Scouting properties to hold events takes time and money.
RendezVerse Limited is getting ready to introduce a platform that will help save both by doing such site visits in virtual reality.
RendezVerse is the metaverse tech spinoff from WorldWide Events, established in 2004 to bring together hotel business development teams and event planners in a forum format.
“Prepandemic in 2019, we estimate there were over 10 million site inspections globally, and probably at least 50 percent of them were a total waste of time,” says Mark Brown, chief operating officer of the U.K.-based company that bills itself as “the hotel and events metaverse.” “You know what it’s like if you’re looking to buy a house or rent an apartment, something looks really good on the website, you arrange to do an inspection of that property and as soon as you arrive you know immediately that this is not right for me.
“If you could have been transported to that property in virtual reality and had that show around, in 15 minutes you could have done that inspection and decided nah, it’s not right.”
It’s the same with hotels, he says, who for their part also devote substantial time and effort, which translates to expense, in preparing for a site visit.
“It requires a lot of work of running around to try to get a space available, clean, refreshments, etc. for someone to come and do an inspection, and you know that they’re also that day looking at another five hotels nearby,” Brown says, recalling one hotel representative who estimated that multiple departments and some nine staff hours were involved in planning for a single 30-minute site visit.
RendezVerse is building a community for the hotel and events industry that brings together buyers, venues, service providers, and event specialists in virtual reality. Besides enabling meetings and site visits to happen in the metaverse, it hopes that eventually events could also be held virtually using virtual reality and Web3 technology. (According to Forbes, Web3 is the blockchain-based future of the web, which will operate in a decentralized manner versus the current model with tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon running the show.)
The technology RendezVerse is developing would cut back on wasted time and expense for all parties, Brown says.
How does it work? RendezVerse’s platform enables people to upload photos that translate to digital form to become their own avatar — not cartoonish like those found in video games, but businesslike.
Meanwhile, the company builds digital spaces using photos supplied by venues like hotels that the avatars are then able to tour using a virtual reality headset that enables participants to interact as they would in a real setting.
“We’re able to put the avatars inside those 360-degree photographs,” Brown says. “They can walk around together or as a group inside that experience.
“We basically build a fully digital replica of the real space and then we’re going to give the hotels the tools so they can have different kinds of furniture — different types of tablecloths, for example, with cutlery, glasses, whatever — so they can create layouts that they think their prospects want to see for their particular event.”
Wearing the headset, participants can see the avatar of the person they’re meeting with.
“You see expressions, lips are synched with speech, they blink, they move,” Brown says. “When you turn around and someone’s speaking behind you, it actually sounds as if someone is speaking behind you. It’s the feeling of being in the room.”
At the same time, venues can upload a PowerPoint presentation or video, or conduct a live-time presentation for the potential client as part of the experience.
“Doing it in VR, a buyer, instead of visiting six hotels in person — if they all had digital twins, they (buyers) could be in their office halfway around the world,” Brown says. “They could visit these six virtual site inspections and narrow it down to one or two and go and visit those (in person) and not do the other four.
“So it cuts down the number of onsite physical inspections that have to be completed to select a venue for an event.”
RendezVerse is working with a few major hotel chains to fine-tune and test the technology. Plans are to roll out the production platform in October.
“That’s when any hotel can connect and upload their 360-degree content,” Brown says, “or if they haven’t gotten any, we’ll get it done for them.”