Otters, Singapore’s favourite wildlife, are making the news again!
Using augmented reality on a web-based platform (WebAR), Buzz AR recently launched WebAR to skyrocket the hospitality industry’s engagement rates through its various AR Avatar campaigns.
Buzz AR is part of the current cohort 3 of the Singapore Tourism Accelerator, organised by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and its appointed corporate innovation partner, F8 Innovation. Buzz AR is Singapore’s first Augmented Reality (AR) startup that has scaled with large enterprises. Existing clients include Fortune 500 companies in China and Singapore. Their flagship solutions provide WebAR (AR Avatar), BuzzCam to drive footfall to businesses. It also provides digital way-finding, gamifies business rewards using an AR Avatar and has its own content creation platform for businesses to track their AR campaign engagement rates for retargeting campaigns. To experience WebAR, simply visit (https://buzzy.buzzar.app) from 24 Dec 2020 onwards.
Adopting a “Digital First” strategy, one of the premium hotel chains in Singapore aims to enhance guests’ experience through digital marketing efforts. Working with STB, the hotel chain has partnered Buzz AR, to bring its AR Avatar to life. PlanB is an initiative that works at developing solutions to future-proof the travel and tourism industry, and help tourism companies thrive amidst the challenges brought by COVID-19.
The hospitality industry is one of the most impacted industries during the COVID-19 pandemic. We created this WebAR campaign to help the most affected industry players to navigate this crisis by creating AR Avatars that help humanise brands and businesses. We are thrilled to launch Singapore’s first WebAR for the hospitality industry, without app installation or any kind of registration. It requires just a mobile phone and your default browser. 2020 is the year that WebAR has become available on virtually every up-to-date web browser in the world.” said Ms. Bell Beh, Co-Founder and CEO of Buzz AR.
“That said, AR technologies itself have dominated in Silicon Valley since a few years ago, when I was completing the Master’s program as a UC Berkeley scholar. People started to walk into retail stores and hotel chains in San Francisco, expecting AR”, said Ms. Beh. Apart from the WebAR experience, Buzz AR leverages on Big Data capabilities to drive and generate user-centric consented data through Buzz Analytics, a tool given to businesses to track their engagement level. It helps in running re-targeting campaigns to not only increase brand identity but also increase the operating revenue of businesses in the long run.
HUMANISING BUSINESSES THROUGH AR
“As a society, we are facing a generational crisis and it is crucial to remind businesses that there is a Plan B, for us it is AR Buzzy, what about you? “said Ms. Beh. The Buzz AR team is equipped with decades of gaming and digital marketing experience, with vast experience since the early days of the internet. The technical team built their work from web, app, virtual reality to augmented reality games and is currently working to share their know-how with enterprises in the hospitality industry. Through WebAR, people could get in touch with brands, businesses, from home, or in a physical space. Buzzy was designed to be a joyful, earnest, expressive, and lovable otter. By humanising an AR Avatar that mirrors a 2D mascot for a hotel chain, the Buzz AR team successfully made their brand as Singapore’s first AR company, which creates highly engaging avatars for different businesses. For that reason, through this Christmas season, the team created the PlanB initiative, with the first avatar called “Buzzy” to start engaging with more people around the world, especially within the indoor space as people are staying home to enjoy their Christmas meals, and delighting users with a basketball player avatar “Buzzy” that acts like a human.
3 BENEFITS OF AN AR AVATAR
To dig a little deeper, here are 3 examples of how AR Avatar can benefit your business.
1. Increase Brand Engagement From Anywhere You Are
Through COVID-19, we noticed that many on-site businesses offer great offers in their physical space. However, many have yet to successfully create a smooth experience when transitioning from online to offline (o2o). Via WebAR, if your goal is to entice more people to turn up at a physical space through o2o engagements, one of the most important elements is to create a lovely brand and start engaging people from anywhere they are, including when they are at home.
A trustworthy brand has a history of being engaging, friendly, and is also relatable yet authoritative. A majority of customers tend to be loyal to brands that offer accountability and social proof — e.g. brands that can demonstrate that other customers can like and trust them, these customers will be more willing to become their brand advocates. Building this kind of loyalty does not happen overnight. It takes time and strategy, but having a brand avatar can help. As the embodiment of your brand, an AR avatar can exhibit all of the above qualities in a way that people can quickly relate to.
2. Build A Narrative
Your brand narrative exists whether you like it or not. Instead of remaining static, a brand avatar can easily move between contexts (e.g. from print to a 3D dancing mascot with music and sound effect), adapt their appearance and speech, echoing your business’s directional changes and users can interact with it. Leveraging on AR consented data, businesses can build a better narrative (e.g. an AR Gamification which covers the family tree of AR Avatar) to continuously engage with the customers. And who is better to tell this story than your brand avatar? Storytelling is and always will be one of the best ways to connect with people. As the representative of your business, an AR avatar can deliver your narrative in a way that’s creative, unique and exciting — important ingredients to portray an amazing story.
3. Humanise Your Brand
If your brand were a person or character, what would their name be? How would they dress? What would they like and dislike? How would they speak? Would they be cheerful and quirky, or down-to-earth and casual? Questions like these will help you imagine a personality for your brand’s avatar. This is important, the more human your avatar is, the more people will be able to connect and trust your brand.
The PlanB initiative featuring “Buzzy” is how we turn a static 2D image into an avatar with an interesting backstory. More importantly, as the Christmas season approaches, the team completed the requisite work in just 2 weeks, to serve as one of the showcases. “I’m immensely proud and thankful to our team for the relentless efforts behind PlanB. We aim to bring more AR Avatars to life to delight users, create many more humanised and lovely avatars that can skyrocket businesses to greater heights. We rolled out PlanB despite all the limitations and challenges to accelerate the AR technologies to the mass public. Technologies are evolving every day, but more people and businesses need to know about their options, their PlanB, during this generational global crisis. We have made WebAR affordable, so more businesses can start adopting this technology to enjoy all its benefits”, Ms. Beh said.
With 3 billion phones being AR compatible in 2020, we are ready to scale the AR and Big Data technologies with STB and industry partners to accelerate WebAR adoption regionally. To celebrate the arrival of these cutting edge technologies, this Christmas we are introducing Buzzy to the world, the first AR Avatar, a humanised identity that interacts with all users. The Buzzy game will last for 1 month until 31 January 2021 and a lucky winner will be selected randomly to win an iPhone 12 Pro Max. Our fans, “the Buzz”, are encouraged to post their photos with Buzzy on various social media platform such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok remember to tag @buzzarvr as well. Be it at different tourism spots or simply from home, we want to see them all.
What’s Next For Buzz AR?
Buzzy is just the beginning, there are more AR Avatars to be rolled out in 2021 with its own WebAR animation in the next 12 months to delight users in Singapore and globally. “We started to work with more industry partners in the hospitality space through our participation at the Singapore Tourism Accelerator and our early AR presence in Singapore to truly propel the country forward in its adoption of emerging technologies such as WebAR. We have also started to accept more exciting projects that are coming for 2021,” Ms. Beh explained.
“Amidst all the hurdles, challenges, I remember vividly why I started Buzz AR and left a comfortable corporate counsel job. My personal mission is to deliver happiness to everyone. This generational crisis has brought a lot of distress, tension and separation to many people. If we were to have another round of Circuit Breaker, Buzzy will be here to accompany you. The reason we chose WebAR over other mobile apps is that we want it to be user-centric and accessible everywhere as long as you have a smartphone with you. Anyone can enjoy WebAR, designed to resemble a simple game, a computational image overlays in your real-world environment, but ultimately delivers happiness to everyone.” Ms. Beh said.
About Buzz AR
Buzz AR, is one of the startups in STB’s Tourism Accelerator, an initiative that works at developing solutions to future-proof the travel and tourism industry and help tourism companies thrive amidst the challenges brought about by COVID-19. The company has undergone J curve growth amidst the COVID-19 hit, with 318% growth in revenues over the past 6 months. It combines AR with Big Data capabilities to engage with users so businesses can better serve their guests with targeted campaigns.
For more information, please visit Buzz AR’s website.