Written by: Dominika Duziak
Editor’s Note: This blog post will feature podcast episodes from the HospitalityVerse Podcast, a new series that discusses the latest trends in hospitality technology, including discussions on the Metaverse, blockchain, NFTS and more.
I am sure by now you have all heard about the Metaverse. It has become a huge buzzword since Facebook announced it was changing its name to Meta last year. The vision of a fully immersive virtual world — where humans can interact through their avatars as they play, work, create and trade digital assets — exploded. What followed was an avalanche of press releases. Many companies (and I’m not referring to big tech; I’m referring to airlines, real estate, healthcare and even fashion) have started investing in metaverse applications.
UAE healthcare firm Thumbay Group announced their plan to launch the first “metaverse hospital” in October this year, where patients can consult with a doctor virtually. Emirates Airlines is preparing cabin crew training in the Metaverse. Prada hosted a hybrid fashion show live-streamed in the Metaverse. You will notice similar press releases every day. There are concerts, huge brands opening Metaverse stores, art galleries — and recently, a Metaverse wedding.
You may wonder, how is this applicable to the hospitality industry? Or maybe you’re asking a different question: what actually is “the Metaverse”? I don’t blame you. As with many things now — including crypto, blockchain or NFTs — there is a lot of hype and many misconceptions, and it is really easy to get lost in all that noise.
In the first episode of the HospitalityVerse podcast, we try to explain this new virtual world and explore its business impact.
Some industry experts call Metaverse a fad, claiming that people will always want to physically meet, travel and experience life. Some point out that virtual destination/hotel tours are not a new thing; the problem is: can you really monetize them? What are the conversion rates and return on investment on these?
On the other hand, others see it as an opportunity. For example, Marriott has already dipped its toes in this new virtual world, building a digital “twin” virtual representation of the Madrid property designed for hosting virtual events. Destinations are also exploring metaverse opportunities. Bali has its own digital twin, built with 99 percent precision, thanks to the support of the local government. Virtual tourists can experience the cultural heritage of the island, while local businesses have an opportunity to promote their properties and brands, place ads on virtual billboards, create digital brand assets and monetize them.
Tourism is also one of the key focus areas of the Dubai Metaverse Strategy, announced recently by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The UAE Ministry of Economy is even opening new headquarters in the Metaverse, promising visitors will be able to get things done quickly and even sign legally binding documents, thus eliminating the need to travel to Dubai or Abu Dhabi office.
Metaverse projects have sprung up like mushrooms. Most of them, however, seem to only serve PR purposes, which can contribute to brand reputation but are unlikely to generate long-term ROI.
There are nonetheless strong use cases for hospitality — in the Hospitality and Metaverse episode, we explore two of them: virtual site inspections that can boost MICE revenues and virtual training which promise cost efficiency and better learning outcomes.
Dominika Duziak is a host of the HospitalityVerse podcast. She combines product development and product management skills acquired in banking with a passion for new tech to uncover innovation opportunities. During her MBA program in International Hospitality Management at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management in Dubai, UAE, Duziak focused on business applications of Blockchain technology in the hotel industry. This research led to the creation of HospitalityVerse, where hospitality professionals can learn about the latest trends and developments in hospitality technology effortlessly. Follow HospitalityVerse on LinkedIn for daily updates from the hospitality tech world.