Could the evolving metaverse help bolster the travel industry as the world moves forward post-COVID? The metaverse has real-life advantages for prospective travelers to explore options virtually before they actually pack their bags. But there is still some skepticism from jet-setting veterans.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a difficult period that forced many to remain restricted to confined spaces. Unsurprisingly, the travel industry was one of the most negatively affected during this period.
But now, with most restrictions being lifted, domestic and international travel has resumed in most parts of the world. Now, travelers are exploring options to celebrate Christmas and the New Year, looking to end the year on a positive note.
Now, technology like virtual and augmented reality are being used to allow travelers to virtually exploring potential destinations. In 2022, this idea of a virtual ‘metaverse’ was heavily promoted by Meta’s chief Mark Zuckerberg as a way to transform the travel industry and improve off-site work life.
Some consider the metaverse to be a keystone in the next evolution of the internet, commonly referred to as ‘web3.’ It aims to create more immersive experiences using virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR). These technologies have already begun to penetrate the travel industry. It’s now becoming possible to put on headsets and travel anywhere in the world, with no trains, no planes, no lines, and no passports.
This allows travelers to ‘try it before they buy it.’ The Anantara Dhigu resort in one of the most traveled places, Maldives, offers customers the opportunity to virtually explore their hotel room options from anywhere in the world.
Many other hotels and resorts are jumping on the bandwagon as well. For instance, the Anantara Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky Amsterdam joined RendezVerse on its web3 development journey to transform meetings and events into a virtual environment.
Metaverse in-flight operations
Speaking to BeInCrypto, Skynav’s COO Ty Downing highlighted three key areas of how the metaverse can bolster the travel experience. Firstly, virtual sales, and bookings, which have been discussed above. Even here, the COO focused on the ‘try before they buy’ narrative. The second is boosting customer service, to which he stated:
“(Metaverse) offers numerous ways to interact with customers, employees, and companies. Consider the possibility of closing a deal from your home office, or better still, consider how the Metaverse can help you understand your traveler’s behavior. Moreover, your customer may want to use the Metaverse while vacationing. They may wish to visit the store to buy a product, book their return flight, or maybe converse with their children.”
Lastly, the technology can also act as a real-time guide. Moreover, providers from airlines are now offering in-flight entertainment in virtual reality. Currently, this is usually found only in business and first class. But, it will likely become the norm as costs become more manageable. Someone scared of flying can now be in a completely different world during the duration of the flight.
What Do Travelers Want to Do in 2023?
One of the largest travel agencies, Booking.com, shared its year-end report with BeInCrypto. The agency surveyed 24,179 respondents across 32 countries and found that many travelers were keen to explore ‘virtual vacations.’
Virtual reality technology hasn’t yet evolved to the point where travelers can take ‘real-life’ tours. However, it can offer tourists a glimpse of what they can expect to experience. Per the study, 43% are open to using VR to inspire their travel choices, while 46% said they would be much more likely to journey somewhere if they could experience the place in VR first.
Many even expressed eagerness to spend multiple days inside the metaverse. 35% revealed they’d take a multi-day AR or VR journey. The report elaborated:
“As haptic feedback technology advances, virtual travelers will soon be able to feel the sand between their toes and the sun on their skin without even having to step outside.”
On the other hand, most vacationers still agree that virtual tours aren’t as appealing as being in the real place. The concept around this technology remains a niche sector. It will likely take years for it to really evolve and catch on. The metaverse sector is already off to a rocky start due to its links to the cryptocurrency and virtual asset markets.
Nevertheless, companies in the luxury fashion goods and music industries are already trying to leverage the metaverse into their products and events.
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