Tourism and Metaverse at the BTO in Florence. Are women in tourism looking at the last news from the world of technology? Or do they prefer a turn towards "In Real Life"?
Metaverse: <<three-dimensional space within which natural persons can move, share and interact with each other>> (Treccani).
But can we really talk about metaverse in a pragmatic way today? Going more specifically, in fact, the metaverse could be defined as a kind of ‘work in progress’, of which the characteristics are still being outlined and refined. Especially as far as its application to tourism is concerned, it still seems unclear even for those who work in the sector.
On the occasion of the BTO - Be Travel Onlife - in Florence, held on 29 and 30 November 2022, we wondered if and how women use digital with an original approach. We do not know if they really want to create a digital identity, a future to share in the virtual space, but we can certainly say that they know how to adapt what innovation and technology offers: to do what?
It is not a case that our panel entitled: Open and inclusive, the Metaverse of women in travel has its feet on the ground. THE CONTROVERSE.
In fact, from a series of investigations, we have found that for women, technology is a means to facilitate their very very human and fleshed-out projects.
We do not know how much they want to create a digital identity, a future to share in virtual space,
But they certainly know how to adapt what technology offers to useful ideas.
They seem intent on a very specific use of technology.
Certainly to return to focussing on stories, give them importance and not the way they are narrated.
The most important example is given to us by Tracy Cosgrove, who, with VRHTI (Virtual Reality Hospitaly Training International), as she told us when speaking at Iaia Pedemonte's conference in Florence: << I started out thinking about how to help so many young people in developing countries to learn a job and invented a sophisticated training method for hotel staff, but I am also an example of how women should not stop in front of technologies, because at any age they can learn coding>>.
So, during this conference, we tried to share examples of stories; stories of women engaged in tourism, excellent at realising projects useful to communities that positively engage tourists, local culture and new sustainability challenges. One of these stories is about Phu Style, a great business woman always travelling and around the world: she invented a real metaverse beauty farm inside the airports, offering passengers relaxation and real massages. As Gillian Tans, Chairwoman of the Booking.com Award in 2020 “Today women are still heavily undervalued and numerically underrepresented in technology. But I am pleased to note that gender diversity is becoming increasingly essential in companies and I hope it is an open-minded attitude that can hopefully extend to the entire digital sector.”
Unfortunately, there are only disaggregated and not very precise data on the use of technologies for women, especially in the world of tourism. We have therefore decided to bring with us to Florence examples of young creative women, who have made digital an integral part of their work:
The first was Chiara Lévêque who told us about her Lucus - Miravilius of which she is Marketing Manager; it is a strut-up, with about half female capital, which aims to give a preview and continuity to the travel experience. ‘At the moment we are not looking at Metatourism, we are rather focussed on improving basic elements that can enable us to innovate digitally day after day.’
The second was Silvia Lazzari of the organisational secretariat and communication officer for AITR - Italian Responsible Tourism Association - who told us about one of her latest projects: a podcast review dedicated to the theme of responsible tourism and the objectives of the 2030 Agenda. You have made technology your life now especially in the last three years and, for women who choose to take a road in tourism, advise them to know the technological tools and use them as much as possible.
So, we could say that the metaverse, at least for the time being, is not an innovation taken into account by tourism companies with female capital, but more generally by the whole sector. It is clear that there are initiatives based on technology, or even from a communicative and marketing point of view, all or almost all companies, accommodation facilities, etc. use social networks or platforms for online reservations. There is also a consideration that there are many aspects to be improved of the technologies present, for example, broadband is not throughout the national territory: and you know, without a connection there can be no digital innovation.
We like to think of the Metaverse more as a Controversial: because it is therefore not only entrepreneurs who are not ready to apply the metaverse to tourism, also because despite the slight technological gap with men, they are also ahead; but perhaps it is also tourism itself that is not ready because it is the travellers who are still looking for that link with reality, of which the metaverse would take away from them.
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