Dubai: Try a first-class airline seat in the metaverse before you buy tickets

From passport-free travel to smart guides that turn tourists into explorers, travel technology is continuously evolving


Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Wed 11 May 2022, 12:59 PM

Last updated: Fri 17 Jun 2022, 5:51 PM

Now, travellers can experience the luxury of travelling on a first-class airline seat in the metaverse before physically buying the air tickets.

Tourists could also enjoy augmented reality (AR) navigation on their smartphones while exploring a new city.

According to heads of several travel technology companies participating at the Arabian Travel Market on Tuesday, technology has accelerated the changes in international travel and tourism post-pandemic.

From passport-free seamless travel to smart guides that turn tourists into explorers in a new city, the industry has radically adopted virtual and augmented reality to increase customer engagement.

Managing director of Amadeus, Ernesto Sanchez, said: “We can link artificial intelligence (AI) to the metaverse. Leading travel and tourism industry players are now using AI and virtual reality (VR) to attract customers. Furthermore, being a technology provider, we see a clear trend of consumers showing interest in buying virtual products and services.” Amadeus is a Spanish IT provider for the global travel and tourism industry.

Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), Sanchez said, according to the Accenture Technology Vision 2022, ‘Meet Me in the Metaverse: The Continuum of Technology and Experience Reshaping Business,’ study, at least 50 per cent of the surveyed 11,000 consumers said that they are buying, or would be interested in buying, a travel experience such as a sightseeing tour or hotel stay in the metaverse.

He said: “At least 70 per cent of the surveyed executives said the Metaverse would have a positive impact on the travel industry.”

Here are the top-five travel technology trends that were on display at the Arabian Travel Market 2022:

Try in the metaverse before you buy:

With the VR boom, tourists can try and experience a product or service in the metaverse before buying the product or service, suggested Sanchez. “For example, top airlines could offer their customers the option to try a first-class cabin or business class cabin within the metaverse. Providers can offer the services for free, and the chances of conversion into business are much higher in this case as customers get first-hand knowledge on what to expect,” explained Sanchez.

The hotel industry is another sector that could adopt the ‘try before you buy approach in the metaverse. “Again, hotels could offer customers the option to try premium rooms in the metaverse,” he added.

Passport-free seamless travel

In 2021, Amadeus signed a global strategic partnership with tech giant Microsoft to harness cloud technology to innovate and explore new products and solutions and create smoother travel experiences in the future.

Teams from both Microsoft and Amadeus will collaborate to enable faster delivery of new cloud-based solutions, leading to more seamless travel experiences, in the airlines and hospitality businesses, for example.

Sanchez said both companies would leverage the total value of Azure and Microsoft’s solutions to deliver sophisticated end-user experiences and create custom solutions tailored to the precise needs of the traveller.

He said that the initial efforts are expected to establish more integrated business travel journeys and enable closer collaboration between travel and health authorities post-pandemic. “In this case, we are trying to implement a completely touchless and seamless travel end-to-end travel experience. This would mean the customer would not have any unnecessary touch-based interaction from when they leave home until they reach their final destination, including check-in, immigration, and pre-boarding protocols,” Sanchez explained.


He said, “The Dubai International Airport has already established several advanced technologies to ensure document-free travel using biometrics. We’re noticing more airports worldwide enhancing their touchless travel capabilities so that the customer’s seamless journey does not end at Dubai International,” he said.

Smart chatbots for hotels

According to Peter Ferris, chief sales officer at RMS Cloud, artificial intelligence and human interaction will save a traveller’s time while booking hotel rooms. RMS Cloud is a software company with its headquarters in Australia which produces and supports online booking, channel management and front office systems for the hospitality industry.

He provided the example of a premium digital assistant trained by hoteliers for hoteliers – Bookmebob, a digital assistant that covers customers into direct bookings. “In most cases, when a user is speaking with Bookmebob, he or she does not realise that they are in conversation with AI,” said Ferris.

He said the benefits of such a chatbot include – understanding website visitors’ queries and instantly delivering the correct answer, helping check availability, rates and book a room, answering questions instantaneously, and helping plan trips better.

Smart guides which turn tourists into explorers

Václav Jurčíček, the chief business development officer at SmartGuide, said the Czech Republic-based product offers tourists a story-telling approach to digital travel guides. “It does not take away from the exploring and emotional aspect of travelling,” said Jurčíček.

The application collaborates and creates customised digital tour guides with national and municipal tourism boards, Unesco heritage sites, university campuses, tour operators, major attractions, and hotels. “Tourists become explorers with just one click of a button,” he added.

With applications such as SmartGuide, travellers can explore at their own pace and safely with hands-free and immersive personal guides on their phones. “There is no need for crowded tour groups, and with the application, users can have access to locally sourced content that is as good as a friend’s recommendation for taking off beaten paths,” he said.

“The content works both ways. We source the content from the various partners we work with or provide the option to create the content ourselves,” Jurčíček said. The application offers countless experiences – from city crawling to adventure treks – depending on the traveller’s personal choice.

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