TagsHospitality & Travel, Hotels, metaverse
What can hotels do to stand out from competitors in both the virtual and real worlds?
Much has been speculated about the Metaverse, the virtual network of digital spaces where users, represented by avatars, interact. It can also be the connection between the virtual and real world as the technology advances to enhance users’ life seamlessly.
While metaverse hospitality won’t soon replace conventional hospitality, it creates possibilities for the industry’s future with VR room tours, virtual events, NFTs, and more.
A Coin Has Two Sides
Hoteliers may be zealous about the advent of the metaverse, but there is something they may overlook in the process. Meeting guests’ evolving expectations is always a key challenge in hospitality. With brands jumping onto the bandwagon of the metaverse, guests, especially tech-savvy ones, are sure to raise their standards and expect above and beyond hospitality.
At most, the metaverse hospitality experience can satisfy two senses: our sight and hearing, thereby raising the expectations on virtual hotels to compensate for the lack of a full, traditional experience. As more hotels extend their footprint into the virtual world, we can foresee fiercer competition among brands not only in the metaverse but also in our physical reality.
Martha Waslen, founder and CEO of the online booking platform Dayaway, which recently entered the metaverse
The metaverse offers a challenge for brands to stand out from competitors. But that could also present risks, according to Martha Waslen, a Web3 innovator and the founder and CEO of DayAway, an online destination for booking luxurious hotel experiences, which recently also made its foray into the metaverse. Traditional hospitality and travel brands must be wary of entering the metaverse without “properly communicating to their audience how this transition to Web3 fits in with their brand and how it will improve the customer experience.” In other words, hotels could put their brand integrity at risk if their metaverse launch is not properly executed.
“Potential mistakes could be launching brand experiences on metaverse platforms that ‘cheapen’ the brand integrity of the hotel, or gimmicky activations like selling rooms as NFTs that actually complicate the guest experience instead of improving it,” Waslen says. “To be honest, some things don’t need NFTs or Web3 integrations, so forcing it will not bode well to those who choose to go down this path. Like anything, approaching it with intention and care is needed in the transition to Web3.”
Service Still Matters
While metaverse hospitality, if done right, can extend brand immersion and attract new clientele, service is vital in retaining guests and turning them into loyal customers, considering fierce competition, higher guest expectations, and the sheer number of options available in the future. In addition to providing adaptive service that fulfills guests’ ever-changing expectations, it can be even more challenging to impress or surprise guests upon their arrival, after they have likely seen virtual enhancements. To cultivate guest loyalty, hotels will need to come up with innovative and creative offerings outside of the ordinary.
Waslen also shares how guest experience has become of utmost importance: “Guests are ultimately booking hotels based on experience first, and rooms second.” How guests discover, engage, and build affinity with hospitality and travel brands is set to evolve, and with more hotels joining the metaverse, service is the only reliable factor in this ever-evolving industry. Hotel brands need to reconsider every step of the guest journey to cater to their customers’ needs with the metaverse’s power to revolutionize the guest experience.
For example, Waslen shares, “Upon arrival, guests can unlock exclusive experiences through NFT-enabled membership. The entire experience doesn’t end there. When guests leave the hotel, imagine them taking a memento from the hotel stay in the form of a digital collectible NFT. They could also redeem loyalty points and incentives through an NFT-enabled marketplace after their stay.” The options, however, may be similar or even heterogeneous in the virtual world – virtual shopping, 3D room tours, and more. This creates more intense competition among brands, and when the virtual offerings are more or less the same, what matters is the offline service and experience for the guest.
There’s no question the hospitality industry, which requires physical presence and interactions, has suffered adversely amid the pandemic. The metaverse hospitality, with its host of new opportunities, can transform the industry and enhance the in-real-life (IRL) experience – but not replace it. After all, hospitality is about a host-guest relationship, and sometimes there is no substitute for personal interactions. While the metaverse can introduce a world of exciting possibilities, service is still king.
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