Visitors to the shopping centre can step from a winter log cabin in the shopping centre to a virtual reality winter wonderland where they can decorate a Christmas tree and share their creations with friends and family online.
Intu is piloting the experience, which launched last week, until 21st December as it looks to roll-out virtual reality experiences across its 15 centres nationwide next year. The pilot will examine the impact of VR leisure experiences on dwell time, customer loyalty and the shopping experience alongside other leisure activities in shopping centres such as a trip to the cinema or meals out.
Karen Harris, managing director of Intu’s digital innovation team said: "This kind of social and interactive experience could become as commonplace for shoppers as stopping for a coffee with friends. It is providing a real moment of surprise and delight for customers in Nottingham which is likely to increase dwell time in the centre over Christmas and propensity to revisit to the benefit of our retailers.
"Virtual reality and its uses within the modern world has attracted a huge amount of public interest so as part of Intu’s digital strategy we wanted to test its benefits within a real shopping environment and learn from our findings."
The Christmas VR experience uses HTC Vive and features 360° absolute motion tracking and two wireless controllers. Jon Goddard, European marketing director, VR at HTC said: "Providing the opportunity for the public to try quality VR as part of a shopping experience is key to drive awareness and buy in, and the creation of custom made 360° room-scale content is a real first for HTC within a retail environment. We believe this is a great introduction to HTC Vive for all the family, and look forward to bringing the experience to shoppers this Christmas."
The Christmas VR experience is just one in a series of programmes and trials Intu has run this year as part of its digital strategy. The shopping centre owner worked with the National Autistic Society in the summer to host a virtual reality experience that gave shoppers the perspective of an autistic child and is piloting an augmented reality experience for families at its Santa’s grotto in Intu Trafford Centre.
HTC recently announced the launch of Vive Studios, with the aim of developing virtual reality (VR) games and experiences.
Bread brand Hovis ran a three-day sampling activation at shopping centre Intu Lakeside in October, to mark its ongoing partnership with DreamWorks Animation's latest feature film, Trolls.
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