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May 3, 2016: Why More Businesses Are Using Snapchat Geofilters for Events, The New York Times Announces Virtual Reality Plans at NewFronts, Australian Music Festivals Might Enforce Pill Testing

1. WHY MORE BUSINESSES ARE USING SNAPCHAT GEOFILTERS FOR EVENTS: Ever since Snapchat introduced its on-demand geofilter service in February—allowing its users create custom content for live gatherings including birthdays, office parties, and weddings—individuals and businesses are willing to pay more than $1,000 to create a temporary, personalized filter for their events. Snapchat revealed that 60 percent of geofilter submissions come from businesses. The Guardian: “‘Snapchat would be the first social media company that has developed a profit center that is really intended to scale through lots of individual users, rather than selling services or products to companies,’ said Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute. Webb notes the paid filter trend comes from Purikura, which were photo sticker booths with personal filters made popular in Japan about 15 to 20 years ago. Snapchat confirmed that weddings, events and local business ads are the most popular on-demand geofilters so far. The popularity of the service comes at a crucial moment for the company. Its latest valuation from a recent funding round put it as a $16bn company, the same figure it was valued at in May 2015, and came after some investors had cut their predictions for the company’s until now phenomenal growth.”

2. THE NEW YORK TIMES ANNOUNCES VIRTUAL REALITY PLANS AT NEWFRONTS: As The New York Times becomes increasingly focused on visual storytelling, the media company used its NewFront presentation on Tuesday to show off new virtual reality offerings it will launch in the coming year. Aside from its mobile app, the Times plans to partner with several virtual reality platforms for new series and experiences. Adweek: "New VR videos slated for 2016 will include a recreation of famous Olympics stadiums and a look at climate change in Antarctica, while a new all-VR series will be comprised of clips that place the viewer in 'relaxing environments.' VR will also play a part in most of the six new 'interactive series' announced by the Times this morning. Those include 'The Fine Line,' which will spotlight some of this year's top Olympic contenders and use tools like motion capture to explain their success; 'The Art of Better,' which focuses on the science of productivity; 'Two Tales of a City,' featuring two travel writers visiting the same city on different budgets; 'The Inside Track,' which visualizes how hit songs are made; 'Chartland,' which uses charts to discuss topical issues; and 'Out There,' a series about space exploration."

3. AUSTRALIAN MUSIC FESTIVALS MIGHT ENFORCE PILL TESTING: Music festivals in Australia may begin pill testing attendees as early as this summer. The president of Australian Drug Enforcement Alex Wodak and physician David Caldicott plan to start trials at Sydney festivals without government approval. Billboard: "The project—which would test pills to identify what substances are contained within—is currently labeled as illegal, but Dr. Calidcott said that they are seeing progress and are meeting with trial organizers and police, along with gaining more support from senior police and politicians. … The discussion of pill testing at festivals has gained momentum with continuous reports of drug-related deaths and overdoses, along with outcry against the police's controversial sniffer dog operations. Some have criticized that testing encourages drug use at festivals, while others, like Dr. Caldicott, see it as a feature that could help prevent fatal overdoses."


The International Special Events Society has announced it will change its name to the International Live Events Association. The organization will globally rebrand over the next several months.


BOSTON:  American bistro Cook in Newton will host its next "Cook for Charity" celebrity chef series event on June 15. The celebrity chef will be Jen Royle, a former sports reporter and owner of Boston-based private chef and catering company Dare To Taste.

CHICAGO:  The second annual Dog Dayz of Summer, a sausage festival presented by Hot Doug's and Goose Island Beer Company, will take place June 24-25 at Goose Island Barrel Warehouse. The festival will be produced by Criterion Productions, and ticket proceeds will benefit the Intonation Music Workshop.

LAS VEGAS:  BarMasa and Tetsu Teppan Grill at Aria Resort & Casino will close on July 31. The hotel plans to announce a new concept for the space in the coming weeks.

The third annual Coach Woodson Las Vegas Invitational, hosted by assistant Clippers coach Michael Woodson, is slated for July 8-11 in Las Vegas.

LOS ANGELES:  The eighth annual Echo Park Craft Fair will take place Saturday and Sunday at Mark Sennett Studios in Silver Lake.

The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board announced that Los Angeles County’s record-breaking 45.6 million visitors added more than $20.6 billion into the local economy in 2015. According to a statewide report released by Visit California, tourism in L.A. County is the largest contributor of direct visitor spend in the Southern California region and all of California, contributing more than 21 percent of the state’s overall direct spend total.

For information on upcoming events in Los Angeles, visit Masterplanner:

NEW YORK:  Tony Award winner Nikki M. James and Girls actor Andrew Rannells will announce the nominations for the 70th annual Tony Awards on Tuesday. The announcement will air live on CBS from the Diamond Horseshoe at the Paramount Hotel.

Catering company Great Performances will partner with Feeding the 5000 NYC—an environmental campaign that aims to end food waste—to host a free feast sourced from produce that would have been discarded. The meal will take place May 10 in Union Square Park's North Plaza. 

The New Yorker will host its first tech conference, TechFest, on October 7 at Cedar Lake. Speakers will include the magazine's editor, David Remnick; Netflix C.E.O. Reed Hastings; and Tinder C.E.O. Sean Rad.

For information on upcoming events in New York, visit Masterplanner:

ORLANDO/CENTRAL FLORIDA:  Universal Orlando has completed the renovation of all 1,000 guest rooms at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. The updated rooms have a color palette of sandy neutrals with accents of turquoise and tangerine. The resort will connect to the new Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, scheduled to open this summer, to form the new Loews Meeting Complex with 250,000 square feet of multifunction space.

The Orlando Eye celebrates its one-year anniversary all this week with special events including random prize drawings for guests offering complimentary tickets, merchandise, and gift cards to I-Drive 360 retailers and restaurants.

SAN FRANCISCO:  The seventh annual J-Pop Summit Festival—a celebration of Japanese pop culture with music, food, and fashion—will take place July 22-24 at Fort Mason Center, New People Cinema, Union Square, and Castro Theatre.

TORONTO:  This year's international documentary film festival Hot Docs runs through Sunday. More than 200 films will be shown at venues including Isabel Bader Theatre, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, and Fox Theatre.

WASHINGTON, D.C.:  The third annual Alzheimer’s Association Brain Ball will take place Friday at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium. More than 700 people are expected to attend the sold-out event.

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With contributions from Jenny Berg in Chicago, Alesandra Dubin and Claire Hoffman in Los Angeles, Mitra Sorrells in Orlando, and Beth Kormanik, Michele Laufik, Jill Menze, and Ian Zelaya in New York.

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