How the Creators of Hello Kitty Used InstaVR to Create 360-degree Video Tours of Puroland Theme Park to Increase Ticket Sales
Hello Kitty Tourism/Entertainment Client Overview
Sanrio Puroland, the official Hello Kitty theme park in Tokyo, welcomes over 1.5 million visitors per year. In an effort to increase ticket sales, particularly from tourism groups, they started exploring utilizing Virtual Reality. They selected InstaVR to help author and distribute their Sanrio Puroland VR app — which features immersive 360-degree video tours of the park, including Hello Kitty’s “Miracle Gift Parade” and “Lady Kitty House”.
The results have been phenomenal. Using Gear VR headsets loaded with the app, the sales team at Puroland has been able to generate excitement for booking tours to the park, particularly among travel agents. Sanrio recently published the VR experience to the Google Play and iTunes Stores, meaning individuals globally can now get excited to visit the park.
All of this was made possible by the InstaVR platform. The time and cost savings of using InstaVR allowed the Sanrio Puroland team to have the app ready in time for Sanrio Expo 2017. And through multi-platform publishing, that same Gear VR experience is now able to able to be viewed by anyone with an iPhone or Android-based device.
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Hello Kitty – Overview of Sanrio Puroland Entertainment
Sanrio is a Japanese company that designs, licenses and produces a variety of pop culture characters. Their most popular creation, Hello Kitty, was launched in 1974. The character was immediately successful, and is featured on over 12,000 products per year that generate over $500 Million USD in sales for Sanrio.
In 1990, Sanrio opened Puroland, an indoor Hello Kitty-themed amusement park in the Tama section of Toyko. Featuring four floors and nearly 46,000 square metres of attractions, Puroland welcomes approximately 1.5 million visitors per year. As Hello Kitty’s popularity continues to surge globally, the Puroland Entertainment’s marketing team is tasked with generating awareness of and ticket sales to this unique attraction.
Interest in Using Virtual Reality at Hello Kitty as a Driver of Tourist Visits
A key driver of growth at Puroland Entertainment is group bookings. Hello Kitty, being an iconic global brand, generates a lot of consumer interest both in Japan and worldwide. However, it’s obviously a lot easier to sell a Hello Kitty branded backpack than get a tour group to visit Puroland’s amusement park on the outskirts of Tokyo. The latter requires generating more interest and a higher financial commitment.
Each year, the makers of Hello Kitty hold the Sanrio Expo. This multi-day event, held in Tokyo, brings together thousands of products from Hello Kitty licensees and sees upwards of 10,000 visitors. It’s also an opportunity for Sanrio to invite special guests, such as travel agents, who can help promote the Puroland theme park to potential travelers.
With 2017 being a year of explosive growth in popularity for Virtual Reality, the marketing team at Puroland decided this would the best technology to showcase their amusement park at Sanrio Expo. If their sales team could succeed with VR at Sanrio Expo, they would roll it out more broadly over the course of the year.
Their idea: to create a series of 360-degree immersive guided tours of Puroland, led by Hello Kitty and her friends, to be experienced in VR headsets by influential expo guests such as travel agents.
Selecting InstaVR as a Technology Partner
Before embarking on creating their VR Hello Kitty/Puroland tour, the marketing team needed to select a technology partner to help bring their vision to life. They had a few key requirements driving their decision:
- Ease of use. The Sanrio Expo was rapidly approaching, and the timeline wouldn’t allow for learning a complicated platform. It was important to use a simple, intuitive platform that didn’t require coding.
- Localized language and support. Although the VR app was to appeal to global travel agents, the authoring platform had to be localized into Japanese and accept Japanese characters.
- Publish across VR platforms. Although the initial app would be designed for Gear VR headsets, over time, the plan was to release it on other platforms, including iTunes and Google Play. To accommodate this, the selected technology partner would have to have multi-platform publishing support.
Luckily for the Puroland marketing team, InstaVR checked all the boxes. Being a web-based, drag-and-drop platform made creating VR easy. Besides having a localized Japanese language version of InstaVR, the company also has employees based in Japan who provide full-scale client support. And the platform is designed to publish to all major VR headsets, including new ones as they roll out.
Selecting InstaVR was an obvious choice for the Hello Kitty team. So with a short window prior to Sanrio Expo 2017, they started recording 360-degree video tours of Puroland led by Hello Kitty, Daniel and more characters.
Authoring Hello Kitty’s Purloand Tours Using InstaVR in Under 3 Weeks
Storyboarding/Mockups – Despite a tight deadline, it was imperative as a first step for the Puroland marketing team to storyboard what their VR app would consist of. They decided on a few 360-degree video tours highlighting some of the most beloved features of the park. Included in the final app would be the “Miracle Gift Parade” and the “Lady Kitty House”, with Hello Kitty and her friends acting as tour guides.
Filming – The next step was using a 360-degree camera to actually film these tours.
Authoring Using InstaVR – Authoring using the InstaVR platform was simple. The drag-and-drop, intuitive nature of InstaVR made it so the Puroland marketing team wouldn’t need to do any coding or involve engineers. Authoring was as simple as uploading the media, adding navigation + branding, and publishing to the appropriate platforms.
They started with a 360-degree image as a main menu, with gaze-based navigation allowing users to select which of the video tours they wanted to go on. They updated the branding, including the splash image of the app and icons leading to the video tours. Finally, they ensured that each link would lead to the correct Parade or Lady Kitty House 360 video.
Publishing to Gear VR – For Sanrio Expo, the first public display of the app, the sales team would be loading the video tours onto mobile Gear VR headsets. InstaVR helped streamline the process of publishing to multiple Samsung phones that would be paired with Gear VRs, saving valuable time.
“Due to the high productivity of InstaVR, production of mockups usually taking 2-3 weeks were completed in one week. By being able to mock up at an early stage, we were able to take more time to fill out the details, and we were able to improve the quality.”- Sanrio
Success with Travel Agents at Sanrio Expo
From storyboarding to filming to publishing using InstaVR took the Puroland team less than three weeks. With Sanrio Expo 2017 fast approaching, the sales team at Puroland was eager to see if their first foray into VR would be fruitful. If so, they could expand their VR publishing efforts in an effort to drive more visitors to theme park.
And the results were a resounding success! Travel agents loved the interactive 360-degree tour of Puroland’s theme park. The main feedback on why VR tours were so well-received were:
- Completely immersive. Sanrio Expo was held over an hour away from Puroland, closer to downtown Tokyo. For those not able to visit Puroland, or that had been there before, the Gear VR immersive tours were as close to visiting as you could get. The guided tours by Hello Kitty were met with joy.
- Language independent. One of the great things about VR is it transcends language. Viewers of “Miracle Gift Parade” or “Lady Kitty House” didn’t need to speak Japanese fluently, as the experience was so full of sensory experiences — both sight and sound.
- Memorable. The sales team at Puroland needed to make a lasting impression on travel agents, who have to vividly describe the theme park when getting tourists to book travel. VR is a memorable, impactful technology, and the InstaVR-generated tours did just that.
Expanding Audience by Posting to iTunes & Google Play
With positive feedback and proof of Sanrio Puroland VR as a sales tool, the Hello Kitty team followed through on their plan to release their app more broadly. With InstaVR’s “write once, publish to many” approach, this took very little time.
In December, Sanrio Puroland published to iOS and Android their amusement park tours, submitting them to the two largest app stores — iTunes and Google Play. The apps can now be downloaded easily globally, and viewed either with or without a VR headset.
The experience of Sanrio Puroland with InstaVR was nothing but positive. Expectations were exceeded.
“As for the final cost and delivery time, production was completed at half of our initial cost estimate, and actual delivery date was realized in 3 weeks, from beginning filming to app delivery.” – Sanrio
To download Sanrio Puroland VR from iTunes, click here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sanrio-puroland-vr/id1304852445?mt=8
To download Sanrio Puroland VR from Google Play, click here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sanrioentertaiment.SanrioPurolandVR&hl=en