Gila River Resorts & Casino Training

Case Study: A New Dimension of Onboarding with Gila River and Point in Time Studios


It’s a Hollywood-style revolution in the heart of Arizona’s gaming world. The collaboration between Point in Time Studios and Gila River Resorts & Casinos has set a new standard for engaging, immersive, and truly inspiring onboarding experiences. For the Gila River HR team, the transition from conventional PowerPoint presentations to a virtual reality (VR)-infused onboarding journey has been a leap of faith with blockbuster results.

A Seamless Collaboration

When the Gila River team envisioned a fresh, more engaging approach to welcoming new hires, Point in Time was their partner of choice. Throughout the process, communication was consistently open and effective, bridging the gap between idea and execution. According to Manuel Robinson, Human Resources Program Specialist at Gila River, “The Point in Time team was literally there every step of the way.”

The Hollywood Experience

Embodying the spirit of adaptability and creativity, Point in Time not only responded to Gila River’s needs but also adapted to the challenges that arose during production. They met the 24/7 operational demands of a gaming floor, coordinated around team members’ availability, and even pivoted to create an artful solution when initial filming plans fell through.

Elevating Onboarding with VR

But it wasn’t just about replacing PowerPoint slides with VR. The impact was far more profound: it built a unified team and family culture across multiple locations. With VR, new hires could experience each property, building a sense of collective identity that might not have emerged otherwise. Robinson said this immersive approach amplified the “wow factor” and made the onboarding process significantly more engaging and memorable.

Innovations and Challenges

Incorporating live-action VR scenes with multiple hosts was a logistical challenge but was managed effectively by Point in Time. They deftly navigated the constraints of filming in a live, functioning resort and casino. The addition of subtitles increased accessibility, earning positive feedback from the team.

The creative decision to use a computer-generated art gallery for Module 2 was a unique move that highlighted the rich history of the Gila River Indian Community. The blend of 2D and 3D visuals added depth to the overall learning experience, offering a multidimensional exploration of the organization and its values.

Amplifying Efficiency and Cost Savings with VR

Harnessing VR has led to significant cost efficiencies in Gila River’s onboarding process. Consider the logistics of traditional onboarding: in order for new hires to gain firsthand knowledge of all three casinos, they would need to physically visit each location, resulting in substantial travel, time, and operational costs. But with VR, new hires can virtually tour all three casinos from a single location, gaining immersive insights without the additional costs.

ROI and Long-Term Investment Benefits

The decision to invest in a VR-based onboarding program reflects a long-term vision for productivity and efficiency. While the upfront investment might seem significant, the return on investment (ROI) quickly becomes apparent when considering the ongoing savings in travel, time, and staffing costs. The immersive VR experience leads to a more engaging and effective learning environment, likely resulting in higher employee retention and job satisfaction. This contributes to lower recruitment costs and enhanced company performance. The case of Gila River and Point in Time illustrates how forward-thinking investments in technology can yield substantial dividends. Both in terms of financial returns and team cohesion.

The Future of Onboarding at Gila River

While there are no immediate plans to incorporate features like spatial audio, Robinson said that Gila River is eager to explore more dynamic filming techniques, including movement and point-of-view (POV) perspectives. Potential future projects might include guest service training scenarios, adding a whole new level of immersive experience for team members.


The collaboration between Point in Time and Gila River has proved to be a transformative experience, setting a new bar for onboarding programs. The VR project has not only provided an effective training tool but has also succeeded in fostering a strong team and family culture from day one. As Gila River and Point in Time continue their partnership, the possibilities for VR in the world of onboarding and training appear boundless.

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