Within the travel industry aviation has been very quick to embrace metaverse technology. Not just through the exploration of new transformational tech such as electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) and next generation air mobility vehicles, but also through current commercial opportunities.
Airlines and airports are exploring the metaverse to augment their offering, fuelled by rising interest rates, staff shortages, the decline in business travel and other macro factors. Heathrow, for example, has partnered with luxury brands for an immersive shopping experience and LAX has trialled virtual queuing. Qatar Airways has also been quick to embrace this new technology, with a virtual reality programme allowing passengers to look inside their aircraft. Emirates announced recently that it will launch NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and experiences in the metaverse and many airlines are looking to sell flights in the metaverse that can be used in the real world.
With this new world moving at such a pace it’s not difficult to see the potential and what it could bring to the airline industry. However, as the industry gears up to be metaverse-ready we must consider what lies at the heart of this tech and ultimately what will drive it – data.
Let’s just remind ourselves that the metaverse is a connected 3D virtual world that allows us as users to own digital assets and experience these environments. But remember, beneath all of this are layer upon layer of data. Data gets exchanged based on a user’s activity, enabling airlines to understand how people are engaging in this virtual world and then act by targeting them with specific offers.
According to a report by Accenture 53% of travel executives state that the metaverse will have a positive impact on their organisations, with 25% expecting a breakthrough or transformational impact. Even in the early days of the metaverse, I think this percentage will grow fast. The key to this, however, is that in order to do this the data needs to be understood and used effectively. With the metaverse, there is another level to data, what it can do and its potential to enable airlines to connect with their audiences.
Put another way, data will ultimately shape the metaverse and data-driven businesses will unlock the true potential of this world. Insights need to be analysed and information arranged to gain knowledge. So before entering the metaverse, airlines need to think about the kind of data they will be capturing and how it will add value to the business, the brand and the information they already have.
From users’ activities the metaverse generates vast amounts of data, high-quality and reusable, with rich content. ML, or machine learning, in the metaverse is everywhere, and it will prove important in this world. ML algorithms will play a key role, which is exciting for data scientists and analytics companies like ours. For example, with huge volumes of data collected at every stage we can use this to help airlines provide better offers, experiences and ancillaries in the meta world.
The metaverse in travel isn’t simply about cool games, fun avatars, and branded exploration. It can generate breakthrough value for stakeholders and the business—including new revenue streams.
As the metaverse expands and new innovations are introduced, there will be a need for new, additional data solutions and tools. Airlines will need to consider how to process and utilise the data generated. By putting data at the centre of it all, airlines will be able to offer a more enhanced environment while unlocking the true potential of this brave new world.
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