Part 1: for dummies
Last October, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook is now Meta. This announcement thrust this general concept into the limelight. The digital community is discussing the new concept in general but we need to know how to implement this new technology in favor of the hospitality industry.
In this article, we will talk about the opportunities of the hospitality industry in Metaverse. And it’s probably not as you think…
What is the Metaverse?
The Metaverse is a digital reality that combines aspects of social media, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), online gaming, and cryptocurrencies. Metaverse is the future of the Internet, offering interconnected, decentralized virtual environments.
As the Metaverse grows, it will create digital spaces where user interactions are more immersive than those supported by current technology. Instead of just viewing digital content, users in the Metaverse will be able to immerse themselves in a space where the digital and physical worlds converge and experience content instead of just being recipients.
According to Mark Zuckerberg. “The Metaverse is an immersive virtual environment in which your avatar moves, consumes, communicates, plays, and attends events. In a very pragmatic way, you enter this universe thanks to headsets or dedicated helmets or glasses for the most immersive method (or by your smartphone or computer for a more limited experience).
The Metaverse…Why now?
Artificial Intelligence started on a favorable alignment of planets around the 2010s: sophisticated algorithms, the computing capacity of processors and databases,s and cloud computing.
In the same way today, another alignment composed of affordable VR headsets* (virtual reality headsets), cryptocurrencies, NFT, virtual games (Dual Universe, The Sandbox, Roblox, Decentraland, Minecraft, Fortnite, Facebook horizon, VR chat, XIrang, AltspaceVR…) and of course high-speed and 5G Internet enable the emergence of Metaverse. But history will surely remember October 28, 2021, as the first year of the Metaverse, the day Mark Zuckerberg announced “META”.
* A virtual reality headset is a head-mounted device that provides virtual reality for the wearer.
Metaverse and Hospitality
How can the hospitality industry use Metaverse? Can the Metaverse bring significant changes, solve some of the critical issues and become the future of the hospitality industry?
What opportunities does the Metaverse bring to hospitality?
For this, it is easy to imagine that Apple or Google Maps model Park or New York in 3D in which you can walk quietly from your living room to your destination. You have always dreamed of entering a Palace, but never could. Now you don’t have to worry about it. Thanks to the Metaverse you will be able to enter, visit the rooms and even book one! But What for?
The answer is you can enjoy a lot of activities included in the price of your virtual room, in which you will never sleep, such as cooking classes by a Star Chef, a yoga class given by an expert yogi and why not an introduction to cocktails by the bartender. You can also buy a digital work of art and finish the day attending a concert by the Venice Baroque Orchestra.
It is so important to comply with the dress code, you will most likely have to visit the Ferragamo boutique…We are talking about the virtual one of course! Unless you have bought a real evening dress, and the designer has offered you its digital double.
If you are a gamer, there is another experience you will enjoy. Let’s imagine a game that takes place in a city that is exciting on a planet at the edge of the universe. As this game is extremely popular, you have bought for your hotel a privileged location in the city. All the players will now be able to visit your property, spend time and money, or even make a reservation to come back later in non-virtual reality. It is easy to imagine the surprising visibility of the first hotels to join the Metaverse.
Many hoteliers will ignore the Metaverse as it looks like a distant fantasy that is not applicable in real life. Pretty much like what happened with the majority of people when the Internet and AI invaded all aspects of life a few years ago, but minds and habits always changed. Indeed, In a couple of years, when you rent a room in the physical world, you will receive a pass to access its virtual double. That means that you will have the right to enjoy all the Metaverse digital activities of the hotel for one month, one year, ten years, or even on specific dates to drive re-engagement.
What is the best way to gain customer loyalty, no more newsletters without content? Hotels will have a permanent link with their customers.
Metaverse and hotel marketing
Metaverse is a new kind of real estate. The presence of a hotel in an extremely popular place on the Metaverse will drive business like a good location in the real world and a good position in Google results. As such, the virtual hotel will be used for promotion, notoriety, generating commercial leads and of course, virtual or real sales as we have seen previously.
However, should a hotel be present in several Metaverse? It is highly possible that plenty of initiatives will appear after commercial or technological failures. Step by step, a certain concentration takes place to constitute the infrastructure on which the Metaverse will be built.
GAFAM and BATX are investing billions to develop this world where they would be free from regulation so it is easy to understand who will be the masters of the Metaverse. So the question is not if hotels should join the Metaverse but when. The process will most probably be gradual.
Furthermore, there will be two types of hotels, those with their Metaverse representation and the others. What will happen to the hotels without Metaverse representation? Guess what… Booking, Expedia, etc, will be happy to answer.
Opportunities of Metaverse for the hospitality industry
Certainly, it will be a revolution and hospitality will not be the same. What is required from hotels to be present on the Metaverse? It is not enough to build a virtual representation. It will also be required to be animated and above all interactive and engaging.
Hence the need for powerful and scalable conversational AI represented by an avatar (like Velma), deep structured hotel data, a very robust CRM, an open PMS, and a scalable booking engine. There are clear indications that at this point, there are not many hotel candidates ready for the Metaverse. So if you want to get ready for what’s coming start by reinforcing your basics.
The Metaverse is closer at hand than many might think, so we should not lose valuable time… Dissonant voices will claim that: “No one will book rooms in the Metaverse! They are probably the same hotels, who told Quicktext five years ago, that no one would book rooms via AI or those who believed 20 years ago, that the internet was not made for the hotel business…. History is merciless sometimes.
Some hotels might generate more incomes in the Metaverse than in the physical world… For a very simple reason, the number of guests in the Metaverse is unlimited unlike the capacity of the hotels.
No one really knows what the Metaverse is going to be like. However, it is clear that the only way to keep our economy on track is to increase the consumption of digital goods as physical ones tend to exhaustion.
We have not addressed the issues related to deep conversational AI dedicated to hospitality, structured data, the future of PMS, CRM and booking engines, monetization, privacy, addiction, etc…
For more details about Metaverse in hospitality industry, discover our articles:
- Part 2 for hoteliers (click here).
- Part 3 for experts (click here).