If you have not been paying attention to the digital world’s latest advances—actual, proposed, or in-development—, then there is one word above all else that you ought to familiarize yourself with: Metaverse.
The word went global after Facebook, stumbling from the wound of last fall’s highly-publicized testimony about the company’s internal operations given by a former employee and current whistleblower, decided to announce a name change to Meta, which stood for, you guessed it, the Metaverse.
What is the Metaverse?
Even if you are familiar with the term, you may be wondering what the (not a) metaverse is, exactly. Even if you know that, you might not realize the extent to which the metaverse will affect our daily lives. For instance, did you ever conceive that you would be able to virtually do your grocery shopping, via Walmart, in the metaverse?
The metaverse is like an enhanced version of virtual reality, where you are able to escape into an artificial world, but find within that world elements from reality, such as a friend, or a Walmart, where you can buy actual food with actual money.
In a way, it is an extension, or evolution, of what the parts of the internet dedicated to computer-mediated interaction (CMC), such as social media sites. What these virtual spaces do is allow people the opportunity to enjoy CMC with more control than they have in regular interaction.
For example, you can make several drafts of an email or text message to someone, but you cannot edit your own words so easily, and with so much time, in face-to-face interaction.
In the metaverse, you will be able to enjoy the same physical detachment that affords you the same control in self-presentation as other forms of CMC, including the increased mental detachment to the stimuli in these spaces, which in itself gives you more power in communication. (Our mental detachment felt towards what we see online naturally follows the physical detachment from what is seen on our screen, like it or not.)
Play chess with friends, host a business meeting, go for a walk in the virtual park—it is all up to you in the metaverse.
However, work and play are not your only options in the metaverse. As it turns out, the scope the tech world has set for it is pretty massive, a prime example of which can be found in the inclusion of the hospitality industry in the metaverse.
Hotel, Motel, Metaverse Inn
Would you step foot in a metahotel?
The nice thing about metahotels is that there are no bedbugs to worry about, for one.
In a metahotel, your avatar—your personalized, preened, and primped digital version of yourself that will be like a video game character, in a sort of way—will be able to enjoy a highly personalized experience in, say, a MetaMarriott (whether they will use this name or not is up to the company). Drinks in the bar, a dip in the pool, a fancy dinner, all from the comfort of the couch in your apartment.
What is the point of this, you may be thinking? Where does the appeal lie?
Well, for one, this can offer potential travelers an immersive “try before you buy” experience of a hotel. If you are planning on booking an expensive trip abroad to a fancy city, such as Paris, taking a virtual tour of the digital version of the hotels you are interested in can help influence your decision.
Users will also be able to sample the customer services, allowing them to see which hotel has the friendliest and most accommodating staff.
Sight-Seeing in Metaresorts
Metaresorts may be more popular than metahotels when it comes to full-on experiences, since many resorts are sight-seeing adventures.
Experiencing sights and sounds that one cannot find in their apartment is one of the biggest draws of virtual reality, and, really, filmed entertainment and internet spaces, so offering people to take virtual tours of beautiful resorts in, say, the Bahamas, and at a reduced price, can be a huge draw for a good number of metaverse users.
You might not be taking a virtual trip to a Ritz Carlton anytime soon, but that does not mean that the hospitality industry is already working to make such things a (virtual) reality for users who, in the coming decades, will be increasingly reliant on the metaverse for their social interaction and experience of the world.