Starwood, Text 100 Explain Their Second Life

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Text 100’s Georg Kolb replied to my earlier post on Second Life and provided the firm’s rationale for setting up shop virtually. Here are excerpts from his comment.

We are [in SL] because we see it as the next stage in the evolution of peer-to-peer media. Second Life is adding a new dimension to this dynamic since it’s in 3-D.

We view it as an emerging new public we need to understand first hand and, based on this experience, advise our clients how/if it can support their business.

We are not in SL to recreate the real world experience. We are there to do things we can’t do elsewhere. And for the time being, we don’t go there to increase customer engagement by quantitative measures, but it is our intention to bring a new dimension to it.

Some of my colleagues are still skeptical, but I’m willing to wait and revisit Text 100 Island in the future before deciding whether or not SL is just “a shiny new toy” used to blind, er, dazzle clients.

Georg has agreed to regroup in a few months. In the meantime he’s realizing that anyone first to a space is going to take a few arrows.

Starwood Hotel is going virtual with a new hotel concept, aloft -despite the fact that avatars do not sleep. Electric Artists is helping design aloft and its CEO, Marc Schiller, discusses “what drives a hotel brand to invest in a virtual world” with PSFK trend lord, Pier Fawkes.

With the virtual aloft project, Starwood is the first company to test the concept of “virtual architecture.” People will be interacting with the hotel experience online in VR which will give Starwood the ability see how people navigate the space before the real hotel opens. Perhaps we can learn from watching how avatars interact within the hotel in Second Life, things that can help make better design decisions in the real world. We think that this concept could revolutionize not only architectural planning but the wider area of brand development.

Of course, for many years architects have created 3D models and done virtual walkthroughs. But no one has made anything like this where real people are from different cities are walking through a virtual 3Dspace in real time using networked immersive environments.

In this manner a virtual brand therefore can help define the real world brand.

We’ll be watching to see if this is the case. In the meantime, these experiments are getting Linden Labs a ton of media coverage. The SL snowball will get much bigger before it melts.

Second Life Idea: Despite my argument for pragmatism in place of incessant, effusive praise for Second Life, I have a great idea for this unreal world. Amanda Chapel needs to join and create Strumpette Island. It’s a natural move and who wouldn’t visit for the first meeting of Media Guerilla’s PR Fight Club? Game On!

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Kevin Dugan is the author of the popular Strategic Public Relations blog. Kevin is Director of Marketing Communications for FRCH Design Worldwide.

Visit Kevin’s blog: Strategic Public Relations.

Starwood, Text 100 Explain Their Second Life
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