Whether or not you are following news in the technology space, you have likely heard the term “metaverse” somewhere. Virtual worlds seem to be making their way into our regular lives in ways becoming increasingly hard to avoid. Work productivity can be amplified by using virtual reality to remove distractions. Roblox allows children under 18 to participate in immersive 3D experiences. When Facebook changed the parent company's name to Meta, the metaverse’s significance was sealed; the company that changed the way people communicate boldly stated that they will now change how we live. In the attractions industry, we need to recognize this.
For hundreds of years, the attractions industry relied on people leaving their homes, traveling to a destination, and partaking in experiences that enrich their lives in ways that cannot be replicated at home. With the continued rise of the metaverse, what does this mean for businesses that rely on in-person visitors? This will, without a doubt, be a top-of-mind conversation for the next several years.
There are two ways to look at how the metaverse will impact attractions venues. One is through fear and skepticism, and the other is through an acknowledgment of changing guest behavior.
The value of real-life experiences will potentially decline due to the ease of virtual
If visiting a venue becomes a friction point in the guest experience, why not choose an experience that doesn’t require you to leave your home? For example, you can now attend an NBA game, which previously was reserved for requiring attendance IRL… in the metaverse. By sitting on your couch and putting on an Oculus headset, you reduce your time in traffic, standing in long lines at concessions and restrooms, or even figuring out what to wear. You can toggle back and forth between immersing yourself in a courtside experience and putting your kids to bed without missing either moment.
When something like this becomes so easy, why would you attend the game in real life? Well, for starters, it’s simply not the same. Skeptics of the metaverse claim that the digital world cannot replace the feeling of being and doing somewhere in real life. This may be true, but technology continues to evolve to \make it feel more and more realistic and remove the barriers that allow people to experience the digital world much more seamlessly than the real world.
It would be easy to brush this off as a fad brought on by the pandemic, but instead, let’s now look at why the metaverse can be a fantastic thing for the attractions industry.
You can expand your reach beyond those who can visit you in person
If fear and skepticism are our knee-jerk reaction, then once we’ve cooled down, we can now actually look at how we can leverage the rise of the metaverse and gain from it.
From a marketing standpoint alone, accessing the metaverse can amplify how your audience finds you and how they experience your product. This may be the new frontier of advertising. If traditional marketing includes television, radio, and billboard, and digital marketing includes social media and email, then virtual marketing will be how you reach your audience in the metaverse.
You can drive revenue growth in new ways
Further, if any form of your venue can be experienced in the metaverse, you can create a stronger connection that builds demand for your real-life experience. How? Demonstrate what can be done in the metaverse and what can only be experienced in person. Open up massive revenue and fundraising opportunities through NFT technology.
For example, Iconic Moments has billed itself as the first NFT marketplace for cultural institutions. Their business model involves partnering with museums to alleviate their dependency on in-person visitors and fundraising galas. Iconic Moments releases artifacts available for purchase via NFT, allowing the buyer to own the digital version of the museum piece.
Consider the application throughout the attractions industry. In many ways, this is the digital version of brick pavers that are seen throughout cultural and for-profit attractions alike. While it carries no utility at the surface, Iconic customers are occasionally rewarded with museum admission, an invitation to an exclusive event, or some form of VIP experience thanks to their purchase, which can be seen as a donation.
This is not exclusively reserved for the not-for-profit sector of the industry. In 2021, Disney unveiled a line of NFTs based on several of its well-known IP brands, including Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars.
Ultimately, the attractions industry will need to craft the ideal blend between the physical and digital world. The metaverse will impact the attractions industry in ways we have never seen before and has the potential to expand our efforts in creating meaningful experiences that lead to lifelong memories for our guests.