THE METAVERSE - A NEW FRONTIER FOR BUSINESS?
Digital transformation has been catalysed by the pandemic and has allowed us to connect with each other, whilst being physically separated. Though not an entirely new concept, the Metaverse has been gaining ground with several global brands dipping their virtual toe into this shared space that’s still in its infancy. But what exactly is the Metaverse and what opportunities are there for businesses?
What is the Metaverse?
Essentially it’s a version of the internet bridging virtual and real worlds in a shared space that is hyper-realistic, immersive and interactive but has yet to be fully realised.
It’s powered by the use of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and blockchain technology, (the building blocks of Cryptocurrency).
There can be several virtual worlds inside a metaverse, where people can engage in exhilarating activities. Instead of simply staring at a screen, sophisticated wearables will offer real feel technology to perfectly blend the physical and virtual world.
In the Metaverse you'll be able to access a host of experiences like shopping, going to an event with people from all over the world, or perhaps exploring a destination of the past, such as ancient Egypt or Pompeii, or take yourself off to a remote tropical island to sip cocktails as the sun sets.
How can brands harness the power of the Metaverse?
The application of brands to be able to have both a virtual presence, complemented by physical sensory touchpoints, will deliver a truly immersive experience for their customers.
Some great examples of some brand’s pioneering activities include:
Nikeland, Nike’s metaverse store has had nearly 7 million people from around the world visit its metaverse store since it opened five months ago. Nikeland allows users to try on virtual products as well as take part in games such as dodgeball. On the Nikeland basketball court, NBA star, LeBron has coached and engaged with players, and participants were rewarded for physical gameplay with the ability to unlock virtual products.
In 2021, Stella Artois launched in the Metaverse with a virtual horse racing event and recently the brand launched purpose-driven metaverse collaboration with Water.org to offer a collection of over 1,000 aquatic-themed NFTs to coincide with World Water Day.
For each token sold, proceeds went to Water.org to provide people in the developing world with safe water.
Lego has announced a partnership with Epic, the maker of the Fortnite game, to develop a metaverse aimed at children to be launched within the next 12 months.
They will no longer view Lego's physical and digital products as separate, to become one experience, and are planning to expand its influence in the digital world by tripling its number of software engineers by the end of 2023.
Hospitality, Leisure and Events
For Hospitality, Leisure and Events, the opportunities are vast by providing unique, virtual experiences to customers and offering complementary metaverse experiences to enhance the more traditional guest experience.
Elevating the Booking Experience
With customers only having photos, videos, reviews and in some cases fairly clunky 3D tours to go on, the Metaverse will prove a much more immersive tour of a hotel, a presidential suite, a restaurant or event space. Using a digital avatar, a potential customer can experience the venue ahead of time to drive booking confidence and inspire booking upgrades.
Venues can also use the metaverse to improve the experience of the city or town they’re in by offering virtual destination tours where they can insider knowledge on local landmarks, museums, historical sights and cultural experiences.
The pandemic helped accelerate the adoption of virtual and hybrid events and the metaverse can further enhance this experience. For instance, imagine celebrating a birthday on the terrace of a mediterranean hotel. This beautiful hotel may be one that is part of a boutique brand with shared menus and wine lists, and event spaces that cater for special occasions in the metaverse. Guests who were unable to make the trip could all be eating and drinking from the same menus, visible to all in an augmented reality. Atmospheric controls can ensure that the temperature adjusts to replicate the sun slowly setting, the smells of the freshly baked focaccia and the feel of a gentle sea mist created as the waves crash onto the nearby beach.
Enhanced in-room amenities
Hotels can really define their offering with their amenities. If you can offer equipment with metaverse compatibility, it will be an added selling point. It also opens up for brand collaborations to deliver added experiences from wellness experiences such as yoga, mindfulness to helping cross-sell other destinations by providing a fully immersive experience.
The new passport stamp: NFT collectables
An NFT – non-fungible token – is a digital asset that represents a real-world object like artwork, video, music - even Designer trainers.
Hotels could provide NFT’s as gifts commemorate guest stays or recognise brand loyalty, or they could be on the verge of a new and unlimited upselling opportunity with travellers who want something special to remember.
Marriott group released 3 NFT’s in a competition as part of their ‘Power of Travel’ campaign to announce their arrival into the metaverse, becoming one of the first hotel industry brands to explore NFT’s.
So despite its infancy, the metaverse has huge application for brands, particularly in the hospitality sector from attracting and up-selling guests to improving events at hotel locations and improving the guest experience. With an eye on tomorrow, it will be increasingly important to factor in your brand’s presence as part of long-term company vision.
At Halo, we’ve been speaking to businesses who are exploring the Metaverse, providing our business advisory services to align with each company’s overall objectives. If you’d like to talk to us about enhancing your customer experience, marketing and communications please contact us via our contact form, email email@example.com or call +44 (0)783 5994647.