Gao Shunli: How can the Metaverse transform tourism

Metaverse is a very hot word nowadays. There are more than 100 million related pages on Baidu, which shows that it is very popular. According to a Bloomberg industry research report, the Metaverse is expected to reach a market size of US$800 billion in 2024; PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that the Metaverse will reach a market size of US$1.5 trillion in 2030. This shows that this is a massive market space full of imagination and expectations.

Judging from the Metaverse preached by people from relevant sectors, tourism is one of the industries with more applications in the future; some local governments have written the Metaverse into documents and reports, and many places involve the tourism industry. Despite the hustle and bustle, there is no authoritative definition of the Metaverse, which just shows that it is still accelerating its gestation and formation as a new thing. A basic consensus at present is that the Metaverse is essentially a process of virtualizing and digitizing the real world. From this, it can also be judged that there is still great uncertainty and ambiguity in the future impact and degree of impact on the tourism industry.

1. Positive influence is the basic judgment

Tourism is a comprehensive and highly correlated industry with more than 100 related industries and formats. Any technological progress and environmental changes outside will have a direct impact on the elements of the tourism industry.

In 1841, the British Thomas Cook organized the first tour group, marking the beginning of modern tourism. Since then, technological progress and social development have continuously had a positive impact on tourism. Taking the development of the past 10 years as an example, with fast traffic conditions, fast travel and slow travel are possible, and travel comfort has been greatly improved; the accelerated development of the express delivery industry has made the transportation of travel shopping no problem, and the proportion of online purchases has also been greatly increased. ; The popularization of electronic payment means, tourists do not need to carry a lot of cash when they go out; the excellent quality of construction projects makes the glass plank road bring more realistic thrills to tourists; the continuous optimization of lighting makes the night scene of the scenic spot and the cave landscape more splendid The improvement of artificial intelligence and technological progress has made amusement parks and amusement projects full of shock, fantasy and wonder.

Therefore, as a means of virtualizing and digitizing the real world, the Metaverse will definitely have a positive impact on the tourism industry, driving the significant improvement of certain industrial elements and formats, making tourists feel exciting, passionate, comfortable, comfortable and enjoyable, and making the Travel itineraries have become more romantic and poetic and value for money.

2. The impact of the tourism industry is predictable

As an emerging thing that is being developed and longed for, the Metaverse makes people from all walks of life full of curiosity, and also has their own imagination and understanding. Among the interpretations or understandings known to the tourism industry, some think it is an upgraded version of smart tourism, some think it is artificial intelligence + Internet + tourism, and some think it is the empowerment of digital technology to the tourism industry (Zhangjiajie) , and some believe that it mainly affects the fields of entertainment, games, and amusement.

10 years ago, there was a popular saying in the industry for a while, which means that the rapid take-off of my country’s tourism industry or the establishment of a world tourism power requires the tourism industry to have two wings, one is called culture and the other is called technology. Whether the metaphor for this understanding is accurate enough or not can be left aside, but if the influence of the Metaverse is classified as a technology category, it may be relatively appropriate to regard it as a wing that tourism needs to help. In my opinion, the main impact is reflected in six aspects:

One is the exhibition. Such as many amusement parks, tourism performances, cultural exhibitions. Like Disney, Fantawild, Happy Valley, etc., like cultural art exhibitions, immersive exhibitions, there should be a lot of room for improvement and display. Through the Metaverse, we can speed up the renewal and new experience.

The second is activation reproduction. Such as the “activation” of cultural relics and cultural resources projects, the reconstruction of some legends and historical scenes, such as the scenes of ancient emperors discussing politics, the life scenes of Sanxingdui and Beijing ape-men, the restoration of dinosaur fossil groups in museums, and the savage people of Shennongjia The simulation and reveal of the Metaverse can be applied to the technical means of the Metaverse.

The third is to participate in the experience. Such as script killing, escape room, combat drama, forest field battle, etc., natural caves, scenic spots of historical sites, can increase the story and experience through the Metaverse.

The fourth is the tour guide. Limited to technical conditions, the tour guide servers rented out in scenic spots are relatively backward and cannot replace the on-site service of individual tour guides. If it is improved through the Metaverse, it will be a win-win for both tourists and scenic spots.

The fifth is publicity and marketing. The means and methods in various places are relatively solid, one is media advertising, the other is Douyin video, and the third is event marketing. With the introduction of the original universe, this field is bound to undergo revolutionary changes, with a splendid all-round on-site presentation, allowing customers to obtain a realistic preview and even experience, which greatly stimulates the inspiration and desire to travel.

Six is ​​travel booking. Whether it is to participate in a tour group or a self-service tour with an order-style reservation, it is inseparable from the contract with the travel seller. If Metaverse can allow tourists to browse all the agreed elements of tourism services and save them in the contract, it will be of great practical significance to ensure the quality of tourism, reduce service disputes, and establish a competition mechanism for the survival of the fittest.

3. Shaking tourism behavior is just an illusion

Some preachers say that the Metaverse has a huge impact on the real world, including disruptive changes in travel behavior and patterns. Even if you are sitting at home, you can travel around the world with the help of the Metaverse, and you can completely achieve the immersive effect of travel. According to this way of thinking, there will be fewer and fewer actual tourists in the future, and tourism consumption will also be greatly affected, but from the professional perspective of the tourism industry, the possibility of such a situation is very small.

First of all, the basic concept of tourism is to leave home. The general concept of tourism given by the World Tourism Organization refers to the activities that people leave their usual environment for leisure, business or other purposes and go to certain places for a continuous period of not more than one year. The official statistical caliber of my country’s tourism is also formulated based on this. The so-called 6 billion people traveled annually in my country before the epidemic came from this. People can have their own understanding of tourism, but the basic concepts will not be changed by the emergence of the Metaverse.

Secondly, the flow of tourists is the basic feature of the tourism industry. Only when the source of tourists flows, the tourism industry can produce and the elements of tourism-related industries can operate. Under the new crown epidemic, tourism has been affected the most, because the flow of people is not smooth. If you call the act of squatting at home watching the Metaverse and not shaking your body as “tourism”, it’s just a “pseudo-tourism” at best, and its effect should be the same as looking for plums to quench thirst and painting cakes to satisfy hunger.

Again, being there is the biggest feature of the travel experience. This “environment” is immovable, and tourists can only appreciate and experience it by moving their bodies into this “environment”; Color, smell, taste, sound, and touch can be provided, and local details can be seen more carefully than the scene, but that is only a part of the actual realm, which can only satisfy part of the perception, not the whole of the scene. Liang Jianzhang, founder of Ctrip, wrote an article on “Metaverse and Tourism” at the end of last year, talking about his understanding of whether it is possible to replace on-site travel through remote video from the Metaverse in the future. Knowing that remote video technology may never be able to replace live tours. Not to mention how to simulate touch, taste, etc., just the problem of interaction speed is an insurmountable bottleneck.” Due to the shortcomings of interactivity, long-distance communication cannot replace some in-depth interactive communication, such as heart-to-heart, emotional communication, and creative cooperation. Anyone who has travel experience knows that every tourist will inevitably have some active random behaviors at the tourist site, such as visiting, asking, chatting, eating, pulling, and many small emergencies, small Accidental encounters, small accidents, and small impulses cannot be provided by any scene outside the real world.

In addition, whole-hearted feeling is the characteristic of tourism. What does it feel like to travel? Not just walking, watching, eating, and experiencing, but also a lot of psychological insights, unexpected gains, meeting ALICE friends, or surprises or wasted, or intoxicated or tired, it is a kind of whole-hearted, The immersive feeling in the all-round, all-weather real scene is not the same as watching dramas, watching movies, and playing games, and it is also different from the realistic simulation scene. Just like if you are invited to eat a table full of Man and Han, I would like to invite you to experience the Man and Han full feast in the Metaverse. Even if you get the same color, aroma, and taste, there is still an insurmountable gap between the two, that is, the fullness of the stomach and the hunger, the drum and the drum. deflated.

Some people may cite the example of watching a performance. Going to a theater to watch a performance may not be as clear and comprehensive as watching live TV at home, but the effect of enjoying it is similar. If the effect is really similar, then why would anyone still have to pay a lot of money to listen to operas, dramas, and ballets? This just shows that on-the-spot tourism is irreplaceable by anything.

Of course, it is not ruled out that some people like to stay at home. Now they live in the online world all day long, and in the future they will indulge in the world created by the Metaverse all day long. They may have a travel-like experience, but that is only in the existing online dating and online dating. On the basis of addiction, there is a new attraction, and what you enjoy is not a genuine tourist activity. For the vast majority of people, travel needs will not be met in this way.

Therefore, after understanding the connotation and characteristics of tourism, you will be confident that the so-called revolutionary, impactful and subversive influence of the Metaverse on tourism behavior cannot happen to the mass of tourists.

4. The final degree of influence depends on the market acceptance

As an industry with strong correlation, support and integration, tourism is affected by many factors, but the size of the impact depends on the recognition of the tourism market. Discussion and demonstration are one aspect, and the most important thing is to accept the tourism market. test.

Loving the new and disliking the old, seeking new and different is the mentality of tourists, and it is also the characteristics of tourism market demand. I remember that during the Shanghai World Expo in 2010, the characters in the “Across the River During Qingming Festival” on display became active, which attracted the audience and called it strange. The same is true of immersive performances. It was popular at first, but it is difficult to make a splash in the market today; the emergence and development of the Metaverse will also be the same as the law, there will also be competition with each other, and there will be “involution” fatigue. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to have a positive impact on the tourism industry:

One is to grasp the characteristics of tourism consumption. The Metaverse introduced in various aspects seems to be omnipotent, but it is more about establishing theories and inferences, and it may not be easy to implement in reality. For example, in the context of the Metaverse, when visiting the Golden Palace in the Forbidden City, it is said that tourists can see the emperor, and whoever they want to see is who. This is indeed more pleasant, but the premise must be that tourists have sufficient time and are willing to pay. If you are interested, you can call it out and enjoy it. For tourists, visiting the entire Forbidden City may not be enough for a whole day. If you participate in a tour group, it will definitely affect the established itinerary.

Second, we must grasp the size of the source market. How big is the market for this demand? If you are not sure, blindly engage in and invest money, it is bound to be a failed project. In the real tourism scene, there are not many so-called “free people” who are not limited by time and money and have the desire to travel. It is difficult for even retired cadres to spend a day or two to visit a scenic spot thoroughly. That is to say, no matter how well your Metaverse is doing, you still need a considerable proportion of tourists to consume, otherwise it is equivalent to jumping into a pit.

The third is to assess the preferences of tourists. Be sure to do a good job of market research, how many people like Metaverse methods, and how many are willing to spend more money, especially not blindly speculate on the percentage of the total number of tourists. AR, VR and other projects that have always been optimistic about the Internet industry, there are also many cases in the tourism industry. For example, a famous 5A-level scenic spot in a northwestern province has a VR project experience hall not far away. There is also a “360 Extreme Flying Ball”, which failed miserably due to few viewers; a well-known film company hopes to expand its own film and television IP cultural tourism live entertainment project, but it is far from landing in 20 cities in the short term as planned. These items, while not comparable to the Metaverse, seem to fall into a lower-level version of a similar type.

Fourth, try to control development investment. Although my country’s tourism consumption is on the rise, the per capita expenditure level is not high. In 2019 before the epidemic, the per capita expenditure of urban residents in my country was 1,062.64 yuan, and the per capita expenditure of rural residents was 634.66 yuan. Now that it has been hit by the new crown epidemic, it is difficult to improve in the short term, or the group that can pay for the Metaverse may not necessarily be large. This is something that must be considered when introducing the Metaverse to enhance tourism projects. If the cost cannot be suppressed and tourists cannot afford it, such development will be a failure.

Metaverse is currently a widely spread “new theory” or prophetic thing, due to the gap between various publicity and future reality, the gap between the universality of the Metaverse’s influence and the particularity of the industry, the gap between specific research and development and implementation. The gap between the tourism industry and the internal understanding of the tourism industry has determined that at this stage, only a little attention and discussion can be made about it. It is not allowed to follow others’ opinions, follow the trend, let alone gullibility and blind optimism, which is conducive to the formation of positive in the tourism industry. sexual influence.

Author: Gao Shunli, a special researcher at the Tourism Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, former president/editor-in-chief of China Tourism News

Source: China Net

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