The travel and tourism industry has been one of the quickest to embrace virtual reality, and now St. Giles Hotels is giving some of the creative control to its guests to create a 360-degree film.
Today, the hotel chain—which has nine properties in Asia, Australia, Europe and North America—is launching a contest with creative shop Piranha to find the best amateur VR filmmakers.
"We're actually going to be putting prosumer cameras in the hands of hotel guests as well as our own team and social media influencers to actually tell the St. Giles story on the ground in 360," said Rob Sabatini, creative director and co-founder of Piranha.
To enter, consumers can complete a form on St. Giles' website and answer a few questions about themselves like "Are you traveling for business or leisure?" and "Are you on social media?"
Thirty consumers will then win a one-night stay this summer at one of six hotels in New York, London, Sydney, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Manila. Each winner will be given Samsung's new Gear 360 and tasked with shooting buzzy VR video around the city.
The final cut of the VR content will be turned into a digital and social campaign launching in September. The hotel brand is also launching a mobile app so the content can be viewed through a Google Cardboard headset.
Piranha specifically zeroed in on Samsung's small, circle-shaped camera because it's cheaper and more accessible for consumers than Oculus or HTC devices.
"With VR, there's such a focus on the high end with Oculus, but how do we make this technology accessible to the masses?" Sabatini said. "We really tried to find the tone that would help amplify St. Giles' message as well as show how this tech can be used in a commercial landscape—it's not just for the people that have headsets; it's for people on Facebook or YouTube."