Will the Metaverse transform the travel industry?

You may have heard of the latest tech bursting from the minds at Facebook HQ, but just how much do we think it’s going to change life as we know it? After the past 2 years, things that once seemed impossible are much more firmly in the realm of possibility, but this doesn’t just seem impossible… It sounds like a sci-fi concept derived from an episode of Black Mirror!

If you’re new to the idea, the Metaverse seems to combine the immersive VR experience with social media, bringing a ‘Wreck It Ralph Breaks the Internet’-style world where we stand as our own custom avatars facing the precipice of immersive digital code.

So less comparisons – What could this mean for the travel industry? How can a sector beloved by both employees and holidaymakers change so much? Our knowledge, as well as the public knowledge of the Metaverse is still somewhat limited, so do take this blog with a pinch of salt.

If we look from a consumer perspective, anyone who can afford a state-of-the-art VR headset (which will probably be as accessible as a monthly bus pass in the coming years), will be able to step into a virtual world where they can see a universe of animated marvels. So, what if you could walk into a Balinese forest, onto the beaches of Dominican Republic or even to the mythical Lost City of Atlantis? Would the need to travel still be there?

The (virtual) reality is, once you take off your headset, you’ll still have your angry cat at your feet waiting for their evening scoop of food – so not much will change in real life. But what if the Metaverse could be more than your evening escape?

Imagine experiencing a destination you never would have considered on a try-before-you-buy basis, even walking around your potential hotel room to see what that £20 per person/per night upgrade will give you over the lead-in room. To see which seat on the plane you’ll spend 8 hours in, with insight beforehand whether you’ll be close enough to the exit that you’ll be at the front of the customs queue.

Would you give the Metaverse the chance to enhance your holiday booking experience, or is the concept slightly creepy? If you’ve seen the animated promo of Facebook’s own Mark Zuckerberg, you’ll probably be able to make that decision for yourself! Go ahead, Google it…

In a concept which seems otherworldly to us, the younger generation will naturally take like ducks to water; so give it 10 years and your child or grandchild might invite you to a game of bowling in VR – Something which will be painfully mundane to them but makes us feel a bit sick. They are however, hopefully, future travellers who might expect this “basic” technology as part of the travel agent experience.

As we say, there’s very little information we can report on before seeing something with our own eyes through a snuggly-fitting pair of goggles, but it’s certainly food for thought. Keen to jump on the band wagon, there are already businesses investing incredible amounts of money, hoping for a sizeable piece of the virtual pie… With rumours that a certain Caribbean country is opening a virtual embassy.

So what do you think? Will virtual reality become a new world we can simply charge and place on our heads for not only entertainment, but also shopping and even dating (Oh, let’s not get into that!)?

One thing is for sure, the travel industry remains as one of the most creative and inspirational sectors to both shop from and work in, so if the extraordinary is possible, it’s possible here.

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