The next hottest market? The Metaverse – HOTELSMag.com

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For most of us, the metaverse is a fuzzy concept that’s hard to understand, let alone visit. How do I access the metaverse? Is there more than one metaverse? What are you doing there and who do you interact with? The answers to these questions are just as complicated as this virtual domain is rapidly evolving. But hotel brands that take the time to understand this will find limitless opportunities to grow their presence, both in the real world and in the metaverse.

Contributed by Juliana Shallcross

“This represents a whole new economy within the hotel system,” said David Keen, founder and CEO of Quo Global, a Bangkok-based hotel branding agency. “It represents possibilities for individual hotels, for brands, for hotel collections, to present themselves in ways they haven’t yet imagined.”

The metaverse is central to Web3.0, the term used to describe the next evolution of technology beyond websites, smartphones and social media. Web3.0 includes blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which dominated the artworld for the better half of 2021. And while these three concepts have been around for several years, this n Only recently have they come together as part of a larger digital universe, which many call the metaverse. In October, Facebook recently changed the name of its parent company to Meta in anticipation of the next iteration of virtual reality.

Yet the metaverse isn’t just one place. It refers to several digital realms where people, using avatars, can play, explore, shop, work, or just hang out. The kids who played Roblox non-stop while the pandemic kept them out of school? They are the youngest users of the metaverse. The rap star is organizing a virtual concert in the Fortnight game? This is how entertainment happens in the metaverse. The Decentraland “real estate” that sold for $2.4 million? This is how metaverse investing works.

“The deal opportunities are insane,” Keen said, adding that the world is only at the beginning of the metaverse economy. “We have a hell of a way to go in terms of operation.”

So far, hotel brands have only dipped their toes into the metaverse, primarily by selling NFTs. Marriott Bonvoy unveiled three NFTs at Art Basel Miami that were auctioned at the annual art show, along with 200,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Also at Art Basel, SLS South Beach and SLS Brickell announced a partnership with NFT BAZL to create exclusive NFTs that incorporate hotel benefits, VIP memberships and access to other events. The Dream Hotel in Hollywood recently opened an NFT exhibit in its lobby in partnership with The Crypt Gallery to display and sell digital NFTs.

Rendering of a Roomza prototype in Seattle

But a new hotel brand wants to make the Metaverse the place where all of its social programming and meetings will take place. Roomza is a rooms-only hotel concept founded by Curtis Crimmins that is slated to open in Seattle, Washington, Austin, Texas and New York in 2023 and 2024. Operating in mixed-use buildings and typically on two floors, Roomza offers guests rooms but not much else. There is no lobby, there is no bar and there is no meeting room. However, when a guest stays at a Roomza (or upgrades to a Roomza subscription), they will have access to all Roomza offerings in the metaverse, from virtual lounges and bars to virtual meeting spaces.

“The novelty is that when we are in a Roomza, we can go to our [digital] lobby bar, and you can sit next to someone and have a drink and they’re in Dusseldorf and you’re in New York,” Crimmins explained. “There could be a cool interactive drink menu floating in front of you and you could make the same cocktails [in your room] and live a global experience, directly in the comfort of your room.”

The opportunity for Roomza to host meetings in the metaverse is also exciting, Crimmins said. Driven by Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ belief that most virtual meetings in the future will take place in the metaverse, Crimmins wondered how Roomza could take advantage of virtual conventions where thousands of people can visit an environment. Roomza brand.

And when it comes to entertainment for Roomza guests, Crimmins believes the options are limitless, even if guests will never leave their rooms. “As long as you can engage them with your eyes and ears, you can do it in the metaverse,” he added.

Indeed, how hotels choose to interact with their audience in the metaverse will be different from current digital marketing strategies. Ana Andjelic, brand manager and author of “The Business of Aspiration” and “The Sociology of Business” newsletter, said hotels should focus on the experiences they can deliver to users in the metaverse, by much with tangible, digital or physical rewards. , instead of directing customers to a booking engine.

“I wouldn’t necessarily go to the metaverse to book anything. I would go for experiences,” Andjelic said. “The Metaverse is less about utility and more about experience.”

Andjelic said a future scenario for hotels in the Metaverse could be a “play to win” model where whatever guests earn in the Metaverse can be translated into physical rewards such as loyalty program points or a discount. reservation. However, the game or experience needs to be rooted in the larger customer acquisition and retention strategy, which is why hotel loyalty programs could work very well in the metaverse.

“If you’re not looking for ways to add value in the virtual world, or at the intersection of the virtual world and the built world, and I think you’re frankly giving up your responsibility to innovate.” – Curtis Criminals

The metaverse also opens many opportunities for hotels to form partnerships and collaborations with well-known brands like Nike, Adidas and Gucci who have already established a presence in this area. And with so many other companies building digital worlds in the metaverse, Andjelic said hotels wouldn’t need to build anything on their own, just find the spaces their target customers frequent and to go from there.

While it’s far too early to talk about the costs or return on investment of a metaverse marketing strategy, Crimmins said Roomza spends at least a third of its digital spend on the metaverse.

“If you’re not looking for ways to add value in the virtual world, or at the intersection of the virtual world and the built world, and I think you’re frankly giving up your responsibility to innovate,” Crimmins said .

And like everything in technology, there will be some resistance to the metaverse, especially from older generations. But Keen said no matter what one thinks of the metaverse, you still need to recognize it’s there, explore the opportunities it provides, and develop your brand identity within it in order to reach the generation. who has already adopted it.

“We’re not designing for me anymore, we’re not designing for you anymore, we’re designing for the younger generation,” Keen said.

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