After Mark Zuckerberg announced all the possibilities he foresaw in the Metaverse, many began to wonder: what will tourism look like in the future? According to some technology experts, Immersive Virtual Traveling and Virtual Reality Tourism hold immense tourism potential, especially given the urgency of curbing climate change. Some travelers are becoming more conscious about the way they choose to travel. Local destinations and Virtual Reality Tourism could become a desired option in a new world where constant air travel is no longer tenable.
The tourism alternatives that the Metaverse offers could be a complement with enormous potential, and this is an opinion also shared by tourism professionals. It will be an evolution of the market, but it will not be able to replace the travel experience, at least not in the near future.
A study entitled New Economy of Experience conducted by Dynata analyzed Metaverse tourism through a survey of 11,000 consumers in 11 countries, and concluded that 40% of respondents said they were interested in virtual travel. 51% even said they had been tempted by a virtual visit to a museum, art gallery or exhibition. Another survey, conducted by Accenture in 35 countries with 24,000 respondents, confirms this interest of the general public in these virtual immersions.
Finding that 50% of people are interested in previewing a travel experience, such as a hotel stay or a sightseeing activity drives interest in applying the Metaverse to tourism. This number rises to 55% in the “millennial generation.” In contrast, it stands at only 29% in the “baby boomer generation”.
The reasons given for choosing virtual travel can be numerous: because aversion to flying; a preference to stay at home during a pandemic or for reasons of illness; as a solution for mobility issues or impairments; a restricted vacation budget; or to avoid the fatigue of long trips in the case of elderly people.
According to Bernard Marr & Co, certain companies already offer immersive tours and virtual travel experiences of all kinds. Some examples include:
- Google Earth VR
- Overview Collection’s Escape Now
- Immerse from The Hydrous
- First Airlines’ first-class airline flights with four-course meals
Metaverse will allow the creation of advanced websites, which will facilitate the preparation of a trip by discovering in detail the tourist destinations and the experiences they offer before the trip.
Potential customers can be presented with composite tour products, and even make personalized adjustments at the moment before they purchase a vacation trip. Interactive virtual reality experiences can recreate real-world environments and provide travelers with a clear idea of what they might expect when they visit a particular destination.
Metaverse tourism solutions have the power to greatly enhance booking processes by providing valuable information that cannot be accurately delivered in other ways. This then makes it more likely that a customer will complete their booking journey, rather than back out. Hotels can use VR tours or to allow customers to walk around the premises. They could see how big the rooms are, and what facilities are on offer. Travel agents, meanwhile, can use VR tours to provide customers with life-like experiences of a location they wish to visit.
One can personalize the trip by choosing the historical sites to visit, and even shows available at the tourist destinations. It is an immersion of a vacation in advance and is much more enjoyable than a choice made through promotional brochures.
The system is still quite expensive because the technology is not yet fully developed. It will probably be a reality in five years, but not before. There are 25 systems in advanced stages of development, 150 moderately developed, and several thousand that are just beginning to appear.
It’s hard to know which one(s) will be at the forefront in the next few years. Experts estimate that it will take five to ten years for the Metaverse to start becoming dominant. There are large investments, the most well-known being the project that changed the name of Mark Zuckerberg’s company from Facebook to Meta, and this is just one of the many investments currently under development.