The hospitality industry. Probably the worst affected industry hit by covid. Data recorded by HMRC showed that in 2020, just under 1,650,000 employees in the sector were on furlough as businesses paused trading. And overall, the turnover for the hospitality sector has remained below its 2019 levels throughout the pandemic, with May 2021 25% lower than May 2019.
This being said events managers, creative directors, and owners have been working immensely hard to try to keep their business afloat and have been coming up with innovative ways to keep up with the sudden change. One of these ideas being, online events.
Online events have been around for quite some time however, they never gained much popularity as people’s thoughts were – ‘why would we want to meet online if we could do it in person?’. However, this culture soon changed once the pandemic hit. A survey conducted by Statista in 2021 confirmed that virtual events have increased in popularity by 35% since 2020 while, hybrid and in-person events have reduced by 32%. So our question is…
How can the metaverse affect the hospitality industry?
Thanks to Zuckerberg rebranding Facebook to Meta, the world has been going crazy over the word, metaverse. Now big brands such as Mariott Hotels, Budweiser and Stella Artois are starting to jump on the bandwagon and want to leave their mark in the metaverse. But, these are just a few of the brands in the hospitality sector that have started to get involved. Let’s have a closer look into each section that makes up the hospitality industry and see what brands are getting involved…
Marriott International was one of the first hotels to explore the concept of NFTs. In 2021 the company experimented in the art community when it gave away three digital art NFT’S at the Art Basel Miami Beach 2021:
MΞMORIED by Tarek Mustapha and won by Andre Oshea.
The Emotional Journey by Jared “Jay” Richardson and won by McFly.
The Experiential In Between by Erick Nicolay and won by Renderfruit.
Food and Drink
One brand taking the plunge into the metaverse is the fast-food chain, Mcdonald’s. In December, they partnered with Offline TV to create a virtual event which ran alongside a real-life event held in LA. The metaverse event included a scavenger hunt for McDonald’s imagery that could be used to collect digital prizes i.e., wallpaper for phones.
Then later in February, there were rumours that the brand was even considering launching a virtual McDonald’s store. Their supposed plan was to create a virtual store that would allow gamers to place an order, which would then be prepared and delivered by the restaurant in person.
Travel and Tourism
Travelling in a new country or town can be daunting but thanks to advancing technology such as SKYNAV it can help relieve the pressure and stress travelling brings. This platform can create virtual sales/bookings, and guided real-time tours for their business partners to provide to their customers. They have already worked with large hospitality brands such as Hilton, Holiday Inn and Marriott which has been shown to improve customer service and engagement.
Would this ease your stress when travelling?
Some of the biggest names in the music industry have hosted virtual concerts in the metaverse. Among the first to host a successful online concert were Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande.
Fortnite collaborated with Ariana Grande to bring their users a gamified event with Ariana’s music to listen to as they played. The singer also looked like a Fortnite character, and her skin is now available for purchase within the game.
Wave is also another technology company that partnered with Justin Bieber to create… Justin Bieber – An Interactive Virtual Experience. This event combined gaming with real-life motion capture, and live musical performance. The singer was also able to transform and provided a live show featuring songs from his album, Justice.
So, what are the benefits of virtual experiences in the hospitality industry?
- No limitation on your location
You could be hundreds of miles from your colleagues/friends and connect and interact in the same virtual environment just like you would in real life.
Create interactive experiences for people to communicate online in a realistic way from the comfort of their own home or anywhere in the world.
Due to the limitless potential a virtual experience provides compared to any other 2D platform or website, it keeps your customers engaged for longer.
What is the potential?
The metaverse is rapidly advancing and the future and potential are endless for many sectors…
- Imagine if you could virtually walk around the city you are travelling to, so you could get a feel of what’s around
- Imagine hosting cooking classes to show your customers how to make their favourite dishes at home.
- Imagine being able to watch your favourite artist at the front of a concert without queueing for hours on end
In conclusion, the metaverse has many positive aspects that can make our online experiences more realistic. However, a lot of people within the hospitality sector remain scared that the metaverse could take over our real-life experiences and lose the social aspect the hospitality industry brings to billions of people around the world. A study conducted by Statista in 2022 found that 19% of people were concerned by the metaverse and a further 27% were uninterested. Now although these numbers are high, the metaverse is just getting started and with large well-recognised brands already making their mark in the metaverse, people will start to trust and believe in the metaverse. We can’t wait to see what the future looks like!
But hold on, it’s not just big establishments pushing towards the future…
Metaverse Hub is a fully content-managed platform that allows people to create their own space in the metaverse. In 2021 Metaverse Hub partnered with Inntel who welcomed hundreds of suppliers to their virtual event to showcase their brands and venues. The Inntel teams visited each stand, interacted with suppliers and gained insights into each supplier’s recent activities. Suppliers were able to capture details of each stand visitor and Inntel could track the attendance of team members, ensuring that all stands were visited.
Source: Metaverse Hub – Hotels Event
By eliminating the need to travel to a physical venue, the Metaverse Hub platform saved Inntel both time and money, while also minimising the carbon impact. Here are their thoughts…
‘Working in partnership with Metaverse Hub for a supplier showcase was an inspired decision made by our operational, IT and supply partnership teams working in collaboration with Metaverse Hub and our suppliers. Our team members were able to interact with all suppliers in a very time-efficient manner, chatting to suppliers via video, voice and messaging formats, watching videos, and downloading documents. The 3D format of the exhibition was incredibly engaging whilst having a minimal environmental impact. A real success and a win-win-win for our Supplier, for our team and Inntel.’
Author: Charlotte Lock
Published: 28th July 2022