The Rooster team has spent nearly two decades going beyond the call of duty to make things happen for clients in the travel and tourism sector, but even for us, repeatedly riding zipwires when blindfolded was a first.
We never even flinched, promise.
Why? It was part of our first big UK activation for the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA for short) in our mission to educate thrill-seeking Londoners of the adventures to be had in this largely undiscovered Emirate.
Our key asset was the Jebel Jais Flight – the longest zipline in the world, which we announced to great fanfare earlier in the year. The challenge: to put both the destination and attraction in the limelight of the capital.
The idea was to create the world’s first AR / VR zipline where people could see the breath-taking views and experience the physical rush of flying at over 100mph between the peaks of the Hajar Mountains yet without leaving zone 1. Easy.
However, it wasn’t until we heard that Zip Now London – a seasonal pop-up zipline a few minutes from Rooster HQ - would be returning to London for the summer that we knew it would be possible.
All we needed to do was capture and edit 360 video from the flight in Ras Al Khaimah, edit it perfectly so the 2.7km ride would transpose onto the 300m line in London, find the right format, tech, user experience, safety procedure, product name, pricing for the experience and deliver massive publicity and the job, as they say, would be a good’un.
Five weeks, a few flights, many hours of desk-based-headset-wearing-motion sickness, a dozen test-runs and product development sessions later and the press were on-site, learning for the first time about Ras Al Khaimah by riding on the world’s first Virtual Reality zipline, where the physical rush of flying on the Zip Now line was complemented with the visuals from Jebel Jais.
Yes plenty of travel brands and destinations have used technologies such as AR, VR and 360 video to show people what another place looks like but (and don’t just take our word for it) we’d built a genuinely thrilling and transportative first-of-its-kind experience that made people feel like they were flying through the Emirati mountains.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the experience was: “Glorious, and utterly unlike anything that is currently available in the virtual reality field.”
Adventure experts Mpora said: “The rush of wind hitting you as you shoot down the London-based wire pairs up nicely with what your eyes are seeing in the Ras Al Khaimah-based headset universe. It makes the whole thing feel more three-dimensional, more authentic, more immersive.”
Leading travel magazine, Lonely Planet, said: “As you step off the steel tower, you’re flying above the desert peaks instead of a central London park. London’s 225m zipline is only a fraction of the 2.83km-long version on top of Jebel Jais, but it’s a good way to get a taste of the adrenaline before heading to the Middle East.”
Despite the challenge of describing and pitching a completely new type of experience, media exposure took flight with 85 pieces of coverage, which drove awareness of the destination far beyond the travel pages. Top pieces included: The Daily Telegraph, LBC, Evening Standard, Metro UK, Yahoo, Engadget, BBC Trending Travel Show, and Tech Radar.
The social impact was also huge, with our comms reaching an audience of 1.8 billion, broadcast content reaching 7.5 million and coverage from the campaign including a dedicated 3-minute interview with CEO of RAKTDA, Haitham Mattar, on LBC.
With visitor numbers and flight bookings continuing to rise for RAK, we delivered a stand-out campaign through using creative technology to create a genuinely compelling experience to reach new audiences in a relevant and memorable way.