When it comes to the new frontiers of tourism, one cannot but think about metaverse, a concept that is becoming established in all areas and that has opened new perspectives and opportunities that companies are eager to seize.

The term that has become trendy on Google is not new: it comes from the world of science fiction and was coinedin 1992 by Neal Stephenson, author of the postcyberpunk novel "Snow Crash"

However, we began to speak concretely and reflect on its implications, only last year when Mark Zuckerberg announced the rebranding of Facebook throwing Half, in reference to a new virtual dimension that involves different areas of life.

 

The concept of Metaverse refers to the creation of virtual, interactive worlds centered on social connections. Digital spaces in which your avatar can move, interact with other connected people and perform actions, such as buying digital objects, play and entertainment activities in digitally reconstructed immersive contexts, all facilitated by the use of virtual reality viewers, augmented reality and other technologies. 

 

You remember Second Life? We are not very far from the concept behind the virtual world produced by Linden Lab in 2003. A concept that did not take off due to the not very mature times both from a cultural and technological point of view and which today, instead, in the age of digital and hyper-connectedness, finds fertile ground.

 

Today there are many companies, especially the big brands, that have begun to study and explore potential and advantages. One of the opportunities that the metaverse can offer is undoubtedly the possibility of reach customers wherever they are offering new types of experiences thanks tointegration between the physical and digital world. The tourism sector is also involved in this new challenge. But how to make the most of it to create added value?

 

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 METAVERSE: OPPORTUNITIES IN TOURISM

We are well aware that the pandemic has helped to bring out the vulnerability of this sector. Tourism has paid a very high price in terms of attendance, jobs and image. The time has come to react and relaunch the sector by leveraging digital and technology. The metaverse can be an opportunity as it is the place where digital and traveler services can interact and collaborate. 

 

In the metaverse, in fact, reality and virtual they do not represent two distinct dimensions but are an expression of the same world. And so artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual experiences, etc., are not alternative digital tools to real life, but they become an integral part of the customer experience because they improve it, make it more attractive, ensure that travelers are more satisfied and gratified and can eventually return or recommend experiences to friends and acquaintances. So we can consider the metaverse as one parallel virtual reality where companies can use innovative tools and technologies to communicate and interact with their customers. On the other hand, travelers can access different experiences that expand and amplify the travel experience, pre, during and post. 

 

With these premises, we realize how the metaverse can help bridge the gap with its audience by promoting a neverending tourism, accessible and inclusive.

metaverso turismo

Among the opportunities of the metaverse in tourism, there is the possibility to inspire, entice and make places and structures attractive. A few examples? The virtual experiences can helping tourists to choose their destination and to organize your own itinerary. They provide additional experiences that they amplify the travel experience, not replace it. By recreating real-world environments, they can be of great help in the travel planning stage as they provide travelers with a clear idea of what they might expect when visiting a destination. Valuable and detailed information that cannot be provided in other ways. For example hotels could use i virtual tours to show the structure by making the user anticipate the stay experience before booking. Or they could make the surroundings known by indicating the main tourist attractions that are close to the structure.

All this affects the purchase decision and consequently the booking experience: it is in fact more likely that the user, having complete and detailed information available, completes the purchase.

 

But not only. The metaverse makes the more inclusive tourism and triggers a process of democratization of the culture of travel and exploration. Overcoming the limits of space and time makes the easily accessible places by people with reduced mobility or by those who at that time are unable, for various reasons, to travel.

 

Also there augmented reality is used to provide tourism solutions in the metaverse. Its ability to provide information on places and territories helps to change the way customers perceive the surrounding environment, improving the real experience. For example, it can be used by hotels to provide tourist information on a destination or to deepen anecdotes and curiosities about the history of the building in which the hotel is located, or by museums to make the experience more attractive and engaging and attract new audiences.

 

Another application of the metaverse in tourism is the Gamification. As already widely seen in this article And in the interview with Fabio Viola, the use of gamification in the cultural and tourist field, offers interactive and engaging ways of using it in which the public is co-protagonist and an active part of the experience not only during the visit, but also before and after it. What if hotels focus on this concept? By matching virtual reality and loyalty programs they could, for example, encourage the return of guests.

 

The metaverse is and will be the new challenge and not only in the tourism sector. It will help to change the reference models with reality, the search for information, the relationship with places, the very concept of hospitality which will be enlarged and dilated. Some companies in the sector have already started experimenting to attract, increase business opportunities, retain and monetize. In a few years, virtual worlds will probably become the protagonists of a new concept of tourism. However, like all new technologies, the metaverse could also hide pitfalls and problems. While the potential is huge and the enthusiasm is great, regulation will be needed and limited access to technology in some areas of the world will also need to be considered.  

 

We just have to observe what is happening in the world and monitor the developments of the situation.

 

 

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