Are metaverse holidays virtual insanity?
Emilie Dumont, Managing Director of Digitrips Group – one of whose several B2B travel brands includes France’s leading OTA Misterfly – says:
“Thinking that the metaverse is not relevant to travel would be like dismissing the internet for the same reason in 1997. Whilst this is unlikely to ever be – in our lifetimes at least – an alternative to actually travelling as it can’t imitate real world experiences like taste and smell, nor to my opinion replace real human meetings, there are nonetheless many applications for its use that could be highly relevant to us.
“Any ‘virtual holidays’ in the metaverse are going to be very long way off, if never”
– Wolfgang Emperger
“Certainly, at the inspiration stage of a booking, the metaverse is going to be very influential. But there’s so many other potential applications, for example, airlines are looking at how to give passengers headsets to make their journey more pleasant by seeming like they’re in a bigger space. We’re just at the beginning of this.”
Whilst Alex Barros, Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer from revenue manager Beonprice, adds: “Whether you are an intermediary or supplier selling on your dot com, the metaverse will quickly become not only another point of sale, but a point sale on steroids. It goes way beyond ‘let me show you some pictures’ or ‘here’s a video’. Imagine allowing a potential client to not only to inspect every aspect of a hotel room from every angle, visit the destination connecting it to the hotel and the surrounding areas, or look at experiences (like a boat that can be hired and visited virtually), but also to test the bed or have a look in the mini-bar?
“Customer service could be enhanced too along with staff training. Want to see what’s on the menu? You literally can, perhaps in real time so that nothing that has run out is offered by mistake or you can pick which of the two steak cuts they have left you’d prefer. Or maybe you can’t work out how the shower works in your room? In steps an augmented reality bellboy to show you how. It also makes ‘the manager’ much more accessible for a (virtual) face-to-face chat.
“All of this presents the opportunity for sellers to cross-sell clients a much wider range of ancillary services and even upsell higher classes of rooms or fares too. It also means you can know a lot more about the potential client too, as you are able to see what they are looking at and inspecting, allowing you to better guess their level of interest transforming the purchasing experience into something specific, emotional and authentic. This means enabling hotels to capture value and even revenue manage rooms by attributes, allowing them to adjust prices or the offering accordingly in a way that’s hard currently online.
“Immersive technologies will be bridging the Web2 world into the Web3, making it possible for hotels to tokenize rooms and experiences, giving hotels a chance to capture profits in an exponential way. For example, by creating a metaverse shop, they could have luxury boutiques selling to their guests high-end products with huge margins. This gives hotels greater direct access to the share of wallet of guests.”
Finally, Wolfgang Emperger, Senior Vice President Europe, Africa and UK & Ireland at Shiji Group, the leading provider of technology to the hospitality sector, comments:
“Any ‘virtual holidays’ in the metaverse are going to be very long way off, if never. It is surprising to find out that the metaverse everyone is talking about in the media –Decentraland – isn’t a virtual reality version yet. In fact, it doesn’t even have a mobile or tablet version, it is desktop only still.
“But there are nonetheless some very real holiday related experiences already happening in the metaverse right now. Want to see what a destination looks like? There’s an App called Wander that lets you, well, wander through Google Maps Street View. That’s not a bad way for someone to experience a destination and in time it could be enhanced.
“Meanwhile some hotels are putting themselves in the Metaverse too. For example, Riu’s flagship hotel in the Plaza de España in Madrid can be experienced virtually. Virtual conferences and meetings are taking place already too.“The potential is enormous, imagine doing your check-in for your hotel whilst you’re still arriving on the plane or speaking with the concierge about what you can do in the location once you arrive – only for them to open up a portal for you to see the product in person, within the Metaverse.”