In Greek mythology, Atlas was the Titan who stood with one foot in the East and the other in the West holding the sky from the Earth. Big shouldered and square-jawed, Atlas Experiences Founder and CEO Derek Gwaltney embodies the modern-day interpretation of the endurance Atlas stood for. The Georgia-based company Gwaltney founded two years ago is dedicated to creating unique incentive travel programs with integrated digital promotional elements.
His startup strategy is leveraging partnerships and innovations to establish a solid value proposition for their clients in the lottery and gaming industries. Working with creative partners and amazing global destinations is the formula that Atlas uses to create their programs.
Custom & Dynamic Travel Promotional Programs
“The vision for our company is crafting once-in-a-lifetime ‘Dream It’ promotional programs for players,” said Gwaltney. “Molding winning moments with extraordinary travel destinations elevates the experience to a new level. I was convinced there are more opportunities to integrate technology into the winning moments of lottery players and hopefully build the ‘WOW Factor’ into our events.”
Gwaltney fuses his knowledge of the industry with the passion to create great player experiences. “In my 25 years of working in the lottery and gaming industry, I gained a lot of experience and a true love for the industry,” he said. “I learned to appreciate the value of working with great partners, as Atlas has aligned with some of the best in their respected industries.”
Atlas focuses on three pillars of incentives— Large events, individual incentives, and digital innovations. “I wanted to create more digital winning moments and infuse those moments into large events. Working with the creative team at The Famous Group, who have designed fan experiences at some of the largest events such as the NFL Superbowl,” said Gwaltney. “Within minutes of our first meeting the creativity came through with the idea of creating winning augmented reality live activations. That was a starting point to build on and launch my vision for the company.”
One of the touch stones of digital engagement is augmented reality. AR apps help customers virtually try on a new pair of Ray Bans or arborists identify a rare tree species. The Texas Lottery is using augmented reality to promote its Hawaii Dream Getaway promotion. Point a camera at the handy QR code and, snap, you are in an augmented reality adventure with headliner Darius Rucker.
“I was asked to sit in on a board review of an AR company out of France last summer,” recalled Gwaltney. “I quickly thought we could leverage the technology to interact with lottery winners and guests at our events, and by doing so creating memorable and shareable moments. We created custom AR moments with Darius Rucker. It pops up in this interactive experience where Darius promotes the exclusive prize and congratulates the lottery winner, which elevates the player journey.”
Atlas is also flexing its marketing muscle by teaming up with an iconic destination group. “The next partnership we forged is with Club Med,” notes Gwaltney. “With Club Med, we can craft once-in-a-lifetime individual incentive programs that are customizable and one of the three pillars of incentives.”
The key to the Club Med program is “Your Rewards Your Way.” Instead of hundreds of winners getting the same prize, Atlas Experiences has partnered with Club Med to make each prize unique to the winners’ preferences. “Lottery winners select their bucket list destinations from 70+ global Club Med all-inclusive resorts and an Atlas concierge books their trip where and when they want.” explained Gwaltney. “We do the research, give them options for a five-night trip in the timeframe they selected. If the player wants an upgrade to a suite in Cancun, we find them options for the suite. If they prefer Switzerland, maybe the player gets a standard room instead of a suite. We say, ‘Here are your options. Which one is your dream vacation? ‘Your Rewards Your Way’.”
Further enhancing the winning experience is Gwaltney’s concept for an immersive digital experience. “The last pillar of incentives is our digital game show ‘Lucky Pik.’ The vision for Lucky Pik was that final night dinner, where you’re giving away awards and you’re trying to create engagement,” said Gwaltney. “It is a fully produced game show experience. We are looking to do our first virtual program hopefully by the end of 2021 and live in Hawaii late 2022.”
Atlas looks to continue building new relationships with top destinations and premium resorts across North America. “We have been traveling to amazing destinations like the Hawaiian Islands and castles in Ireland,” said Gwaltney. “We look to build something amazing centered around the local area and selected property. The conclusion is lottery promotions can leverage the pent-up [covid] demand for to travel, to drive lottery sales with custom Atlas programs.”
Now is the ideal time to begin planning the next big lottery promotion—not 12 months from now. “Atlas can execute with enough runway in 2022 and 2023 to build confidence and ease concerns,” promised Gwaltney.