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LUXURY TRAVEL AND YACHTING TRENDS OF THE FUTURE
The metaverse won’t replace travel, but it will be an effective way of selling it
Enabling prospective travellers to “try before they buy” will ensure customers are never disappointed
Our Luxury Travel and Yachting Trend Report has been designed to be a resource and a foundation for trend-based strategy for the next five years of luxury travel. Virtual reality has been around for years but with the dawn of the metaverse (driven by companies such as Meta, formerly Facebook), not only is consumer uptake expected to increase but so will the diversity of its applications. The metaverse may still be in its infancy but innovative travel companies such as Pelorus are already noticing how virtual reality can be used, not as a way to replace travel but to sell it. Mark Zuckerberg says: “The defining quality of the metaverse will be a feeling of presence – like you are right there with another person or in another place.” When it comes to putting together ambitious itineraries, being able to offer a Metaverse Preview will help boost confidence among high-spending clients.
By enabling prospective travellers to immerse themselves in a 360-degree version of the place they are considering going to, they can essentially “try before they buy”. And when customers are spending large amounts of money on trips, this kind of technology will help ensure they are never disappointed. For an industry such as travel which centres on “real life” experiences and is historically slow to adopt new technology, it might seem unnatural to be looking deeply into a space that is purely digital. However, when looking at specific use cases, the rise of virtual worlds opens up many new opportunities for operators to build closer relationships with their customers and service them in more meaningful or inspirational ways.
This could be via virtual travel consultancy sessions that feel much more intimate, to providing an avatar-led tour of a remote hotel or location, delivered through a VR headset. When Apple debuts its forthcoming VR/AR headset in 2023, this will likely be a game- changer. In the meantime, Meta announced pre-sales of its new “mixed reality” headset – Meta Quest Pro – in October 2022
21 million – number of people who visited Nike’s virtual metaverse store Nikeland, in the first five months of its existence in 2022.
US$42 billion – estimated value of the global metaverse market by 2026. [Source: Strategy Analytics]
As far as we know, there is no large travel agency with its HQ in the metaverse, but with companies such as JP Morgan building virtual offices designed to service metaverse-based customers from anywhere in the world (Onyx), it is easy to see this being adopted in a similar fashion with tour operators looking to offer a similarly high level of personal service in a more efficient and scalable manner. Whilst the technology needs wider-scale development, innovative companies such as Imageen which takes history buffs on walks around ancient sites suggest it won’t be long until this kind of creative storytelling will become part of the sales processes.
Also related to the shift to Web3 (a new iteration of the internet) is the rise of crypto. As cryptocurrency moves beyond the early adopters and enters the mainstream, innovators in the luxury travel space are creating ways for the 320 million crypto owners globally to spend their digital wealth. Showing its commitment to this new shift, Pelorus started accepting Bitcoin, Ethereum, USD Coin and USD Tether for bookings in September 2022, via a partnership with Hayvn. Jonathan Wood, chief commercial officer for Hayvn, says: “Our business solutions enable businesses such as Pelorus to receive cryptocurrency payments from anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds. Allowing clients to pay using cryptocurrency opens up a new market for global luxury travel and experiences.”
“Although blockchain-based technology has been around for several years, the practical implications and use cases in the travel industry are only now starting to be really explored in any detail within the travel space. On the one hand, we have the rise of NFTs which allow for new revenue streams and a closer relationship with your community of clients. On the other, we have incredible momentum and investment into more immersive and inspiring metaverse worlds. We believe the industry will start to widely adopt Web3 technology and are already involved with a number of projects that, over the next few years, aims to bring massive improvements when it comes to operational efficiency and, most importantly, our ability to inspire a new generation of ultra-luxury traveller.”
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