Tourism Australia and Air New Zealand launch Vancouver virtual-reality pop-up gallery

Marketing tactic helps get people to experience what it is like to visit Down Under

Those who put on virtual reality headsets are able to control 360-degree visuals to get a sense of what it would be like to be in Australia

Tourism Australia and Air New Zealand are showing some out-of-the-box thinking in a new promotional campaign that goes beyond traditional print or digital marketing in their efforts to get people to experience life Down Under.

The two organizations are opening a pop-up gallery March 18 and 19 at 89 Smithe Street, near Expo Boulevard, in a space known as Makeshift Spaces because the venue regularly changes for different pop-up operators.

They are encouraging the public to go to and book some of the free, but limited, tickets to visit the gallery on Friday night or Saturday.

Once at the gallery, visitors will be able to try on one of seven virtual reality headsets and then view up to 17 different Australian experiences.

“We filmed around the country, including the Gold Coast, where you can feel like what its like to surf and then soar over the city and see where people are shopping and eating,” said Kristen Malaby, who is marketing and communications manager in the Americas for Tourism Australia.

“You can go to Sydney and do paddle boarding and then sail by the harbour.”

All of the experiences are in Australia.

Air New Zealand is involved because the airline is attempting to change Vancouverites’ thinking that the airline is only of use when going to New Zealand.

“One of the key objectives for us with our partnership with Tourism Austrailia is to educate the pubic that Air New Zealand doesn’t just stop in New Zealand,” said Chris Allison, who is manager of sales and market development in Canada for Air New Zealand.

“We offer customers the opportunity for people to travel through our Auckland hub to one of eight destinations in Australia – seven of which we’re featuring in the virtual reality experience on the weekend.”

He added that those who get tickets to the pop-up gallery can sit in some actual Air New Zealand seats to see how comfortable they are.

Visitors will also be able to sample food, such as shrimp ceviche, as well as flat white coffee, which originated in Australia. Australian wine will also be available to those who are of age.

Air New Zealand launched twice-weekly flights between Vancouver and Auckland in 2007 and has increased that to daily flights during the December and January peak season. The rest of the year the airline flies between three and five flights per week on the Vancouver-to-Auckland route.

All attendees at the virtual-reality pop-up gallery are encouraged to take photos of themselves and then post them on social media with the hashtag #AussieByAirNZ. That will enter them in a draw to win a single free roundtrip flight between Vancouver and Australia on Air New Zealand.

There is not yet any plan to extend the virtual-reality, pop-up galleries to other Canadian cities.