What is the metaverse?
The term ‘Metaverse’ was made globally famous in late 2021 when Facebook announced the change of its name to Meta. The hospitality industry is just the latest in a series of industries migrating to the Metaverse.
The concept of a Metaverse, however, was first made popular in 1992 by a science-fiction novel named Snow Crash.
This interpretation of a Metaverse envisaged a single entity system. The Metaverse now, does not refer to any specific object, entity or place. On the other hand, it represents an intersection of realities – physical and virtual – in the digital world, using the Internet as a backbone.
How does Hospitality fit in with this new Reality?
Hospitality is defined as a method to make people feel welcome. A question many have asked is, can that be done in the metaverse? The answer is – most definitely. A challenge that may be posed to the hospitality industry with reference to the Metaverse, is it that it creates unique and memorable experiences for its customers.
Experts feel that while sights and sounds can be seamlessly replicated in the Metaverse, other sensory experiences like smell, taste and touch are almost impossible to recreate using computer simulation.
This brings to light the question of how the hospitality industry can integrate with the Metaverse, without compromising on the experiential offerings to its customers. While this may be a difficult question to answer, listed below are just some of the areas where the industry can fit into todays’ new reality.
3D virtual tours of hotel rooms, event spaces, and amenities are just some of the applications that the hospitality industry can envisage for its foray into the Metaverse. At present, using existing technology, a customer can experience walk-throughs of venues on a computer. The fundamental differentiator is that this experience is still through a computer screen.
An immersive experience, made possible with VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) will be able to provide a much more realistic impression of space and size while walking through a ballroom for example.
Mark Zuckerberg has famously said that the Metaverse can be regarded as an embodied Internet, where instead of just viewing content, one is actually in it.
Virtual tours of hotel rooms will be made possible, and this will eliminate any misunderstandings or mismatch of customer expectations with the property. Many feel that having a presence in the Metaverse today is as important as having a social media account a few years ago.
The Metaverse environment offers a unique and useful method for training employees in the hospitality sector. Experts feel that situations, like roleplaying sessions, can be less uncomfortable than what they are today.
The anonymous environment offered by the Metaverse also allows for more genuine interactions when it comes to simulated interactions with guests. Even negative interactions can be simulated, which can train employees better to handle negative behavior or comments from guests.
3D modelling takes away the headache of renovations and associated model rooms, which can be a costly and time-consuming exercise. Every property presents its own challenges while being renovated or remodeled.
Currently in the physical world, many of these challenges don’t come to light until actual completion of the work. Recreating rooms and guest-areas in 3D using the Metaverse avoids most of the complications arising from human error.
As human interaction with technology evolves and changes, the hospitality industry is also expected to rapidly follow the trending industry adoption of technology to improve experiences.
What remains to be seen, is whether the Metaverse will be able to not just replicate, bur replace the actual experience of walking through a property and experiencing sights, sounds and smells inherent to the hospitality industry.