Travel: the metaverse for dummies… according to Meta

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Travel: the metaverse for dummies... according to Meta

For those who have been living in a cave for a few months, the Facebook group is now called Meta. A group stamped “social media”, which includes the eponymous network, but also Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. Julien Lechat, in charge of Travel for France within Meta, after twenty years at Air France, explained, during the Future of business travel on April 21 in Paris, the concept of metavers Meta-style.

“Beyond the word a little trendy, the metaverse has several possible definitions. We define it as the set of virtual worlds in which we will be able to interact with virtual and real people. “We consider it with the virtual and augmented realities which will make it possible to create the new chapter of Internet”, he adds. Augmented reality is already present in the Meta ecosystem, in a playful and anecdotal way… “On Instagram, 82% of users have added an augmented reality filter this year. »

Julien Lechat (Meta) at the Future of conference, organized by TOM.travel and DéplacementsPros in Paris, in partnership with American Express GBT, HCorpo, TripActions. © Linda Laine

VR, AR and gamification

Virtual (VR) and augmented (AR) realities are nothing new, however. We’ve been talking about it in L’Echo for many years… Did Facebook simply sign a marketing stunt by changing its name in October 2021, and showering us with metaverse? Julien Lechat does not at all share this point of view. And it evokes an ever more immersive, social and interactive dimension.

“We will live on the Internet as we live in real life”, he assures, referring to a “more collaborative and decentralized” web 3.0. With technologies “like blockchain, cryptocurrencies and NFTs” being digital works of art being sold like real paintings… Marriott is one of the first hotel brands to create its own NFTs. Norwegian Cruise Line launches its first auction of NFT (Non-Fungible Token), signed by street artist Peeta. The hotelier Marriott has approached three “digital” artists in order to create its own NFTs… and some buzz.

Not one, but metaverses

Matthieu Deboeuf-Rouchon, Innovation Manager France at Capgemini Engineering, talks about “immobile mobility”: “We will be able to move without having to move”, he explained during the Future Of.

“There are still a lot of things to build in the next 5 to 10 years,” adds Julien Lechat. And not only by Meta. We have a vocation to be one of the players in this revolution. »

In The Sandbox, CitizenM builds a hotel. ©Jack Sirkett / CitizenM

The digital planet does not contain one metaverse but several. Horizon Worlds is that of Meta. There is also the video game Roblox (in which Paris Hilton organized a Christmas Eve!). And the other video game The Sandbox (created in 2012) where CitizenM is going to build a hotel… “These universes will have to be interoperable, which is not the case today. So that the avatars can wander from one universe to another, which is not won in such a competitive universe.

More concretely, how can the metaverse impact the world of travel? The former Air France employee identifies three fields of application: the world of work (meetings, training), the preparation of a trip, the “transformation” of the trip.

Revisited Zooms, and travel “trials”

With virtual reality headsets for example, the idea is to hold meetings through an avatar, and discuss with colleagues. “It’s the same use as a Zoom but with a much stronger sense of presence and interaction. In the same spirit, it is possible to imagine virtual training (tested by Hilton). Or even major digital events such as a digital Fashion Week. An example that created astonishment among some travel professionals present at the Future Of… “The concept of a virtual party may seem strange. But for the younger generations, it will become more and more natural,” assures Julien Lechat.

We will also be able through virtual and augmented reality to explore destinations, visit monuments, hotels, or try plane and train cabins, he continues. “This will allow you to better prepare for your trip, and avoid unpleasant surprises. For Meta, which is beginning to monetize its Horizon Worlds platform, it is also about enriching the very real experience of travel. An example ? An augmented tour of Berlin that brings the Berlin Wall back to life or a gladiator fight at the Coliseum in Rome. What innovative French companies like SkyBoy (augmented reality) and Emissive already offer, in their own way…

*As a reminder, augmented reality refers to “a virtual interface, in 2D or 3D, which enriches reality by superimposing additional information on it”, according to the definition of Futura Sciences. Virtual reality is “a technology that allows a person to be immersed in an artificial world created digitally”. Video games are a good illustration of this. Virtual reality requires an ad hoc headset.

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