Expedia.com®, one of the world's largest full service online travel sites*, launched a first-of-its-kind, immersive virtual reality (VR) campaign in March 2016 to raise awareness and drive donations for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Expedia leveraged VR technology to capture the dream adventures of four special kids fighting cancer at St. Jude, and brought an incredible travel experience directly to their hospital in Memphis.
As a long-standing partner of St. Jude, the "Expedia Dream Adventures" campaign supports Expedia's commitment to leveraging its global reach to benefit the institution. Individual contributors primarily cover the $2.2 million daily operating cost for St. Jude. Thanks to generous supporters and the dedication of partners like Expedia, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food –because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.
The campaign also supports the Expedia mission, which is to bring the power of travel to as many people around the world as possible.
Expedia asked four kids at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis to share the travel adventure of their dreams. These ranged from playing with monkeys and running with horses to digging for dinosaurs and swimming in the sea.
Working alongside 180LA, Expedia dispatched a team of employees, each armed with a 360° camera and live-streaming technology, to Argentina, Miami and Playa del Carmen, Mexico. In order to create a truly immersive travel experience that made each child feel transported from their hospital room, the team projected live, 360o footage on the walls, floor and ceiling of a four-wall virtual reality installation at the hospital, bringing their travel dreams to life.
Each child was completely surrounded by beautiful imagery, and fully enveloped in their dream experience. The installation "transported" the children to Cordoba and Talampaya Park in Argentina, Monkey Jungle in Florida and the Great Maya Reef in Mexico. Through technology, the children experienced the locations' natural wonders – from fossils to colorful sea-life to wily monkeys – in real time. Expedia employees whose own lives have been affected by serious illnesses were on location as personal tour guides to show the kids the sites.
By leveraging innovative technology, Expedia was able to bring truly unique travel experiences to the kids of St. Jude. Each child was able to explore, direct the actions of the on-site trekker and immerse themselves in the virtual travel adventure. This also marked the first time that 360o filming, projection mapping and live streaming technology were used together.
ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital®, awarded Expedia.com the "Spirit of St. Jude Award for Innovation" honor in recognition of the "Expedia Dream Adventures campaign." Every year the ALSAC/St. Jude Boards of Directors and Governors honors outstanding volunteers, donors, organizations and corporate partners from across the country for their support and commitment to the lifesaving mission of St. Jude.
Expedia is also continuing to leverage the campaign to encourage customers to donate their Expedia+ points directly to the hospital. Expedia+ rewards program confers points to travelers based on each flight, hotel, car or activity they book across Expedia. Typically, Expedia+ points can be redeemed for travel. Now, Expedia+ points can be converted to a monetary value.
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