One of my main projects was observe the prototypes for The Wild Atlantic Way’s new Virtual Reality project. The Wild Atlantic Way consist of 2,500km of coastal road. The coast contains six regions: Northern Headlands, The Surf Coast, The Bay Coast, The Cliff Coast, Southern Peninsula and The Haven Coast. The Wild Atlantic Way is one of three experience brands, the other two are Irelands Ancient East and Dublin. The Wild Atlantic way is unique, because it has an unforgettable atmosphere and sensationalscenery. The Wild Atlantic Way is operated by Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority. Fáitle Ireland has high expectations for the Wild Atlantic Way, which is why a special budget and a special team has been organize to manage the branding, marketing and promotion for this tourist destination. Tourism generates one of the largest forms of revenue for Ireland. On the WAW team, the target includes the domestic market searching for weekend or holiday plans. I was placed on the WAW team with one objective. My goal was to increase visitors and revenue contribution. WAW uses traditional channels: TV, print, radio and outdoor (billboard) along with Digital Channels: mobile, website, social, digital advertising and search marketing.
In our first meeting, we discussed the objectives of the Virtual Reality Launch.
- Build equity within the brand
- Build brand awareness throughout Ireland
- Encourage businesses to extend holiday hours
- Encourage tourist to travel North up the WAW
The WAW team has invested thousands of dollars to launch a unique virtual reality series. The puporse of the Virtual Reality Videos is to promote the beauty and activities on the WAW. Fáilte Ireland will be integrating the VR technologies across the Tourist Office network, subsequently making them available to the tourism trade. In the following meeting, I was given the opportunity to learn more about the basics of Virtual Reality and how the WAW will be using it. Besides the literal definition “virtual” and “reality” if someone has never experienced using a virtual reality headset a person couldn’t imagine what’s in store when you place the goggles over your eyes. Virtual reality is successful because it utilizes the most sensitive senses, sight and hearing.
The computer-generated environment is three dimensional and a 360-degree view. Virtual Reality videos 360 videos gives the viewer a sense of presence and a generous feeling of immersion and realism. The Wild Atlantic Way has developed five VR videos that I could view: Horse riding on Streedagh Beach, Mountain biking the Burren, Tow-in Surfing, Cliffs of Moher, Climbing sea stacks in Donegal and WAW behind the Scenes. These videos were my first experience with VR. My favorite video was the Cliffs of Moher. The noise cancelling headphones have an immense effect on the realism of the video. I then put on the googles and I lost all perceptions of reality, I was no longer in an office room. I was climbing the steps to the Cliffs of Moher and in a moment, I was standing on edge of the Cliff. I could only hear the ocean, the rush of the wind and the squawking of the seagulls. Overall, it was an unforgettable experience and I couldn’t wait to give Failte Ireland my review. I told them that the videos were very well put together. Then, they told me about the crew, equipment and time spent to make the moment come to life. The camera consists of 6 GoPros that are strategically placed together in a spherical shape. They first asked themselves if they wanted the film to be filmed in the perspective of a participant or observer. Vanessa, the lead director on the VR project spoke to me about the countless hours that were spent on the project. She said her and the team hadn’t slept for days while reviewing and re-shooting scenes for the project. I told her my experience and she was happy to see that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a pleasure to be able to get a behind the scenes look at the possibilities of Virtual Reality!