I don’t get it. Why would anyone spend real, hard-earned dollars on a virtual pair of sneakers? Like, a really expensive pair of virtual sneakers? Or pay $450,000 real U.S. dollars to buy virtual “land” near Snoop Dogg’s virtual home? Welcome to the metaverse – let’s explore a whole new digital world!
When I first heard about the metaverse, I thought it was a new Marvel movie. Then I started researching and found a future packed with virtual products, experiences, and augmented reality.
I began to think about how the metaverse might impact travel – especially now that virtual “visits” to destinations and attractions have become widely accepted. It seems the pandemic has launched an entirely new way to think about how we spend our leisure time!
What is the Metaverse?
The concept of the metaverse has been around for years, but the pandemic really launched it into the mainstream.
In basic terms, the metaverse is a combination of technologies that includes virtual reality, augmented reality, and a digital economy (think virtual reality video gaming, cryptocurrencies, immersive online shopping.)
It’s a shared space that is hyper-realistic, immersive, and interactive. You can step into the metaverse now using VR equipment, AR glasses, or just use your phone, device, or gaming console.
Below is the best explanation of the metaverse I’ve found if you want to check it out.
The Metaverse – Explore a New World of Travel Possibilities
The days of teleporting to a destination might be way off yet. However, we are already seeing the benefits of metaverse technology in small ways. For example, we use virtual maps to help navigate a destination. We enjoy virtual tours of museums or participate in online educational programs.
As we dip our toes into this new world, we can only imagine the implications for future travel. Perhaps we’ll be able to tour a hotel virtually and actually test the beds. Or maybe we’ll access a virtual concierge.
Virtual experiences like sporting events, guided tours, or restaurants are already available in the metaverse. Soon we may be able to plan entire tournaments, immersive destination tours, or virtual culinary trips to Italy.
Think about the student travel market… it may be possible to host a band festival in some far-flung location without students ever leaving the band room. Or plan a robotics trip with students from around the globe.
What if we can reserve real estate on a white sand beach (remember Nick Fury with a drink in his hand at the end of Spiderman Far from Home?) Metaverse real estate companies charging big bucks for virtual property already exist.
Opportunities for Travel Planners
Perhaps it’s time for travel planning companies to consider wading in. I found a metaverse travel agency while researching this post (I don’t understand how it works, but I did find one!) Start small and offer a virtual tour of the destination before taking the actual trip.
Or think a little bigger and jump into Decentraland, an entire 3D virtual world owned by its users. They create incredible structures, events, and experiences and charge other users to visit. Users can go to theme parks, see shows, visit galleries, play in a poker tournament, sing karaoke, and so much more.
There is limitless potential to explore in this new virtual world!
The Metaverse is Here to Stay
The Metaverse is in its infancy and growing, much like the internet of the early 90s. As it continues to take shape, opportunities for new and creative ways to think about travel and hospitality will certainly emerge.
But one thing is for sure – with users already spending millions, the metaverse is here to stay!