Exploring the Practical Business Applications of the Metaverse. What do hotels need to know?
15 experts shared their view
During the first three episodes of Polybius, Hospitality Net's metaverse series focused on travel and hospitality, we discussed the basics (if you missed them, you can rewatch them here: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/polybius/).
Now that you know more about the metaverse, it's time to delve into real-world business opportunities beyond simple virtual reality.
What are some examples of how entrepreneurs can use the metaverse for advertising, immersive e-commerce, B2A marketing, etc., beyond merely creating VR twins?
Can you provide real success case studies that showcase the metaverse potential for businesses?
Business applications of the metaverse: what you need to know
The Metaverse is here to extend the possibilities of reality and the digital presence of any person or company. My personal and professional use goes from a creative CV, to my virtual office to organizing activities up to 2000 users. Going further into the Metaverse, you can include a link in the signature of your email that will direct them to your virtual office and activate notifications when someone enters. This will give you the possibility of approaching the potential client in a more personalized way. Other options are recreating turistic destinations that will immerse users into a particular environment allowing them to experience and explore the product they seem interested in. You can also hybrid or completely virtualize your event. This will allow you to reach bigger audiences worldwide. Fairs, Congress, Concerts, Product Presentations and Team Buildings are some examples of activities that can be done inside Metaverses. Teaching and training purposed are commonly used now-a-day in the Metaverse. This grants to possibility for users to learn and practice the use of tools and activities that either have high costs or high risks. Don't let reality stop your creativity and take advantage of the possibilities of our present.
In this case, let's consider a scalability concept for Polybius.
Let's Say Polybius wanted to become a Metaverse Hub where you can play mini-games, buy merch and handbook guides and attend a panel like the one we'll have this month.
With a click of a link, you can access the new immersive space in spatial.io and take a portal into the e-shop from which you can buy merch (digital or physical), have access to the multiple guides that will be issued and even mint an NFT to attend the panel.
In this space, Polybius can advertise its products, preach about its mission and even stream previous events for visitors to their Metaverse Space to witness as they roam; all of which create brand awareness and a call to action like no traditional website can.
You know what else can be done? They can create gamified experiences and immersive learning trainings for the people in hospitality to participate in and learn from.
The Opportunities that the Metaverse Creates are absolutely Limitless. It opens up an absolutely new realm for Brands and Businesses all over the world to rethink their Business Models, Business Strategies and my favorite of them all, their Marketing.
The question is: what can we do with the Metaverse which we cannot do on Web2?
I think one missing piece of the puzzle is helping the Hotel guests understand the area around the Hotel.
Ideally, a potential guest may stroll around the Hotel and get a feeling of the environment: see the streets, the restaurant, the shops, the noise and so on.
Also, simulating the transport from the airport to the Hotel may be fun and make the experience smoother once on place.
In evaluating use cases for the near-term (2023 and into 2024), we have to play a bit of devil's advocate for any emerging and much-hyped technology, especially heading into a recessionary period of uncertain revenue projections and lots of other projects vying for any hotel's IT resources. So, the critical question to ask is, "What's the use case(s) that only metaverse technologies can satisfy?"
My answer to this is that connected AR/VR/XR technologies offer an unparalled and totally immersive new way for guests to interact with hotel brands before the onsite stay as well as post-departure. While the latter may involve recording peaks of the onsite experience so that these can be relived in the metaverse, I see hotels making the biggest strides in the pre-booking phase of the guest journey insofar as engaging prospective customers with a sensorally rich digital twin of a property in order to increase booking confidence drive more room reservations. Then, these same interactive 3D environments can be used during the prearrival stage to build ancillary spend in order to maximize TRevPAR.
Tommy Hifliger partnered with Ready Player Me, the avatar company that allows Metaversians to use the same avatar in various worlds such as spatial.io, VRChat or Somnium Space.
They created an outfit that they allowed people to mint for free and use on their Ready Player Me avatar, showcasing the brand across various Metaverse platforms.
On top of that, they created a physical clothing line identical to the digital one, so people could wear in real life the same outfits as their avatars.
I would recommend hotels to start with establishing a Flagship in the Metaverse, to have this presence, and from there take steps to start throwing activations in that virtual space. This can be for example a live DJ concert, a panel discussion, a meditation session etc.
The most impactful metaverse real case so far is actually for internal purposes, especially for optimizing virtual training & simulation for standardized human capital. We do mostly for improving the level of standaradized services and business process.
Another use case that still in PoC stage is actually to optimize idle spaces/room/building to give extraordinary experiences to NFT Holders, Community Member, Loyalty Program, any other participative entities.
We can feature with brands, sponsor, enterprises, philanthropist, advertisers, IPs Holders, Artists, to leverage the business process & experiences (especially for travel and leisure).
We can hold hybrid event between real world spaces and metaverse spaces through Mix Reality experiences like connecting LIVE event between those two world. Imagine utilize your idle ballroom spaces or garden in your hotel to host a concert + fanmeet, combining real world spaces and metaverse experiences. But yes, It takes a lot of courage to make it happen, but it's not impossible.
A digital twin is often the only proposal meta-marketing agencies make. However, this can be a deterrent, as the cost of creating virtual custom spaces remains high. Metaverse Advertising is a more feasible way to establish a presence in the metaverse without overinvesting. For example, Deliveroo's use of avatars dressed as food delivery drivers in Animal Crossing is an exemplary case of native advertising in an immersive experience without the need to build anything.The Infinite Loop Marketing concept is also interesting; the seamless transition between virtual and real-world purchases. Companies such as Forever 21 have implemented pre-IRL product testing in their virtual worlds as an efficient and economical method for evaluating their collections before the (physical) market launch. In-game product placement is another example of using the metaverse without having to sell a kidney. Gaming giants such as Sega or EA are already proposing native, dynamic ads. You could showcase your hotel banner to millions of FIFA gamers without having to build a single brick in the metaverse. At least for now, we should see the metaverse as a means rather than an end: To paraphrase Milton: "Better to advertise in Hell than to build in Heaven."
There are three specific and tangible practical business applications for immersive platforms and the Metaverse with the global travel and hospitality space.
First, the ability for brands and operators to deploy mobile digital, immersive overlays of information, new services, marketing and guest experience enhancements to their hotel, resort or restaurant locations. Primarily through web3 and GPS location-specific, augmented reality activations.
Second, the enablement of pre - present and post immersive, digital twin experiences of a property or destination. The ability to provide mobile or WebVR immersive digital twin access to an actual physical hotel, conference center or resort experience, will be the standard in a few years and enable guests and customers to deeply research, enjoy and choose where and how they spend their money and time. Additionally, the ability to share their travel and hospitality experiences with family and friends in a post, mobile or WebVR experience will be the new "share the travel photos" option moving forward.
Finally, the impactful ability to drive utility, engagement and loyalty through the design and deployment of immersive, persistent marketing and brand experiences, as digital destination metaverse hubs, where loyal customers can congregate and interact with the brand or other guests.
In my view, for now, hotels that provide leisure stays should know that the virtual experience should be used to enhance the existing physical experience, not to replace it. For example, hotels could offer a virtual experience to their guests before arrival to build their expectations and excitement. And a follow-up virtual experience after their stay to conclude their experience and "entice" them to join another experience in the near future.
The metaverse is the art of the inaccessible impossible turning into the accessible possible.
As the technology behind the metaverse continues to evolve, it is becoming a major business opportunity across a variety of sectors. One of the key concepts is the "Datafication of Everything," which refers to the trend of turning everything around us into data that can be collected, analysed, and used to make decisions. Another important concept is "immersive Commerce," which refers to the use of virtual reality, augmented reality, and other immersive technologies to create an engaging and interactive shopping experience for customers. The "Infinity Marketing Loop" is also important, as it focuses on the continuous acquisition of new customers and the retention of existing ones.
The hospitality sector can particularly benefit from the metaverse, as virtual tours and experiences can be created to allow users to explore different parts of the world and historical sites. In addition, the metaverse can be used for advertising, B2A marketing, virtual training and education, and virtual Reality based entertainment.
In my article I move in depth with metaverse business opportunities in the travel and hospitlaity sector, giving you some concrete examples of business.
Related article by Roberto Garavaglia
There are two main approaches to utilizing the power of the Metaverse by the hotels to get more bookings, build brand loyalty and engage their guests.
The first approach is instead of just listing and showcasing 2d photos for your hotel on booking websites. You can differentiate yourself by creating a digital twin (a virtual representation of your hotel.) and showcasing it in 3D and immersive experiences. Within this digital twin, you can highlight the advantages, facilities, tips on how to use and what to do, and even memories of people using it.
The second approach is to engage your guests in Metaverse experiences within your facility, so they can create Metavtwins (physical representations of their virtual creations.) for their memories. Where they can use tools on the Metaverse to create virtual souvenirs, arts, crafts, accessories, etc to visualize the great memories they had during their stay and then digital print it for them or give it to them as an NFT or both.
Using both approaches simultaneously can add a lot of value to your business, differentiate your hotel, increase bookings and build brand loyalty.
The notion of a world where hybrid and digital coexist with a full-fledged economy has yet to be realized, but we're already seeing pieces of those being implemented.
Related article by Marco Musso
Although you can access the Metaverse with any device, from PC to Mobile, it is crucial to utilize the right device for the right platform, according to the nature of the business. For businesses in the travel and hospitality industry, I recommend exploring and adopting immersive technologies.
As we have seen in the previous episode, Extended Reality (XR) is the umbrella term that encapsulates all the immersive technologies, such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR), and everything in between. This is what the Metaverse is all about: blurring the lines between the physical and digital worlds.
A successful example in the hospitality industry is the AR platform OVER, which allows businesses to digitize, create and publish geolocalized experiences by scanning their physical locations autonomously and with a smartphone.
Another platform to keep an eye on is Horizon Worlds. This year we expect Meta to release it worldwide and enable the creation of worlds with professional tools such as Blender and TypeScript. It will be even easier to create digital twins of hotels, landmarks, and, more importantly, immersive experiences that allow customers to explore and connect with brands.
The metaverse is a rapidly developing technology with many potential use cases. However, it is important to note that mass adoption is not yet widespread and we are still in the phase of exploration and experimentation. Additionally, it's important to differentiate between use cases related to the open metaverse and those related to the industrial metaverse. The open metaverse is a virtual reality that is open and accessible to everyone, while the industrial metaverse is a virtual reality for specific purposes and is typically closed and only accessible to specific individuals or professionals.
Examples of Open Metaverse use cases include:
- Marketing activations
- Real Estate
- Virtual Commerce
Examples of Industrial Metaverse use cases include:
With many industries already delving into this revolutionary technology, now is the time to experiment and test. While we can't predict exactly how the metaverse will evolve in the next 5-10 years, one thing is certain: those who start today will have a significant advantage when mass adoption takes place.
Related article by Luca Lupattelli
The metaverse is becoming increasingly important for the hotel industry as it offers new ways for guests to engage with and experience a property. One of the most exciting developments in the metaverse is the use of NFTs to create virtual, collectible items that can be used to enhance the guest experience.
For example, our startup Vision is trying to be part of this revolution by creating luxury, made-in-Italy frames for NFTs. These frames can be used to display virtual art in any hotel that can create unique and memorable experiences for guests, while also offering them the ability to take a piece of the hotel home with them in the form of a virtual collectible.
In addition to using NFTs to enhance the guest experience, hotels can also leverage the metaverse to create virtual versions of their properties that can be used for marketing and promotion. This can help guests get a better sense of the hotel and its amenities, which can increase bookings but also can enrich the experience.
Overall, the metaverse is a powerful tool. The point is not to be afraid of this new technology but to try it and discover all the functionalities it hides.