Across the world, industries are adapting to the rise of virtual reality technology, including the introduction of the metaverse, and trying to figure out what it all means. A booming industry, Bloomberg estimates that the virtual reality segment of the stock market will be worth $800 billion by 2024. If this trend continues and the metaverse expands and evolves, more and more branches of the hospitality industry will begin to feel its impact. From hotels and wedding venues to restaurants and concert halls, experts across the hospitality industry are watching the metaverse closely to stay ahead of the curve.
In this post, we take a deep dive into what the metaverse is and how it’s affecting hospitality professionals worldwide. In addition to exploring metaverse hospitality marketing opportunities and revenue strategies, we look at how brands and hoteliers are taking advantage of the hospitality metaverse to grow their business.
Explore the rise of the hospitality metaverse and what it means for industry professionals
Virtual technology isn’t a new concept. AR and VR began in the 90s, but it has recently begun to take shape as a result of advances in digital and video technology. In the last few years, we have seen virtual reality headsets become household items for many families. The idea of owning a personal VR system was once considered an expensive fantasy, but top-quality virtual reality headsets can now be purchased for $300.
With the increased accessibility of virtual reality technology, the metaverse became a reality.
What is the metaverse?
Although there's no one true definition, at its highest level, the metaverse is a digital platform that creates new and immersive social experiences for consumers. The term originated in the 1992 fiction novel, Snow Crash, but it has become a buzzword across the world since, especially after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced in 2021 that the social media giant was rebranding as Meta Platforms, Inc.
Brian Chen, New York Times contributor, explains Zuckerberg’s metaverse, stating, “In what techies like Mr. Zuckerberg call the metaverse, virtual reality serves as a computing platform for living a second life online. In virtual reality, you wear a headset that immerses you in a 3-D environment. You carry motion-sensing controllers to interact with virtual objects and use a microphone to communicate with others.”
Although it's referred to as the metaverse, it isn’t a single place, but rather several connected digital realms. Once inside the metaverse, visitors can create their own avatars, game, shop, work, hang out with friends, explore exotic locations from across the globe, and so much more.
How will the metaverse affect hospitality and tourism?
The rise of the metaverse is no cause for hospitality professionals to panic. Physical vacations are not going to be replaced with virtual travel experiences in the metaverse. In fact, vacation-goers often seek to avoid technological distractions and undergo “digital detoxing,” where they are free to step away from the barrage of digital communications we receive every day.
Tourism and travel will remain booming industries, but they now have a new avenue for connecting with consumers. Metaverse travel is not going to replace actual travel, but it can enhance the travel experience through virtual tourism.
The platform is providing individuals worldwide with new ways to experience travel and tourism from the comfort of their own home. Inside the metaverse, visitors can:
- Dance at nightclubs
- Attend live concerts
- Tour museums
- Attend conventions
- Reserve restaurants
- Explore casinos
- Compare hotels
- And so much more
The platform is providing new opportunities for consumers and travelers to visit attractions, attend events, compare products, and engage with hospitality brands they may not have had an opportunity to interact with otherwise. Budweiser, Stella Artois, and Marriott Bonvoy are three popular hospitality brands that joined the metaverse early.
Will travel in the metaverse impact hotel business?
While it's too early to predict any sort of massive impact, individuals across the hospitality industry, hotel professionals included, are realizing the various ways in which the power of the metaverse can be harnessed. Hoteliers are keeping a close eye on metaverse updates and discovering ways to use the platform to help improve their:
- Sales and marketing strategies
- Revenue management techniques
- Day-to-day operating procedures
- Guest experience
Within the metaverse, hoteliers can expand their offerings to boost revenue, widen their audience reach, and connect with a new target market: Virtual tourists.
Marketing opportunities in the hospitality metaverse
Welcome to the next level of experiential marketing. Instead of scrolling through still images, guests can step into an immersive experience as they tour your business or participate in a demonstration of your products. Customers can compare businesses, attractions, services, and even hotel accommodations virtually.
There are tons of digital marketing opportunities for hospitality professionals to explore in the metaverse, including the ability to:
- Purchase ad placements
- Run product placements
- Host virtual events
- Offer brand NFTs for purchase
- Create your own metaverse
The metaverse has created a new way for travelers to plan holidays, vacations, nature retreats, and other getaways. Consumers will be able to take a stroll through competing hotel lobbies before they ever visit the area. Prospective travelers will be able to “window shop” hotels in the metaverse through immersive 3D virtual tours and other engaging experiences. They can explore different room types, scope out the spa, or check out the fitness center’s gym equipment.
The metaverse has also provided a new way for industry professionals to connect with corporate buyers, stakeholders, event planners, and so on. Travel planners can really see what their event or group experience will be like at your venue. Offer a virtual tour of your meeting space, advertise your wedding venue, highlight interactive floor plans, and so much more inside the metaverse.
- Contact your brand support team for guidelines and implementation updates.
- Identify potential experiential marketing opportunities for your hospitality business in the metaverse.
- Keep a close eye on how the competition is advertising inside the metaverse.
Drive more revenue in the metaverse
In addition to providing a new marketing channel for hospitality professionals, the expansion of the metaverse has created a new tool for driving revenue in the industry. Hotels, for example, can utilize the metaverse to boost weekday bookings, target bleisure travelers, increase extended-stay bookings, or help accomplish a variety of other hotel revenue management objectives.
The metaverse can also be used as a new upsell tool for hoteliers and other industry insiders. Revenue managers can increase profits by encouraging interested customers to explore upgraded room types, additional product offerings, food and beverage add-ons, and optional experience packages.
Event planners can promote top-tier ticket sales through the metaverse by offering a virtual tour of VIP event areas or a “virtual backstage pass” to all the action. Sell tickets to virtual seminars, networking events, or spa services, such as a guided virtual meditation.
In 2021, Gucci created their own metaverse installment, a “Gucci-themed world.” In the Gucci metaverse, consumers can explore a virtual Gucci Garden that hosts 15 of Gucci’s most impressive ad campaign sets. In addition, customers can purchase one-of-a-kind virtual products. A virtual Gucci handbag was even sold for $4,115.
- Identify your target metaverse market segment.
- Brainstorm revenue objectives that a presence in the metaverse could help achieve.
Travel and tourism NFTs in the metaverse
Many different industries are taking advantage, with massive brands like McDonald’s, State Farm, and Marriott Bonvoy unveiling NFTs for sale. At Art Basel Miami Beach 2021, a contemporary art show, Marriott released 3 NFTs as part of “Power of travel” campaign announcing that they made their arrival in the metaverse. Interested bidders were able to purchase the digital art NFTs with cryptocurrency, another big player in the metaverse.
To boost brand awareness and excitement for Marriott’s loyalty program among art enthusiasts, the hotel brand revealed an NFT countdown clock. At the end of the countdown, the NFT code would be released. This targeted NFT-based marketing campaign put Marriott at the forefront of metaverse marketing and secured its place in the emerging metaverse.
- Explore NFT and cryptocurrency opportunities for your business.
Day-to-day operations in the metaverse
The metaverse is an exciting new resource hospitality professionals can use to communicate with their audience members, but it is also a powerful tool for internal communications. Through the metaverse, professionals can now connect with team members, remote employees, corporate managers, off-site teams, and industry executives at the highest levels — all virtually.
Roomza Hotels, a tech-enabled hospitality brand, is launching a new “rooms-only” hotel concept in 2023 that fully embraces metaverse travel and digital tourism trends. The keyless hotel-style rooms “with a metaverse twist” will be available for booking inside mixed-use buildings and fueled by eco-friendly business operations. At Roomza Hotels, there are no physical lobbies or meeting spaces for guests to explore. Instead, guests will have the opportunity to connect to communal hotel spaces virtually in the metaverse, all without ever actually leaving their rooms.
“The novelty is when you’re in a Roomza, you can go to our (digital) lobby bar, and you can sit next to someone and have a drink and they’re in Dusseldorf and you’re in New York City,” founder Curtis Crimmins explained. “There could be a cool interactive drink menu that floats in front of you and you could make the same cocktails (in your room) and have a global experience, right from the comfort of your room.”
While tech will never replace people as the true heart of hospitality, it can help struggling businesses increase efficiency by further automating customer booking and purchasing processes. Short-staffed hotels, restaurants, event venues, and other businesses can utilize advances in digital technology to help balance the increased labor costs affecting the hospitality industry.
- Analyze changes in your labor costs and determine if developing a presence in the metaverse could help offset expenses.
- Look for opportunities to improve operating efficiency by allowing the hospitality metaverse to work on your behalf.
10 tips for hotels exploring the hospitality metaverse
1. Estimate the costs of implementing metaverse technology and establish a metaverse marketing budget. Analyze the costs of adding tech to public spaces, in guest rooms, or hotelwide.
2. Set a goal to beat the competition by becoming the first metaverse hotel in your comp set.
3. Discuss transient travel and group marketing opportunities for your hotel in the metaverse. Create personalized and targeted metaverse experiences for different market segments.
4. Determine your hotel’s most profitable add-ons and upsell opportunities: room upgrades, purchasable amenities, service packages, additional points packages, etc.
5. Identify three top revenue objectives the metaverse can help your hotel accomplish.
6. Create NFTs or virtual passport stamps for current and prospective guests to collect.
7. Engage with hotel guests and communicate important information via a virtual itinerary. Guests can pay your hotel a virtual visit to view a calendar of local events, weather notifications, traffic pattern changes, limited time offers, and more.
8. Utilize the metaverse as a unique alternative to hotel mobile check-in. In addition to reducing long lines at the front desk and making the check-in process more efficient, the metaverse creates an additional touchless check-in option for hotels.
9. Encourage guests to collect virtual keepsakes from their travels to store in the metaverse.
10. Develop a “play-to-earn” style hotel customer loyalty program that allows consumers to earn rewards for completing activities in the metaverse. By virtually visiting different areas of the hotel or by participating in branded metaverse challenges, rewards members will receive access to exclusive coupons, offers, and promotional codes.
Stay on top of hospitality and hotel operations inside the metaverse
Keep up with important news, updates, and developments in hotel digital technology to stay ahead of the competition. Set alerts for new information regarding metaverse business operations, marketing opportunities, interface updates, and other helpful topics.
Next up, we take a look at other hotel marketing trends dominating the industry.