Analyzing the Areas of Hospitality the Metaverse Will Change
Virtual reality meets augmented reality, in the digital world. Welcome to the metaverse.
What You Will See Here
In case you were wondering, it’s not a video game.
You need to differentiate between virtual reality and augmented to understand the metaverse.
Virtual reality (VR) is a simulated experience. With the help of a headset, you can move through a completely virtual environment that may look realistic but is in fact artificial. Once your VR goggles are set, you could be on the beach or hiking a mountain. It may look like you’re there, but you haven’t left your living room.
Augmented reality (AR) doesn’t always require a headset and can often be implemented through your smartphone. AR takes your actual reality and enhances it by adding graphics or objects. For example, you could be looking a the hotel lobby you see in front of you, but with a gorgeous peacock traipsing the lobby via the AR version on your phone.
The metaverse replicates your reality. What you see and experience through the physical world around you, is now present digitally, allowing you to immerse and interact with that environment. You design an avatar, or a virtual representation of yourself to live in this virtual world. You communicate through your avatar if you choose to wear a headset or microphone, or simply through a chat feature.
The metaverse is a fast track to surpassing guest expectations by enabling hoteliers to deliver exceptional experiences in a new way. Your guests can now develop a sense of your hotel before they even arrive.
Guests are gathering data on your property and you’re gathering data on your guests, cookie-less of course. Guests are the lead users of the metaverse, interacting with your brand, allowing you to digitally track those interactions to make improvements from anything to hotel aesthetics to the booking and guest journey.
Despite being in the beginning stages of development, early adoption of the metaverse could give your hotel a leg up over competitors. Businesses are realizing the value of the metaverse to deepen relationships with consumers while taking advantage of the monetary applications of this innovative technology.
Like seeing a movie in 3D, you’re part of the story. Now, imagine your guests taking a tour of your hotel. You’re crafting the story but in the metaverse.
Traveling as an avatar, potential guests can virtually walk through your property, decide if they like what they see, and prepare to book. Room features, room size, and potential upgrades will all be a part of the tour, along with opportunities to chat with the staff. It’s a direct booking dream! These interactive elements will only lend to molding guest expectations and increasing conversions.
If artificial intelligence is part of your hotel, there are ways to take advantage of the tour. For example, what better time to demonstrate how a guest can use the digital concierge for early check-in? The metaverse supports AI technology as prospective guests determine what their stay looks like at your hotel.
So what about exclusivity? Hoteliers globally can be offering 3D tours with easy access to property information, but there needs to be a limit to how much access. Prepare to generate an additional revenue stream by combining the metaverse with the unique gatekeeping of NFTs. Simply, hoteliers could create exclusive or private offerings for those in the metaverse to access, only with a specific NFT (Non-fungible token). An NFT is a digital asset that you own, maybe it’s a piece of artwork or a sports collectible, that you trade on the blockchain, which is like a digital marketplace. NFTs limit access. Think NFT only hotel lounges or hotel meeting spaces.
If you are initiating an email marketing campaign, roll out the segmentation and create email campaigns targeted at repeat bookers, marketing these dedicated constructs. Design offers around bonus and exclusive deals in the metaverse, governed by NFTs. Hoteliers can gather more insights about their customers based on who invests in NFTs, so that they can design experiences in the metaverse to fit these guests’ interests, paving the path for detailed segmentation.
The metaverse could be the lift your loyalty program needed. Hoteliers can attract repeat bookers if incentives are embedded within the metaverse. If hoteliers were to leverage their loyalty program in the metaverse, to their real-world loyalty program, guests may then feel compelled to sign up because of the added digital perks.
Further that strategy with “gamification”, integrating marketing, loyalty, and even guest feedback. Digital actions such as guest feedback surveys, social media mentions, or referral links that guests send to their friends and family can be used to “gamify” your loyalty program within the metaverse. The more guests that take the time to engage in these activities, the better their position in your loyalty program. Top it off with tailored email campaigns to encourage guests to “up the score” or their “rank” by participating.
Time after time, personalization reveals itself as the root of marketing success, so let the metaverse be the catalyst. According to a Google/Phocuswright Traveler Study, “36% (over 1 in 3) would pay more for more tailored information and experiences.”, in other words, guests want what’s relevant to them.
The metaverse cracks email marketing upsells wide open. Send emails with offers for exploring upgraded rooms via virtual tours and even sneak in automated discounts within those tours! Plug your loyalty program at points throughout the tour when referencing upgrades, package deals, and points.
While their avatars in the metaverse take care of the guest tours, hotel staff are freed up to focus their attention on other responsibilities. This freedom also enables staff to practice their guest interactions based on what takes place virtually. So the metaverse becomes a training tool.
And when it comes to guest feedback, you can directly translate positive reviews to the behavior of hotel staff from their learnings in the metaverse!
The metaverse also has the potential to reduce labor costs if the booking office is shifted to the virtual realm. Booking becomes more automated, with the front office only needed for certain points along the guest’s journey. The metaverse essentially supports automation to ease the burden on hotel staff: a great way to combat the staffing crisis.
While the implementation of the metaverse in the hospitality industry is not yet mainstream, the future is promising. Preparing for the changes now could put your hotel ahead of the game in terms of providing a superior guest experience.
Here’s a great webinar that breaks down “Marketing in the Metaverse” that can teach hoteliers how to compete in the virtual world.