Virtual reality–a reality for travel?

Could the virtual reality of the metaverse become a competitor reality for travel providers? Not yet might be the short answer, but given the developments going on the world, and some hotels putting themselves in the metaverse, can travel businesses afford to be indifferent to the future trends.

TT Bureau

Did you know that Jamiroquai’s 1996 album ‘Travelling Without Moving’ was actually a prediction about the coming metaverse? OK I made that up. But the album’s title is indeed the big question on everyone’s lips in travel. Could the virtual reality of the metaverse become a competitor reality for travel providers? Not yet might be the short answer.

Firstly because you need expensive kit you can’t buy just anywhere. Then you need to set yourself up with a tutorial and, guess what, you need a Facebook account: It’s several hours in before you can really start. Then the rather heavy headsets can make your head hurt or feel nauseous. Most surprising of all is that the metaverse everyone is talking about in the media – that of SimCity type worlds, where you can explore and build stuff – basically doesn’t exist yet. Decentraland is the one gaining all the news, but guess what? There isn’t a virtual reality
version yet.

Currently nothing really goes beyond gaming applications, so is there anything happening yet that is travel related? Of course, there are some exceptions. There is an app called Wander that lets you, well, wander through Google Maps Street View. And some hotels are putting themselves in the metaverse too. So, does all of this mean that the metaverse will just be a fad that travel does not need to embrace? No. Thinking that way would be just as much of a mistake as dismissing the Internet would have been.

There are a great many travel relevant applications for it is, certainly, at the inspiration stage. For intermediaries, it becomes not just another point of sale, but one that could be really powerful in selling – taking ‘let me show you some pictures’ to a whole new level. Customer service could be enhanced too. For travel businesses then the question is not should we be embracing the metaverse but rather a question of when.

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