In my previous article I introduced some of the increasingly popular trends in travel technology. You could get insight into virtual and augmented reality as possible solutions to increase sales and guest experience in your hotel. It might be difficult for many to believe, but these are still technologies in their infancy. There are signs that the metaverse will soon be much more widespread and will be part of our everyday reality, and thus of our travels.
The metaverse recently became a widely debated topic when Facebook (Meta) released its own version, Metaverse. However, the concept of the metaverse is far from new, in fact, it was first mentioned more than 30 years ago.
What is metaverse?
A metaverse can be defined as a network of connected digital spaces. In these virtual spaces (or worlds), users’ personal avatars can interact with each other. But do not think that the metaverse is limited to virtual reality: it allows you to reach out to the real world through augmented reality. These virtual social interactions offer great opportunities for salespeople to reach potential customers, wherever they are.
What is the metaverse in hospitality?
Hospitality and the hotel industry are traditionally tied to physical products, experiences and personal interactions, but that doesn’t mean hotels and restaurants can’t benefit from the metaverse. As a hotelier, you can complement your guests’ traditional stays with unique VR and AR experiences. These virtual experiences can build a bridge between current traditional hospitality and the future, where visits to virtual hotels will be normal and hospitality will be a service that also exists and is commonly used in the metaverse.
Let's see some examples:
- Innovative booking process
In hotel marketing, virtual reality seems to be one of the most promising tools to target the younger generations, which the metaverse can strengthen further. Potential guests who already use their digital avatar to navigate the multiverse can walk through the metaverse hotel - a digital copy of the real building - before booking. They can explore the common areas of the building to get a full picture of the hotel before booking. And if they have any questions, they can even talk to the hotel’s metaverse employee.
- Digital gatherings
A significant proportion of guests come to hotels for a gathering or meeting. It can be a family reunion, a birthday party, corporate team building, or even a quarterly business meeting. Whatever the reason, guests often come from different regions or even countries, which was almost completely impossible during the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, some of the restrictions are still in place.
One positive effect of the pandemic, however, is that it has helped to develop and spread a wide range of digital communication tools, which also offer a perfect opportunity for hospitality in the metaverse. With the help of modern technology, even guests who are not able to travel there in person can attend events.
What about other areas of hospitality in the metaverse?
The hotel industry is not the only one that can take advantage of metaverse hospitality. With the help of virtual reality, modern restaurants can offer their guests the opportunity to visit the restaurant virtually, watch the meal preparation process, and check the menu.
Another implication of the epidemic was that restaurants could not welcome guests for months. They could only fulfil orders with home delivery. However, through the metaverse, part of the restaurant experience can be retained even in such cases, as guests and staff can interact in real-time thanks to digital avatars.
- Exhibitions and concerts
Digital concerts are an area where metaverse hospitality has already shown its potential. We can see a variety of solutions, ranging from a virtual reality concert, connecting real music venues with a virtual space, and concerts in completely fictional worlds such as video games. They can be used to organise musical events without physical, staffing, or geographical constraints.
Exhibitions and other similar events were also negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, for which the digital world offered a solution as well. Metaverse also has great potential in the industry, as not only events can be completely relocated to the online space, but also social interactions, and in some cases even enhanced. The development of metaverse and digital events may lead to a reduction in the number and volume of trips, which will also provide a partial solution to the increased concerns about climate change.
Hospitality in metaverse is a relatively new concept that is sure to stir the sector in the future - along with many other industries. These technologies, while currently futuristic - and even seem incredible - will shape the expectations of future generations.
Of course, with all this I do not want to suggest that you invest in every new development, but I am sure that monitoring these innovations and integrating some of them will help you stay ahead of your competitors. By using new technological solutions, you can not only increase the number of your bookings but also provide special and unforgettable experiences for your guests.