Tourism: The hospitality sector is interested in new technologies

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Metaversion and virtual reality are seen as “real opportunities for discovering territories and experiences”.

Virtual reality gives you the opportunity to visit before booking.

AFP

Staying in a hotel from the living room or skiing down the ski slope without even putting on your skis: tourism and hospitality professionals are increasingly interested in the possibilities offered by new technologies for interacting with their customers.

“The first reflex is to see something new as a threat. But in fact, these are real opportunities for discovering territories and experiences, especially when the client is in the fantasy of his trip,” said Vangelis Panagiotis, President of MKG Consulting, a French travel expert.

Professionals may fear that some potential future travelers will choose to dive near the Great Barrier Reef or visit the Taj Mahal through a virtual reality helmet. In fact, the pandemic has accelerated digital usage. And a general reflection on the ill effects tourism on people and environment in the most popular destinations may encourage people to travel less.

Offer new opportunities

Gilles Maillet, director of travel, travel and mobility at Meta, the parent company of Facebook, does not share this fear: on the contrary, at the Food Hotel Tech exhibition in Paris on June 7 and 8, he felt that the metaverse, he said, could offer new opportunities for professionals.

Entering the metaverse is now a reality for Dutch hotel chain CitizenM, which opened its first location in March at The Sandbox.

“Right now, this is a learning phase to understand what a customer-centric experience might look like in an increasingly digital world. But we think experience can co-exist with what we do in the real world rather than compete with it. This can allow us to interact with our audience in the same way as in the real world,” said a spokesman for the AFP group.

Virtual Reality at Club Med

Club Med (stops at holiday clubs around the world) is betting on virtual reality: since 2017, customers can visit the club wearing a helmet before booking. Most recently, the group ran a communications campaign by giving several influencers Meta-designed Ray-Ban Stories glasses to film themselves on the slopes outside their clubs in the Alps.

In addition, “we are using a new tool that allows indoor and outdoor visits at different times of the year and at different times of the day for our clients who want to purchase a chalet in our new project,” explains Club Med.

An immersive visualization that “convinces and accelerates decision-making” and is in line with the evolution of habits: “before, 80% of our sales were face-to-face”, but since the deployment of this visualization, “half is done”. remotely.

Hybridization of experience

These uses remain, while still anecdotal, at the sector level, even as “all hotel chains are working to bridge the real and virtual worlds,” says Julien Maldonato, Deloitte’s financial consulting partner. Because opportunities are important, according to experts, which provide for the hybridization of experience, real and online, which will allow travelers to live their stay in a different way.

We can consider equipment to go where we didn’t plan to go.

Vangelis Panayiotis, President of MKG Consulting

“We can consider equipment that allows us to go where we did not plan to. For example, plan a Red Sea vacation or a Nile cruise and visit the pyramids in virtual reality with sound and smell sensors,” explains Vangelis Panayiotis.

Or, through a digital copy of the hotel, offer a complete experience to customers who “can interact digitally to order services, visualize a spa before going there, or a sandwich before ordering it. It’s potentially better for the hotel to sell and promote other products and services, Mr. Maldonato said.

In this way, the hotel industry can re-establish a direct connection with customers that is currently monopolized by booking platforms. “This web 3.0 poses a major mediation threat to the mainstream platforms,” says Vincent Maldonato, with “more freedom” for customers and “more direct relationships for hotels and even greater intimacy.” “The most powerful platforms are already thinking about how to develop their skills,” he says.

(AFP)