The primary aim of this report is to provide a preliminary overview of the benefits of an immersive leisure experience within a virtual environment whilst also highlighting the possibilities of extending this domain to the hospitality sector. The adoption of smart-tourism is expected to promote a significant increase in the revenue growth and development in the overall metaverse market. The unique attributes of such an immersive experience creates a blended change in the in the manner in which consumers shop for destinations, accommodation, and attractions. As showcased within the report, the utilisation of a metaverse-leisure environment allows for users to engage in social networking, personal dialog and/or interpersonal collaboration whilst also undergoing elevated virtual experiences.
A WORKING CONCEPT TOWARDS AN IMMERSIVE GETAWAY
The change driven accelerated shifts of a commercialised metaverse market has seen an increase in the amount and quality of new virtualised hospitality experiences. Such a unique domain is being reimagined in order to match user lifestyles by mixing virtual leisure concepts with digital nomad working patterns. As described Bayram et al., the concept of Metaverse-Leisure is defined as the process in which leisure time is spent in the metaverse whilst undergoing and/or participating in recreational activities.
This is primarily done through the use of avatars and spending time on three-dimensional virtual platforms. The interaction which occurs within this environment is further classified as either social networking, personal dialog and/or interpersonal collaboration. The ability for live events such as concerts, sports and film showings into three-dimensional environments represented elevated opportunities for online experiences. Thus, the purpose of this report is to define the framework behind the utilisation of metaverse concepts as platforms for social interaction and hospitality services, whilst also determining the key driving factors that can potentially enhance the growth of this niche and promote the disruption of its physical paradigm.
Key Market dynamics
Businesses who do not adapt to the blockchain and new streams of virtual income run the risk of being isolated by consumers and investors. As businesses slowly recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, the revenue generated from the live entertainment businesses that can become part of the Metaverse may exceed 800 billion USD by 2024. The key driving factor in the global metaverse entertainment and hospitality market is the increase in consumer spending across these virtual environments. As shown in Figure 1, the resultant growth in the retained number of individuals attending these virtual events will further propel the aforementioned industry forward. Lastly, North America accounts for a significant global share of the metaverse market in terms of developing this sector of technology and an increase expenditure of both companies and individuals. It is clear that the increase in the development of both AR and VR is a robust sentiment towards the elevation of this industry towards the next level. The adoption of higher quality technology will aid in driving the market revenue growth over the coming years.
EXPLAINING THE POTENTIAL OF IMMERSIVE HOSPITALITY
By definition, the metaverse in itself is characterised through immersive, interactive and engaging systems which allow for the capabilities of collaboration. it is three-dimensional network which utilises the capability of virtual environments to allow users in the form of avatars to manipulate digital objects and enhance the use of software agents without the limitations of their physical environment.
Thus, the creation of such an immersive experience and the adoption Meta-leisure and hospitality concepts can disable the current tourism ecosystem by providing the ability to take people away from their solitude and transport them to a more inclusive and readily accessible environment. Meta-leisure and tourism will take advantage of mixed reality systems, blending augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in order to enhance customer experiences. Moreover, the metaverse provides consumers the ability to blur the lines between the two worlds allowing for users to seamlessly interchange between environments.
In fact, Buhalis et.al, 2022 defined tourism in the metaverse as a “parallel, virtual universe that uses ambient intelligence to enhance physical spaces, products and services, emerges as a collective, virtual shared space of value co- creation”.
For example, business-leisure travelers and digital nomads will increasingly utilize the capabilities and services of virtual conference centres and virtual meeting rooms to creative online collaborative workspaces.
Metaverse applications are key driving factors in the industry transformation and redefinition of the concept of leisure and hospitality.
The choice of shifting digital interactions into virtual environments will create a complementary avatar travel experience to life. The emerging market depicted in Figure 2 has seen an increase in the amount and quality of operators to forgo metaverse applications to increase the industry’s adaptability as well as to address the new expectations and demand of their consumer.
The digitisation and industry engagement in virtual and blended approaches will further enhance an AI-enabled hospitality service whilst creating newer and more engaging streams of income2. Presently, a dual- demand pull and supply push accelerates the adoption of the metaverse in commercialised leisure events.
In fact, as shown by Sigala et al., 2021 the technological advances and socio-economic trends brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic showcased the elated necessity for survival, resilience, reset and transformation2. Where a ‘new normal’ requires a reformed business model in which an analysis occurs through a paralysis exercise in order to reimagine and reinforce every aspect of their economic platform through an alteration of value proposition, revenue stream and delivery model2.
The current global leisure, hospitality and tourism sectors and destination welcome the mass inclusion of visitors due to the economic benefits that they introduce to their ecosystem. The metaverse creates a potential to extend a physical space and create a specialised ‘smart’ ecosystem that is based on environmental, social and cultural resources. It brings together a socio-interactive demand for services which allow for the co-creation of experiences with a vast range of interdependent suppliers.
As stated in the 2020 scientometric review of smart tourism published by Verssimo et al., the five dimensions of the human ware approach to smart tourism is smart ecosystems, smart technology, value creation and a sharing economy5. The quality experience which is felt by tourists is vital because it shares a positive correlation with their increased retention to stay at the destination. In fact, as stated by Vada et al, 2019 and Bogivevic et al., 2019 the two key factors in a smart tourism environment are the direct interaction shared between visitors and the ability for co-creation6.
With regards to the metaverse and its environment, both factors are seen to be inherent components as when compared to traditional media, the virtual environment provides a higher engagement and interactivity for its users7,8.
In hindsight, the ideal smart tourism environment should provide a virtual destination which has been defined as a tourism experience mediated by technologies5. Thus, ensuring that such a development system is further ameliorated through real-time monitoring and personalised features. The implications of tourism in the metaverse range from enriching the hospitality experiences during the entirety of the customer journey to also enhancing business operations5. Whilst unconventional, the latter has shown the be a useful tool in areas such as digital marketing, new product development, and human resources.
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2. Sigala, M. Rethinking of Tourism and Hospitality Education When Nothing Is Normal: Restart, Recover, or Rebuild. J. Hosp. Tour. Res. 2021, 45 (5), 920–923. https://doi.org/10.1177/10963480211012058.
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5. Borges-Tiago, T.; Veríssimo, J. M. C.; Tiago, F. Smart Tourism: A Scientometric Review (2008-2020). Eur. J. Tour. Res. 2022, 30 (October 2021). https://doi.org/10.54055/ejtr.v30i.2593.
6. Junko, Y.; Meng-Jun, H.; Tsong-Zen, L. Video Games as a Media For Tourism Expirience. Inf. Commun. Technol. Tour. 2022 2022, No. January. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-94751-4.
7. Bibri, S. E.; Allam, Z. The Metaverse as a Virtual Form of Data – Driven Smart Cities : The Ethics of the Hyper – Connectivity , Datafication , Algorithmization , and Platformization of Urban Society. Comput. Urban Sci. 2022, 1, 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1007/s43762-022-00050-1.
8. Macedo, B. C. R.; Miro, D. A.; Hart, T. The Metaverse : From Science Fiction to Commercial Reality — Protecting Intellectual Property in the Virtual Landscape. 2022, 31 (1).