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Geoff Donaghy

Sydney’s International Convention Centre launches virtual VR tour

Sydney’s International Convention Centre (ICC) has furthered its investment into virtual reality (VR) with the launch of a VR experience that will allow businesses, travellers, and event organisers to virtually scout out the venue through an app.

Through a mobile VR headset, users are able to download the app and begin navigating the venue, including its 35,000 square metres of exhibition space and meeting rooms.

During the interactive tour, users will also be able to explore the ICC’s grand ballroom, as well as the venue’s numerous theatres, lower exhibition halls and a balcony view overlooking Darling Harbour.

The VR experience was constructed using 360 video, with desktop users able to view still 360 degree images of the tour on the ICC website.

Geoff Donaghy, ICC Sydney’s CEO, said the VR experience was developed as part of the venue’s “innovation”-based marketing efforts, which look to utilise technology to help attract visitors and customers.

“The new VR experience helps clients get to know the venue and will help us reach our target of running 1,000 events annually by our third year of operation. We are already rapidly reaching this target, and will hit 1,000 bookings for the venue this month,” said Donaghy.

“The application is backed by new online assets which highlight ICC Sydney as one of the most attractive events destinations in the world, and a venue that is helping to power the local visitor and knowledge economies.”

Part of the NSW government’s $3.4 billion plan to revitalise Darling Harbour, the ICC Sydney was redeveloped to help boost corporate and international interest in the area, with the renovation of the venue totalling $1.5 billion.

Joining the content on the VR app is a 360 video showcasing the space, which was developed in partnership with Tourism Australia.

Speaking about the partnership, Tourism Australia’s managing director John O’Sullivan said that both companies looked to VR as a key tool in drawing interest to the venue.

“VR is becoming an influential touchpoint for consumers, giving them an immersive sense of what the destination has to offer in the critical consideration and booking phase of their travel plans,” he said.

“For a world class facility like ICC Sydney, harnessing the power of VR to push itself into the consideration set is a great example of the venue’s innovative approach to creating event success.”

Tourism Australia’s work with the technology follows the organisation releasing a report into potential of VR in destination marketing.

Describing the technology as “one of the most exciting innovations in tourism marketing”, the report found that VR experiences have the ability to draw travellers to locations that they typically wouldn’t consider.

Approximately one-fifth of consumers have used VR to help them select a holiday destination, according to the report, with 25 percent planning to use the technology in future to assist in finding the ideal travel destination.

Donaghy added that the ICC believes the VR experience will become the central “point of reference” for anyone planning an event at the venue.

“It’s an impressive tool that we believe will help shape the future of events in Sydney,” he said.

Leveraging VR to help reach customers regionally, earlier this year saw IKEA Australia announce the launch of the IKEA Virtual Reality store.

Designed to enhance a customer’s online shopping experience, the VR experience allows users to complete a digital ‘walkthrough’ of an IKEA store while browsing products. Customers are able to purchase items they select, which can then be picked up at one of 10 collection points around Australia.

Image: Geoff Donaghy. Source: Exhibit City News.