By ITB Asia News
Ben Taylor, CEO APAC, George P. Johnson, spoke to visitors at MICE Show Asia about how these technological advances can compliment a real meeting or event experience. During his hard-hitting speech, Mr Taylor explained why the time is right for real technological innovation. We asked him to tell us more about it.
Do you think the COVID crisis has worked as an accelerator for the experiential industry?
Technology adoption has accelerated at an incredible pace. It feels like we jumped five years in terms of people’s openness towards new technologies. Virtual events may play second fiddle as pandemic restrictions recede, but the lessons learned during the pandemic shape the way we now deliver event programmes. For example, we recently supported salesforce at the world’s largest corporate event, Dreamforce. Pre-pandemic, it attracted 170,000 registrations. This year, the live event had 45,000 attendees but over 100 million virtual views! Events turn truly hybrid, a unified experience executed through different channels.
What are your predictions about the full implementation of Metaverse/Web3 in the events industry?
Everyone is somewhat jumping on the bandwagon as technology companies fight for a first place in the Metaverse. We see right now rather basic executions in the MICE industry, but with the scope of investments made (US$2.8 billion by Meta alone in the last 3 months) it will quickly develop. If you ask me if Metaversal experiences will take precedence over live events, I would disagree. At least in the short term: feeling, touching, smelling and experiencing a physical event is hard to fake, it will take time before the level of experiences are equivalent, and then there’s the question of un-intuitive controls and limited participation. The gap will narrow, but we are many years off a digital full takeover of live events.
How can the travel & tourism sector use the Metaverse/Web3 to complement real travel experiences? Is it an opportunity or a threat to tourism as we know it?
It is a fantastic tourism opportunity. Imagine being able to pre-visit a destination, work out your itinerary, check accommodation, then potentially live it for real. Imagine selecting your airline seat in detail, taking a day trip to the North Pole, because you can’t afford the time for the real experience or wish to avoid the cost of buying antarctic clothing. Applications are endless.
Which sector of tourism could be at the forefront of the Metaverse/Web3 revolution?
I would suggest that every company in the travel industry should investigate the Metaverse, not just as a marketing gimmick, but as an add-on to their services and products. The costs are perhaps prohibitively high at the moment, but that will change. Commercially there are so many ways in which the travel industry can monetise this sort of virtual experiences. The sky is the limit.
I would suggest that every company in the travel industry should investigate the Metaverse.
Any other key take-aways from your presentation at MICE Show Asia?
For the events industry, right now we should perhaps be more focused on AR technology. It brings immersive and interactive elements to a live or physical event and complements rather than competes with the live experience. With the high technology adoption forged during the pandemic, this is a real opportunity for the industry.