Morningstar Balances Business Travel With Metaverse Meetings

Analysts and consultants at The Morning Star may be wearing virtual reality headsets instead of going to future meetings, 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 could not meet in person. He also created a virtual office environment called Nth Floor. Fidelity Investments, for its part, is looking at the effectiveness of virtual reality training, following a pilot program involving 140 employees.

After two years of digital experimentation, a clear pandemic legacy has emerged.

And banking as a whole remains the most cautious sector as offices reopen. American Express Global Business Travel points out that two customers in the sector, without its name, have not yet fully opened their buildings – their trips continue to account for 24% and 33% of the total transaction volume for second quarter, compared to the same period in 2019, he disclosed during his investor day on Tuesday. Another bank customer who reopened their offices cost 66% of travel expenses before the pandemic.

A generation with no need to travel?

Corporate travel agencies, as well as hotels and airlines, should consider the next steps at Morningstar headquarters in Chicago. It encouraged interns themselves to use virtual reality, allowing them to spend on technology when they sign up to try it out and provide feedback, and factor in VIP metaverse experiences at the 2022 investor conference hybrid in the center of McCormick Place convention in Chicago from May 16 to 18.

The acceleration of new technologies will not stop at the end of mask mandates, and Morningstar, with 8,500 employees, is working closely with virtual reality specialist Hypnotize to improve virtual reality experiences and increased its conferences since 2017. The company, founded by veteran journalist Andrew Hawken, also hosts virtual conferences for companies such as Allianz and Wells Fargo.

“We’re kneeling to plan things for 2020, we have a (virtual reality) game called Sustainable City, which is about investing in the environment, social and governance. We also have a fun ‘bee game’ ‘where you have to keep as many bees as possible, which has to do with sustainability,” said experience marketing manager Leslie Marshall. “Then it all stopped and the experience became a completely digital experience. . “

In 2021, Mesmerise asked Morningstar if they would like to hold their investment conference across the metaverse. If Accenture buys 60,000 headsets, it’s not as if the price could be a barrier. The Oculus Quest 2 headset on Meta is now priced at nearly $ 400 and Morningstar has sold 250 investor conference tickets, including one for $ 649. For the desktop-only version of the conference, tickets are $ 399.

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

“We finished this Mesmerise project in six weeks, they’re very fast on this pivot,” added Marshall, who also served as Morningstar’s director of events, magazines 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 tried to show where they would meet, how they would use the meeting place,” he said. While being more focused on the event than already. -focusing on the meeting, Morningstar ran experiments in Australia and Chicago.

Filtering customers

The growing trend is that early adopters of VR seem to be excited to use the method to interact with their own customers.

“By bringing in new technologies and new ways to work, it’s great for us,” Brian Smyth, Accenture’s chief transformation officer for the communications and media industry, told Silicon Republic last month. . “And most of all, how we bring that to our customers in new ways.”

Morningstar is no different, with its Australian team recently hosting an invitation-only event for Virtual Reality Advisor clients that included presentations, product demos and a Q&A. “They love being on top to see and experience it, they haven’t done it before,” Marshall said. “One of my mandates to think about is what we can do for our clients here in Chicago, but also how we can capture the experiences and adapt them to our other offices … everyone on my team has headset, we have virtual reality meetings. ”

This Mesmerise partner also sees a need for executive training, to help sometimes ego-sensitive CEOs feel comfortable wearing a headset.

“They want to know the right way to welcome people in the metaverse, what the manners are. Like everyone else, we’re exploring what this medium means,” Marshall continued. “The thing is. to consider not the current state of the market, but where we are headed and how we can continue to experiment and innovate with this technology. “

With headsets becoming cheaper and Apple expecting to launch its own VR hardware later this year, this is a market that could emerge faster than expected.

Notes

We’ll hear more about Meta, formerly known as Facebook, in the next few months as business travel conferences return. There is a certain irony in face-to-face events that places such weight on virtual reality, but there is much to discuss.

Meta, of course, owns headset maker Oculus, and there are review questions from an industry trying to understand Metaverse. The main question is: is he friend or foe?

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

In France, The Future of Business Travel named 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 the “Metaverse 101: What This New Online Phenomenon Means for Corporate Travel” session. He wants to check if this new online community will replace travel. FCM’s hybrid forum event called Th! Nk is run in partnership with the Global Business Travel Association.

Hosting companies are also facing metaverse head-on. The topic is likely to come up at Skift’s Future of Lodging Forum on May 11-12, with Jennifer Hsieh of Marriott International speaking – Marriott’s loyalty brand Bonvoy is building a metaverse presence. to interact with consumers.

CitizenM is now testing its sales 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. Made with the School of Computing and Computing at Temasek Polytechnic, the lab will finally provide a new way for lyf property visitors to connect to the metaverse.

Other thoughts from Accor, whose co-brand Wojo is exploring the potential for collaboration in the metaverse, while Travelport, as part of the Modern Retail Video Series, explains why now is the time to travel to explore virtual reality opportunities.

Every year has its buzzword, and 2022 is the metaverse. You have been warned.

10 seconds to reach 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.

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