Facebook’s parent company rebranded itself as “Meta” in October this year. The founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave a detailed tour of the metaverse, a fusion of physical and digital reality. This was seen by people around the world as a revolutionary step into the future that will change our experiences forever. Zuckerberg called it an embodied Internet where you are in the internet, not just looking at it.
But what does metaverse really mean? How will it affect our lives, especially the luxury travel industry? Will this radical progress in virtual reality make people stop traveling? Let’s find out.
What is the metaverse?
As of now, the majority of our online experiences are limited to screens. But the metaverse will change that, it will allow us an opportunity to go inside the internet itself.
We have already seen a trailer of it in the form of VR headsets like oculus and 360-degree photos and videos. The metaverse will be a much more detailed and immersive progression of that.
One of the most interesting things this virtual world will allow you to do is to be present at different locations where you will be able to meet people and perform activities like shopping, playing games, or even work. Zuckerberg explained it with an example of a concert, where you can meet your friends in the form of a hologram and enjoy the music together.
This doppelganger universe will work with a deep interconnectivity of virtual reality headsets, smartphones, reality glasses, and other devices. Essentially, it will be an ecosystem of different technologies that will all compliment each other to create another “virtual world” that you can come in and out of.
Virtual reality in travel
For those who don’t know, virtual reality refers to the art of producing videos of images that you can explore from all angles in 360 degrees. In effect, it allows people to have a much detailed view of a place as compared to a video or image.
On the face of it, virtual reality seems to be detrimental to the travel industry. Why would people get into hours-long flights, hike all day to a summit, and spend loads of money when they can look at the same place through a VR headset in the comfort of their house? But it’s not that simple. That is why VR technology has not been as successful in the travel industry as you might expect. Oculus had an estimated goal of 1 billion sales but has only sold 300,000 headsets.
Will the metaverse end travel as we know it?
Firstly, it is still in a developing stage and it would be too early to give a verdict. But as far as we know, the metaverse or virtual reality as a whole is far from providing the “real experience”. Even if the scenes become ultra high definition, travelers know that it’s not just about looking at things. It is a complete experience that includes everything from the smells to the weather and most importantly, in the vibe of the place.
The breeze that caresses your skin while you go through the Highlands of Scotland cannot be depicted in your VR headset. The sense of spirituality and awe you feel in Jerusalem is unmatched by anything the metaverse has to present. Looking at a 360 view of the peak of Mount Everest is nothing compared to the sense of achievement you get when you actually climb up there. So it is safe to say that the metaverse cannot replace reality, it is not here to annihilate the travel industry.
Benefits of the metaverse in travel
In fact, many traveling businesses are already using this technology to their advantage. It helps them provide a “try before you buy” option to their customers. Be it a hotel room or a tourist destination, VR can give you a glimpse of reality. So you know exactly what the place is like and don’t have to be disappointed when you actually get there. Knowing what you’re going to get yourself into beforehand gives you confidence. Even the places and hotels that are not getting enough visitors right now because people don’t want to take risks, can build a convincing case for themselves by providing virtual walkthroughs.
Not everyone can afford luxury travel. Most of the high-end resorts and hotels are way above an average person’s budget. Virtual reality can also help those people who want to experience luxury firsthand but cannot afford it. More importantly, it can also be a blessing for elders and anyone who cannot travel to far-off locations easily.
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