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The Metaverse Is Coming—but What Does That Mean for the Future of Travel?

If we never visited another virtual destination, it would be too soon. But, according to SXSW, the Metaverse has other plans, and we’re here for it.

SXSW is back! After a two-year hiatus, one of the world’s largest film and music festivals has drawn back its curtains once again to showcase up and coming artists and filmmakers. However, while SXSW is known for putting artists like Janelle Monáe, Amy Winehouse, Kid Cudi, and Katie Perry on the map, this year’s stars are tech and innovation. Hello Metaverse, Blockchain, and NFTs!

Sessions like, Into the Metaverse: Creators, Commerce and Connection, hosted by Daymond John and Mark Zuckerberg, were a huge draw at this year’s SXSW. The two touched on how immersive experiences like augmented and virtual reality will redefine how we work, play, and connect.

How Will the Metaverse Revolutionize Travel?

In the aftermath of COVID, several organizations shifted their focus and started giving virtual destination tours to accommodate those who could not physically visit the locations. Many passengers had had enough of it, just as many work-from-home professionals had had enough of Zoom meetings. As with Zoom, virtual location visits lacked the same impact as in-person trips. Therefore, it would be too soon if we never had to perform another.

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Nevertheless, with the emergence of virtual reality and the Metaverse, these tours are getting more intricate and engaging, rather than just a standard two-dimensional experience. Panelists speaking at SXSW from organizations such as TripAdvisor and American Airlines agree that the Metaverse will undoubtedly impact the travel experience in the upcoming years. Organizations like Native Land are making a huge impact right now by telling stories and extracting information from Indigenous lands in a sustainable way, all through immersive technologies.

The Next Chapter of the Internet

While the concept “Metaverse” has been tossed around in recent years, it was initially coined by Neal Stephenson in 1992, covered extensively in his Sci-Fi novel Snow Crash. Currently, experts see the Metaverse as a three-dimensional representation of the internet. It is a virtual environment that exists alongside the actual world and is where you spend your digital life. A space in which you and other users each have an avatar and communicate with one another through their avatars.

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, spoke about the Metaverse at SXSW alongside co-host Daymond John, the CEO of FUBU and star of the hit television show, Shark Tank. Zuckerberg has promised to develop his corporation into a “Metaverse company” during the next five years. He refers to it as “the next chapter of the internet.” What began with only texts and pictures on Facebook, progressed to videos, and led to the interactive phase of the Metaverse. According to Zuckerberg, “Other tech companies are trying to create platforms for people to connect better with technology. Facebook is creating a platform for people to connect better with people.”

How the Metaverse Can Make Travel More Inclusive And Accessible

Nowadays, an increasing number of individuals plan their travels using social media. But, let’s face it, travel sometimes can be quite expensive, and many don’t have the means to explore the world. However, individuals now have the opportunity to try things out in the Metaverse instead of paying money to go to a physical location. Because not everyone can afford to travel, the Metaverse provides a means of discovering new places.

After hearing Zuck’s spiel and getting a better idea of the Metaverse, I still wondered, is this something people really want?

The power to teleport to any location on the globe at any time and experience anything first-hand and in real-time will fundamentally alter our experience with travel. Envision never having to wait for a flight or being concerned about missing a tour bus. Instant access to any virtual location is precisely what millions of people will choose over real-world travel.

After hearing Zuck’s spiel and getting a better idea of the Metaverse, I still wondered, is this something people really want? Especially after two years of essentially living life virtually. In my opinion, yes. While there is nothing that can replace first-hand, real-life experiences, having the access and ability to escape without physically escaping could benefit us all.

Consider this: if you can see and experience the place before booking your vacation, you may be more inclined to follow through. And this is excellent news for travel organizations of all sizes. In addition, virtual reality might assist visitors who are hesitant to go outside of their comfort zones. If you have ever visited a strange place and felt unsafe or uneasy, virtual reality may be able to help you overcome those worries. If you are traveling, whether for pleasure or business and dislike the accommodations, a virtual reality tour may help you decide whether or not you want to book those accommodations.

Furthermore, Metaverse travel and tourism solutions have the potential to significantly improve booking procedures by delivering critical information and experiences that cannot be adequately supplied in other methods. This increases the likelihood of a consumer completing their booking experience rather than canceling.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the Metaverse has the potential to make it easier for people to enjoy and immerse themselves in holistic travel experiences. This way, we may learn more about the people, places, and cultures throughout the globe and interact with them on a deeper level.