The Madrid Marriott Auditorium Hotel and Conference Center
is the largest self-contained hotel and meeting facility in Europe, with nearly
900 rooms and an auditorium that seats 2,000 people.
Sales and marketing director David Ghossein knows that the
physical layout of the property – the fact that the hotel and event facilities
are in one building and that it has a large auditorium plus a ballroom and
private check-in area – is its biggest selling point. About 75% of the hotel’s
business comes from the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and
exhibitions) events that it hosts.
But Ghossein also knows that in-person site visits can be time-consuming
and costly – from the perspectives of both budget and sustainability.
So Ghossein is partnering with RendezVerse, a new brand from
London-based Worldwide Events, to develop “digital twins” – virtual, three-dimensional
replicas - of his hotel and conference center that will eventually live in the metaverse.
The Madrid Marriott’s virtual spaces debuted at the M&I
Spring Forum in Seville, Spain, earlier this month, where attendees donned Oculus headsets to “walk through” the rooms built on RendezVerse’s RV360
“It’s offering a new tool that can [help people] avoid
taking flights. ... It’s money, it’s sustainability, time. ... I can also prepare
everything as how the client would like to have it – special themes, the setup,
the colors, the lighting. ... This is a first step and after that if they say it
looks nice, now I’ll take a flight and come to see you,” Ghossein says.
“It’s super immersive. What you can do already is see it in
3D, but the main difference here is that you ... go inside the room. It’s not
the same as watching it on your screen.”
Worldwide Events founder and CEO Peter Gould launched
RendezVerse in January – starting with the RV360 solution for hotels to offer
virtual site inspections. Along with the Madrid Marriott Auditorium & Conference
Center, RendezVerse is working with the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, Atlantis The
Palm Dubai, Four Seasons Resort Bali, InterContinental Paris Le Grand and
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“Hotel spaces of any size, either in the meeting industry or
the luxury industry, will eventually digitize totally and offer virtual
environments, and we are at the start of that mountain of building those
virtual environments,” Gould says.
The next evolution for RendezVerse, building on Web3
technologies, will be to connect these virtual environments into the metaverse so
people can move, digitally, between them.
“For example, I could be in Bali, you could be in New
York, we could be talking about a hotel in Madrid and then we could both be in the
hotel in Madrid ... that ability to challenge time and space using technology
and actually being an immersive environment with shared experiences is what the
metaverse is about,” Gould says.
The applications go far beyond site visits. Over the next
decade as these sorts of solutions develop more fully – and companies seek ways
to reduce travel for climate issues - Gould says he expects corporate meetings
and events will take place in the metaverse. RendezVerse has also developed a
token, Ngage, for transactions, loyalty and more.
On the leisure side, Gould says using the metaverse for
marketing is the next step in the evolution that has taken us from the early days
of printed brochures to the current use of two-dimensional websites. He expects
to have 1,000 hotels using RendezVerse by the end of 2023.
“Rather than go on to a website and look at a video or a
static picture, what you will eventually do is you'll go ... into the
environment and be immersed. So rather than look at pictures of the hotels, you'll
go into that hotel room ... you’ll go out on the veranda, walk through the bar,”
“And so the ability to gather information about the
destination is going to be greatly enhanced by the introduction of virtual
reality and while it sounds a long way away - all the tools are there now. ... The
idea of anyone having a flat website in five years’ time, who are serious about
marking their hotel property, will be laughed at.”
Ghossein agrees this technology can create the perfect “test
before buying” scenario. And he says once he gets the digital versions of the
hotel’s three main event spaces – auditorium, ballroom and reception – more
refined, he will begin sending Oculus headsets to his biggest buyers so they
can virtually visit, and he will develop virtual replications of the other
parts of the hotel for broader marketing use.
“I want to have a long-term strategy in the metaverse. It’s
not just showing a virtual tour. I want companies, clients connected through
blockchain, having NFTs, trying to get more income from it. ... I would like to
do an event in the metaverse in my hotel,” he says.
“If you want to keep improving, you have to try it. ... For
me, it’s not super risky, so let’s take it and let’s see how clients take it.
"It’s time to do it.”
Madrid Marriott Auditorium Hotel & Conference Center metaverse spaces