplomat, was among the California tourism leadership in attendance.

Caroline Beteta opened the program with a presentation of Visit California’s body of work and vision for the India market—and the role India’s film industry can play. Sima Patel gave a preview of some new activities planned for the India market with Visit California’s expanded investment. California Film Commission’s Executive Director, Amy Lemisch, followed with an in-depth briefing on the ins-and-outs of filming in the Golden State. The producers were very interested in learning more about the California Tax Incentive Program and how to work with local resources, from film permits and visas to working location scouts, unions and set safety requirements.

Those topics were delved into on a deeper level with a panel discussion moderated by Amy Lemisch. Four panelists shared their perspectives on “Navigating Pre-Production and Production in California”: President of Film Liaisons in California Statewide, President of FilmLA, a foreign productions specialist with Bollywood Hollywood and a location manager. All attendees then engaged in a dialogue covering the variety of resources and incentives California destinations could develop to support Indian productions. The 20+ tourism leaders and film commissioners in attendance brainstormed actionable solutions and pilot programs and shared their local insights.

Among the wealth of new learnings on both sides, one key takeaway was that California’s tourism and film industries, together, have a diverse portfolio of incentives to offer film productions and the benefit of doing so is extremely valuable from economic and tourism perspectives. The challenge and opportunity now is placing a value on the non-traditional incentives our industry has to offer so that we can remain competitive on a global scale.

Attendees received a copy of a newly produced Film Producers’ Guide to California that introduced the state’s existing film resources through a tourism lens. Both practical and inspirational, the guide touches on Hollywood history, filming in California, destination spotlights, film tourism marketing case studies and a photo location tour. This guide will be updated for future outreach to the Indian film industry.

Please stay tuned for future developments as this exciting India program’s infrastructure continues to be built out and new opportunities open for industry participation.

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