Dame Irene Hays predicts metaverse travels will boost bookings
The chair of UK travel agency Hays Travel, Dame Irene Hays believes consumers will take holidays in the metaverse in the coming decade – and then be inspired to book a trip to that destination in real life.
Hays said: “People will be booking holidays as a result of having visited places in the metaverse. Cruise lines such as Celebrity and other operators are increasing their offering in the virtual sphere."
Dame Irene made her comments during the Hays Independence Group conference in the Algarve, which featured Jo Rzymowska, Celebrity Cruises’ EMEA vice-president and managing director, as a presenter and panel moderator earlier this month (March 2023).
Rzymowska told delegates how the cruise line created a virtual world called Wonderverse (pictured) with the launch of a digitally recreated Celebrity Beyond in December 2022. It enables agents and their customers to explore the Edge-series ship before they sail on it.
“We are seeing a younger audience engage with it; you feel that you are actually on the ship,” said Hays. “You can't get everybody on all the ship so the metaverse is a brilliant way to showcase it. There are lots of cynics but brands need to push the boundaries and empower people to help teams to innovate and think outside the box.”
Keynote speaker Ken Hughes, a consumer behaviouralist, told delegates about the “phygital” world, which is seeing a collision of physical and digital experiences. He said, the first thing teenagers of the ‘Generation Alpha’ era are most likely to buy is a ‘skin’ for their avatar to wear in a virtual game.
“There will be digital products, and you need to get your head around digital,” he told delegates, highlighting how US$100 billion has already been spent in virtual environments.
“The metaverse is like the internet was in 1995 – a massive opportunity... and more money will be spent on holidays.”
For Celebrity Cruises bookings, visit www.royalcaribbean.ae
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