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How Can Hotels Embrace The Metaverse

The metaverse incorporates all immersive technologies. This can be divided into three building blocks: virtual, augmented, and mixed reality.

  • Virtual Reality - using devices that create a deeply immersive experience that doesn’t exist IRL (in real life). It’s commonly a headset providing audio-visual and, in some cases, some haptic, experiential engagement.
  • Augmented Reality - an immersive and informational overlay on the real world, driven primarily by the supercomputer (smartphone) in everybody's hands.
  • Mixed Reality - Set to be the endgame of the metaverse. Mixed Reality will give the ability to come in and out of IRL. You’ll have overlays of virtual reality on the real world. Wearable devices, probably glasses, will give you the ability to be always on and be fully or partially immersive, to access information, data, instructions, or entertainment that will push through to you while you're interacting with points of presence in the digital world and the physical world.

The other major building block of the metaverse is Web3, the infrastructure of evolving and emerging technologies such as blockchain, IoT (the internet of things), geolocational sensors, etc, many of which are already being used by the hospitality industry.

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What Does This Mean for the Guest?

The metaverse and immersive technologies are inclusive innovations for travel and hospitality. This can open up travel experiences for people with physical disabilities, or who don't have the opportunity to travel. And there are now more touchpoints for communicating with guests pre-stay, in-stay, and post-stay.

1. Pre-stay benefits

Soon, guests will be able to pre-experience the hotel. Industry innovators such as citizenM and Marriott are already experimenting with this. Another company, called Rendezverse, can create a digital twin on any hotel, conference facility, resort, spa, or any other offering.

This helps the guest select their room or suite, while for conference organizers it enables them to ‘see’ the conference facilities and different room configurations.

This is huge for the guest, as they consider where to spend their money. Being able to experience the difference between a guestroom offering 120 square feet versus a suite offering 135 square feet, or the view from a higher-level suite, can lead to higher conversion rates on higher priced units. The ROI on the tech investment is very linear: you invest in immersive technology and immersive content and you sell more expensive rooms.

2. In-stay benefits

With augmented reality and mixed reality glasses, the options to offer a virtual experience on-premise on the property, at a destination, or even in an airport or other environment are huge.

The ability to be ‘always on’ will open up more cross-sell opportunities for hotels via the immersive layer. Guests can activate pre-experiences: they can experience the casino floor, the live entertainment, the restaurant, and the spa. I can take my supercomputer smartphone and I can scan a QR code and be transported to an immersive experience that will show me the show or the hamburger will rotate in front of me.

It's going to enhance the guest experience. It's going to create more destination hotspots to get people to move to different areas of the resort or destination. And it can be very strategic.

Hotels can use this to drive restaurant bookings, and ancillary revenues, educate the guest and alleviate concierge.

Another use case is, I walk into a sophisticated hotel room that is heavily tech-enabled.

I don't know how to use the guest room management system. How do I turn the lights on, for example? I walk in. I put my phone up to the QR code, and now the entire guest room is on my phone via the immersive layer. I can see videos of how everything works. Or I point it to the lights and can control the brightness. The information is now available on a device that is familiar to me – my smartphone.

There are tourism attractions already embracing this technology. I visited the Gustav Klimt Museum in Vienna which has a lot of cool audio-visual, and virtual reality headsets which bring the artwork to life. This creates an immersive art experience that puts visitors into a milieu of Vienna at the turn of the century. 

3. Post-stay benefits

Post-stay is going to be a new way to share your travel photos.

Imagine, I go to Machu Picchu and the tour guide has a high-definition camera on a GoPro getting an immersive capture behind me as I’m climbing. Post-trip they send me a link for my VR headset and I can experience it again, in an immersive environment. This time I can take in more; I see the eagles soaring above me and the view below me. And my friends and family can experience it too. It's a shared immersive experience.

Operational Benefits

It must be about utility, engagement, and loyalty all working together, both front and back of house, because employee retention and employee training are paramount.

The ‘sizzle’ is in the customer-facing solutions, but the greater, short-term impact will be in operations, recruitment, and training. There are hotel brands today that have invested in hundreds of VR headsets for training and recruitment. They can help candidates pre-experience the job, making the interview process richer and deeper, and help employers find the best-suited candidates.

In an industry where standard operating procedures (SOPs) are vital, many brands and operators are converting training to virtual platforms.

Is it really coming?

The hospitality industry has traditionally been a laggard in adopting new technology. And there are still many doubters. But…

The app for Meta's Oculus VR headset was the number one app download on both the Apple and Google app stores after Christmas. In 2021, Meta sold nearly 2.5 million headsets. In 2022, that figure almost tripled.

The next generation is already living with this. The next generation of hotel guests, hotel revenue managers, hotel general managers, and more. The hotel industry needs to catch up if it wants to stay ahead.

Discover more trends & predictions from industry leaders in our latest eBook: Targeting Greater Profitability In 2023. Download your FREE copy today:

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Michael Cohen, Managing Partner, GAIN Advisors

Managing Partner, GAIN Advisors

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