Business Trips Vs. Meetings in the Metaverse

analysts and advisors the morning star may soon be wearing VR headsets instead of going to meetings in the future as more financial services companies enter the metaverse.

Another company, Accenture, ordered 60,000 Oculus Quest 2 headsets in October last year for its interns who were unable to meet in person. He also created a virtual office environment called the Nth Floor. Fidelity Investments, meanwhile, looked at the effectiveness of virtual reality training, after a pilot program involving 140 employees.

After two years of digital experimentation, a clear pandemic legacy is emerging.

And banking as a whole continues to be the most public sector when reopening. American Express Global Business Travel pointed out that two customers in the sector, which it did not name, had not yet fully reopened their buildings – their trips had resumed at only 24% and 33% of total transaction volume for the second quarter, compared to the same period in 2019, it revealed during its investor day on Tuesday. Another bank customer who had reopened their offices accounted for 66% of travel spending before the pandemic.

A generation without travel needs?

Corporate travel agencies, as well as hotels and airlines, should pay attention to Chicago-headquartered Morningstar’s next moves. He has encouraged his own interns to use virtual reality, allowing them to spend the technology if they sign up to test it and provide feedback, and factors VIP metaverse experiences into his hybrid. investor conference 2022 at Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center May 16-18.

The acceleration of new technologies won’t stop with the end of mask mandates, and Morningstar, which has 8,500 employees, is working closely with the virtual reality specialist hypnotize on developing virtual and augmented reality experiences at its conferences since 2017. The company, founded by veteran journalist Andrew Hawken, has also hosted virtual conferences for companies like Allianz and Wells Fargo.

“We were knee deep in planning things for 2020, we had a (virtual reality) game called Sustainable City, which is about environmental, social and governance investing. We also had a ‘bee game “fun where you had to save as many bees as possible, which ties into sustainability,” experiential marketing manager Leslie Marshall said. “Then it all came to a screeching halt and it turned into an experience fully digital.”

In 2021, Mesmerise asked Morningstar if they wanted to hold their investing conference entirely in the metaverse. If Accenture was able to buy 60,000 headsets, it didn’t look like price was going to be a barrier. Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 headset is now priced around $400 and Morningstar sold 250 tickets to the investor conference, including one for $649. For the desktop-only version of the conference, tickets were $399.

In contrast, Morningstar’s VR efforts in 2019 involved high-end laptops, censors and gaming headsets that cost between $3,000 and $4,000 in total.

“We completed this project with Mesmerise in six weeks, they were very quick on this pivot,” added Marshall, who also served as Morningstar’s director of events, magazine and social media from 2013 to 2017.

Morningstar is also testing virtual reality for one-on-one meetings that could hurt future business travel bookings. “People didn’t realize it was an opportunity. But working with Mesmerise, we’re working to show them the possibilities of where they would meet, how they would use that meeting space,” she said. While more event-focused than meeting-focused, Morningstar is running experiments in Australia and Chicago.

Filtering to customers

A growing trend is that early adopters of VR seem eager to use the method to interact with their own customers.

“By bringing in new technologies and new ways of working, it’s really beneficial for us,” Brian Smyth, Accenture’s chief innovation officer for the communications and media industry, told Silicon Republic last month. “And more importantly, how we bring that to our customers in new ways.”

Morningstar is no different, with its Australian team, which recently hosted an invite-only event for VR Advisor clients that included presentations, product demos and a Q&A. “They really liked being on the cutting edge of being able to see and experience this, they had never done that before,” Marshall noted. “One of my mandates to think about is what can we do for our clients here in Chicago, but also how can we take those experiences and adapt them to our other offices…everyone on my team has a headset , we made meetings in virtual reality.

Its partner Mesmerise is also seeing a demand for executive training, to help sometimes ego-sensitive CEOs feel comfortable wearing a headset.

“They wanted to know how to say hello to people in the metaverse, what the etiquette is. Like everyone else, we’re exploring what this medium means,” Marshall continued. “The thing to think about isn’t the current market situation, but where are we going and how do we continue to experiment and innovate with this technology.”

With headsets becoming more and more affordable, and Apple expects launch own virtual reality hardware Later this year, it’s a market that could go mainstream sooner than expected.

Notes

We’ll be hearing a lot more about Meta, formerly known as Facebook, over the next few months as business travel conferences rebound. There’s a certain irony to face-to-face events putting such an emphasis on virtual reality, but there’s a lot to discuss.

Meta, of course, owns headset maker Oculus, and there will be probing questions from an industry trying to make sense of the Metaverse. The main question will be: is he a friend or an enemy?

Later this month, the UK Institute of Travel Management will host a dedicated session at its annual conference on how “developments around artificial intelligence and the metaverse are rushing our way”.

In France, The future of business travel appointed Julien Lechat, Meta’s “travel client partner”, as a speaker. Next month, Flight Center’s corporate travel division is also recruiting a Meta representative for its “Metaverse 101: What This New Online Phenomenon Means for Corporate Travel” session. He wants to explore whether this new online community will replace travel. The FCM event hybrid forum called Th!nk is run in association with the Global Business Travel Association.

Hosting companies are also tackling the metaverse head-on. The topic will likely be discussed at Skift’s Future of Lodging Forum on May 11-12, with Jennifer Hsieh of Marriott International speaking – Marriott’s loyalty brand Bonvoy is build a presence in the metaverse to interact with consumers.

CitizenM is currently testing its marketing potential, while Ascott, part of CapitaLand Investment Limited, launched the lyf Innovation Lab this week to coincide with the opening of a new co-housing property in Singapore. Created with the School of Computing and Computing at Temasek Polytechnic, the lab could eventually provide a new way for guests of lyf properties to connect to the metaverse.

Other thoughts come from Accor, whose coworking brand Wojo dove into the collaboration potential of the metaversewhile Travelport, as part of its Modern Retail Video Seriesexplains why now is the time to travel to explore the opportunities of virtual reality.

Every year has its buzzword, and 2022 will be the metaverse. You were warned.

10 second catch up on business trips

Who and what Skift covered last week: Air France-KLM, American Express Global Business Travel, Certares, Delta Air Lines, easyJetFrontier Airlines, IHG, Marriott, Selina, SNCF, Travalyst, Uber.

In short

Selina launches an accelerator for digital nomad customers

Selina has formed a strategic partnership with TechnoArt, a platform for tech startups, to launch [email protected] The company claims to have created one of the first global innovation programs developed to support the digital nomad community. More than 100 Selina locations around the world will provide access to its coworking entrepreneurs and a global network for the opportunity to grow and scale their business. TechnoArt also announced the launch of a dedicated innovation fund through which it will syndicate investments in up to 12 graduate companies per year. “Selina is home to millions of travelers and digital nomads, and this program is designed to provide the infrastructure and supportive atmosphere to help our members establish and grow their businesses from anywhere in the world,” said the CEO and co-founder of Selina. Raphael Museri.

BCD identifies the causes of business traveler stress

Flight delays and cancellations are giving business travelers headaches, according to a new survey. Some 64% said it caused stress, based on a survey done by BCD trip, while close connections (53%) and having to travel economy class for long-haul flights (40%) were the second leading causes of anxiety. Meanwhile, post-travel stressors included catching up on office work (51%), preparing expense reports (45%) and dealing with missed household or family chores (39%). The survey also found that while 89% of business travelers said wellness was a priority at their company, just over half (51%) felt their company provided wellness support. travellers. The survey was conducted among 875 business travelers worldwide between February 1. March 18 and 4, 2022.